In a major milestone for the Forbestown Ditch Piping Project, the North Yuba Water District (NYWD) Board of Directors approved the Project plans and scope of work during a special meeting earlier this month.
Approximately two years ago, NYWD received a $500,000 planning grant from the California State Water Resources Control Board “Prop 1 funds” to complete this engineering phase of the Project, including creation of a construction plan and final construction budget, now estimated at $10 Million.
With help from a second grant, awarded Monday from the Yuba Water Agency for $225,000, the Project will continue uninterrupted into permitting and environmental reviews, the final phase before construction.
Originally dug in the 1860’s, the Forbestown Ditch is an unlined, open canal, approximately 10 miles long. The Ditch conveys water to the NYWD Treatment Pond, and is the sole source of drinking water for approximately 3,100 residents of Brownsville, Challenge, Rackerby and Forbestown.
Moving to a piped Ditch will lower the possibility of breaches like the those recently experienced in 2017 and 2018. A piped Ditch will also save a significant amount of water lost from seepage and evaporation, increase the amount of water available for customers and eliminate a vast majority of dirt, trash and contamination from entering the treatment pond.
“Our customers have endured massive blowouts on the Ditch, and periods of uncertainty with their drinking water,” said NYWD General Manager, Jeff Maupin. “Piping the Ditch was literally a ‘pipe dream’ until a few years ago. Now through the actions of our Board of Directors and the availability of Prop 1 funds, piping the Ditch is finally a possibility.”
NYWD was recently designated as a Severely Disadvantaged Community (SDAC) with an annual median household income less than 60 percent of the Statewide annual income. Potential funding sources to complete the construction include an additional Prop 1 grant of up to $5 Million from the State and a matching grant of up to $5 Million from the Yuba Water Agency.
“This is truly an historic project for the North Yuba Water District,” said Randy Fletcher, Yuba County Supervisor and Yuba Water Agency Director. “When you consider the Ditch was constructed when Abraham Lincoln was President, these residents are long overdue for a safe, secure way to receive their water.”
The Forbestown Ditch has quite a storied past. First called the “Miner’s Ditch,” the Ditch and the District have changed ownership and names several times, and weathered numerous epic blowouts over its 150 years. Historical photos of the “Miner’s Ditch” are on the NYWD website, and an actual segment of an old wooden flume, used to repair a breached segment of the Ditch, is on display at the Forbestown Museum.