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Why is there an additional fee when paying by credit card?

When paying by credit card, no matter who the merchant, public or private, there is a fee associated with the transaction. Most of the time the customer does not see the fee because it is typically absorbed by the merchant as a convenience for the customer doing business with them. However, a public agency cannot absorb those fees because what is considered a convenience for those who pay by credit card would technically be funded by other rate payers and cannot be absorbed by the District. BVID is considered a “Special District,” which is a public agency and is subject to various laws and regulations that prevent a “gift of public funds.” Nevertheless, BVID gladly offers the service as a flexible payment option so that payments can be made over the phone or via online bill pay if it’s easier for some customers. Like all other government, education and public utility providers, the District uses Municipay as its electronic payment processing solution and the fee is currently 2.65% of each transaction (2022), or a minimum of $3.00 whichever is greater. Unfortunately, that fee goes directly to Municipay and the District receives no portion of it. If we did, we would certainly pass it on to you.

What is a Conserved Water Transfer?

In the late 1980’s, BVID developed what is known as the Upper Main Pipeline and in the process, abandoned the incredibly inefficient Upper Main Ditch that was used to deliver water to much of the District from the Yuba River. At the same time, the District conducted a study to determine how much water was lost from leaks in the Upper Main Ditch by comparing surrounding vegetation before the ditch was abandoned to after. The vegetation die-off resulting from the abandonment translated into about 5,500 acre feet of water per year that was leaking from the ditch! From that 5,500 AF, it was determined that 3,100 AF was transferable and thus, the Conserved Water Transfer was born. With the help of the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA), 3,100 AF is stored in New Bullards Bar every year available for transfer. BVID maintains a long term “first right of refusal” agreement with two large water districts south of the Delta and when a sale occurs, that revenue has historically gone to fund capital improvement projects, equipment purchases as well as to stabilize rates. Unfortunately, the political environment in California is making transfers more difficult and legal battles over the Delta are not helping. While the District does foresee these transfers to continue, we are not certain when nor the price per acre foot. In the past, BVID was not able to transfer water due to too little transfer capacity in the Delta or little demand in wet years. There are several factors that need to align for a transfer to take place. . In addition, BVID’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this transfer expires in 2025 and there is no guarantee of its future beyond that. To make matters worse, EIR’s can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Nevertheless, the District is planning on more transfers before 2025 and will use those funds to help finance projects, equipment as well as provide a buffer to our reserves as the rates catch up to the cost of operations over the next decade.

What is the Power Production Agreement with YCWA?

In 1960, BVID and PG&E developed an agreement to pay BVID $74,000 per year for its water to run through the Colgate and Narrows powerhouses on the Yuba River through 2013. Decades later, in 1990, as BVID abandoned the Upper Main ditch, the 5,500 acre feet that was now being left in the Yuba River would also be made available to produce electricity similar to the 1960 agreement and would supplement the 28,672 acre feet being used under the original agreement. However, in contrast to the fixed amount in the 1960 agreement, BVID and PG&E negotiated what was a best estimate for wholesale power prices for that 5,500 AF through the end of the agreement in 2016. Fortunately for BVID, PG&E was optimistic and over the life of the agreement the District netted nearly 150% of actual wholesale prices which allowed BVID much flexibility in keeping rates low. Also, concurrently, in 2014, once the 1960 agreement expired, an addendum was reestablished for the 28,672 AF to run through the powerhouses until the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) assumed full control of Colgate in 2016. From 2014 to 2016, BVID received revenue based on the actual price of wholesale power opposed to the $74,000. Interestingly enough, PG&E had overestimated on the 1990 agreement so much, the 5,500 AF still generated more revenue than the 27,672 AF at real world pricing at the end of both agreements! In the final year (2015) of the two BVID and PG&E agreements, BVID generated approximately $1.2 million. In 2016, as YCWA took full ownership of the projects at New Bullards Bar and Narrows, BVID and YCWA sat down as partners to negotiate the terms of a new power production agreement. The final agreement was similar to the original agreements and they are largely based on the wholesale price of power and the amount generated through both powerhouses using BVID’s 47.2 CFS water right on the Yuba River. Unfortunately, however, because YCWA is much smaller than PG&E and does not have the same capability to spread its losses, the cost of power production will likely be much higher. As a result, it is estimated that under the new agreement with YCWA, the District will generate anywhere between $250,000 and $750,000 per year. Of course, the final amount depends on O&M costs to both the Colgate and Narrows powerhouses, as well as hydrology and the wholesale price pf power. It is clear, however, that the new agreement will yield much less than the $1 million plus the District had come to rely on in the final several years of the previous two agreements.

What is BVID’s Reserve Policy?

BVID has a conservative reserve policy in place to backstop any unforeseen expenses. However, until the rates neutralize the deficit between operating revenue and expenses, the District will be relying on reserves more now than ever. The District Reserve Policy (subject to Board action) will invoke another Proposition 218 study and process if the District’s total reserves drop below one (1) year of total operating expenses or if the District’s O&M reserves drop below six (6) months of that year’s core O&M expenses, whichever comes first.

What is the Annual Charge?

It is the annual fee that each parcel pays per year. It covers many of the operational expenses associated with managing the District, including the extensive work to maintain our water rights. If you receive water for more than one adjacent parcel with common ownership, occupation and use, you are only required to pay one service charge per year. The waiver for adjoining parcels is not intended to benefit parcels if each parcel has a different use or is rented or leased to another person.

What is a “Unit”?

It is a rate of flow determined by an orifice plate inside your service box. A one-unit plate will allow 10 gallons per minute through your service box. Two units equals 20 gallons per minute and so on. Because a “Miner’s Inch” can be a confusing method of measurement, and even differs in volume regionally, the Unit replaced the Miner’s Inch in 2012.

What are projects completed by BVID to help save Collins Lake water during drought conditions?

The O’Brien Pipeline was a drought project constructed in 2014 using revenues from a conserved water transfer. Generally, several large agricultural customers in Loma Rica purchase water from Collins Lake to irrigate their crops. In normal years, this is well tolerated by the capacity in Collins Lake. However, in dry years, the nearly 2,000 AF they purchase can really put a strain on supplies (about 2 feet of lake elevation). The O’Brien Pipeline, when activated, takes that water from the Yuba River via the Pumpline Canal and pumps it north to those fields, thereby saving the water in Collins Lake for use in the upper District. Similar to the O’Brien Pipeline, this is another drought project constructed in 2016 using revenues from a conserved water transfer. The Saddleback Ranch has partially received water from the Yuba River for several years to conserve water in Collins Lake. Until 2016 however, it was pumped from the Pumpline Canal with a diesel powered pump, which was noisy and inefficient. That motor was replaced with a much quieter electric variable frequency drive to reduce noise and air pollution, as well as to reduce the need to have fuel delivered to the site.

What is the BVID/YCWA Water Supply Agreement and how is “project” water different from “water rights” water?

BVID’s water right on the Yuba River was established on March 21, 1890 and was 47.2 CFS, measured at Goodyear’s Bar in Sierra County. However, in the early 2000’s, the State Water Resources Control Board ruled in Decision RWD-1644 (Fisheries Resources and Water Right Issues of the Lower Yuba River) that the 47.2 CFS water right was in excess of BVID’s actual agricultural use year round and subsequently assigned the following constraints to the diversions per month:

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In addition to BVID’s water right, the District also entered into an agreement to purchase 9,500 acre feet annually from the Yuba County Water Agency in the 1980’s. This became known as “project water.” This block of water served as a buffer to ensure the District would not exceed its diversion amounts as set by RWD-1644, and in the world of water, more is always better. As that agreement, and its subsequent amendments in 1986 and 1992 came to a close in 2016, BVID again sat down as a partner with the Yuba County Water Agency to negotiate the terms of a new thirty (30) year agreement. In many respects, the agreement remains the same in that the District will continue to purchase 9,500 acre feet annually to protect its interests over future growth. However, there are several protections built in that weren’t in the previous agreement. Most notably, the previous agreement had no provision to protect the District in the event our pre-1914 water right was curtailed (as nearly occurred in 2015), and under the new agreement, any curtailments will be supplied by YCWA from storage at New Bullards Bar.

What date does the water season start/stop?

There are no specific start/stop dates for the yearly irrigation season but rather, it is determined by the weather. In years with normal rainfall, the season begins when the spring rains have ended and the majority of our customers will benefit from irrigation water. The season continues until sometime in the fall when the fall rains begin or temperatures drop enough for plants to go dormant. Generally speaking, these dates occur in late April and October, but can vary greatly due to the weather. Because these start/stop dates are so arbitrary, we are unable to prorate irrigation bills.

What does BVID staff do during the wintertime?

Believe it or not, the wintertime can be as busy as the summertime for everyone at BVID. The office staff remains very engaged in managing projects, working with legal and consultant staff, working through very complex permitting processes as well as the daily cycle of budgeting and administration. The field crew is equally hard at work doing a number of things that cannot be completed during the summer months while they are otherwise chasing leaks, breakages and installing pipelines: Dam and powerhouse maintenance Pump maintenance Service installations, repairs and valve replacements Clearing of brush and downed trees Equipment repairs and maintenance Pipeline projects (weather permitting) Hardware fabrication (Our services, lock mechanisms and paddlewheels are constructed in house) Ditch and spill board maintenance Pesticide spraying on ditches and around infrastructure Additionally, our crewmembers use most of their vacation time during the winter months, especially during inclement weather, due to the summer months having an exceptionally high workload.

Why is the ditch overflowing during heavy rains?

BVID’s ditches were designed to accommodate irrigation supplies and often heavy rains can be overwhelmed, acting as rain gutters for the hillside. There are many spill boards throughout the District to relieve this overflow, but sometimes rain can be heavy enough to outpace the rate of spill and overflow the ditch banks. Because that water is from rainfall and not from releases, BVID is not responsible for water overflowing as a result of weather.

What part of the irrigation system maintenance belongs to BVID and what part belongs to the property owner?

The property owner is responsible for any issue after the service box on the property owner’s side. BVID only maintains the infrastructure to get water to your service box including the service box itself.

Does BVID work on weekends?

Yes, BVID has somebody available 7 days per week during the irrigation season (excluding holidays) at the Operations Office at (530) 742-6044. If you encounter a problem, please call that number and if there is no answer, please leave a message because it is checked several times throughout the day on Saturdays and Sundays. It is fairly normal that the phone is not answered as there are only one or two crewmembers on shift during the weekends (to save on overtime costs) and they are in and out of the shop in between work orders to check the voicemail regularly.

What if there is a major break or problem after hours?

If the BVID Operations Office is closed, please call the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department at (530) 749-7777 and they have a contact procedure for afterhours operations. Please only call afterhours if there is an issue that threatens damage to property, is a safety issue or is otherwise resulting in a significant loss of water. Otherwise, if it can wait until the following morning please consider that.

My water was off due to a break or repair. Do I get a refund for the day (s) I did not receive water?

No. As explained above, because of the arbitrary start/stop days of the irrigation season we are unable to prorate and therefore, cannot give refunds. Additionally, you are paying for water at a unit rate, which is a rate of flow not a total volume of water.

Can BVID water be used for household purposes such as drinking, bathing or cooking?

No. The Browns Valley Irrigation District only provides raw, untreated agricultural water for irrigation use only. While BVID tries to keep the ditches as clean as possible, they are open and subject to any natural contamination that occurs along the way. Many miles of BVID’s ditches are located in pasture land and whatever is on the ground easily runs off into the waterways, including animals that are frequently encountered by our crews as they inspect the ditches.

Can BVID water leave my property under any circumstance?

No. The customer must take all reasonable measures to ensure that water does not leave their property through runoff, pond releases or otherwise. Runoff is actually a violation of several State and local laws and with the drought still fresh in our minds, BVID strictly enforces prudent use. In addition, all surface water in the District belongs to and is salable as tailwater by BVID so for a property owner to deliver and/or resell the water to another user is strictly prohibited.

How do I get a BVID pipeline in my area?

Under the Customer Center tab on the website, select Forms; or contact the District office for more information.

How many miles of ditches and pipelines does BVID maintain?

BVID maintains 80 miles of open ditches and 124 miles of pipelines extending from those ditches. In the upper district, or areas generally served by Collins Lake, there are 60.5 miles of open ditches and 120.5 miles of sealed pipelines (not including individual services). In the lower District, or the area generally served by the Yuba River, there are 18.7 miles of open ditches and 3.5 miles of sealed pipelines.

How does BVID pressurize its water?

The vast majority of the District’s pressurized services are maintained by gravity from Collins Lake and more specifically, where the ditches transition into sealed pipelines at a higher elevation than the property it is delivered. Several small areas of the District do receive help from booster pumps, and those customers are responsible for the pumping costs associated delivering to those specific areas. To keep costs down, service to those areas is typically only available during what are considered “non-peak” hours through PG&E. The one exception to those services is on and near Redhill Way (also White Oak and Mourning Dove), where additional pumping is required throughout the season. Unfortunately, those customers are also charged what is called the “Redhill East Infrastructure Charge” which funds the additional infrastructure to get water to those customers. To save utility charges for those customers as much as the District can, BVID employs a gravity type pump that uses the energy of the water coming down the pipeline to push it up into the Redhill subdivision.

I think my neighbor is stealing (or misusing) water, what should I do?

Call the Operations Office (530-742-6044) and give us the address where you believe the offense is taking place. We will research the matter and take action to correct misuse, if any.

I need to do some digging around my property. How can I be sure not to hit a BVID line?

Call USA North at 1-800-227-2600 at no cost to you and at least 48 hours prior to digging. They will take your information and notify not only BVID but other possible utilities (PG&E, telephone co., etc.). If there is a BVID structure in the area that you specify, we will come to your property and mark our structure in blue paint. PLEASE NOTE: If you DO NOT call USA North and you damage a BVID structure while digging, you will be held financially responsible for the repair of the structure.

I just had a service box installed. What size connection is it?

Our outlets are 1 1/4” female pvc. 

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