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By Andrew Creasey
“A Sutter County water district has agreed to transfer 6,000 acre-feet of water in a $4.2 million deal.
The South Sutter Water District will use the funds to widen the spillway on the dam at Camp Far West, a project that is being required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The transfer amounts to about 10 percent of the district’s water supply, and farmers will either cut back on planting or rely more on groundwater as a result, said Mat Conant, a board member for the district and a walnut farmer in Sutter County. “Some growers are concerned,” Conant said. “Our water table is down slightly from where it was last year, but it’s not terrible. I think we can pump almost as much as last year without affecting it.”
Conant said some growers will cut back between 5 and 10 percent of their crop.
The board decided to make the sale in light of the market for water. The other option to pay for the work was to issue bonds.
“It doesn’t make sense to sell a bond and put the district in debt when you can raise the funds in one year by selling water,” Conant said.
The water was sold to the State Water Project, which will make it available to buyers throughout the state, Conant said.
The district will allocate one acre-foot of water to its growers this year, which is about the same as last year, Conant said. In wet years, the district has allocated up to three acre-feet of water.
The spillway project is a required flood protection measure on which the district has been working for five years. There have been proposed two project plans rejected. The district is on its third, and most expensive, version of the plan.
The project started at a cost of $2.5 million. The next plan came at a cost of $4.6 million. The current version of the project is $10.4 million.
The project will widen the spillway so it can handle 132,000 cubic feet per second of outflow. Currently, the spillway is designed to handle 103,000 cfs.
The highest flow the spillway has seen is 43,000 cfs.
Conant said the district will likely be one of only a few to transfer water this year.
“A lot of them can’t because they don’t have enough to transfer,” Conant said. “The reservoir is full, but we know it will be empty by the end of summer.”