Skip to main content

NORTH YUBA WATER DISTRICT FACT CHECKER

The North Yuba Water District’s current staff, management and board are working hard to provide clear and transparent communications to our customers and to earn our customers’ trust and goodwill. This page provides a place where customers can come to fact-check information that is circulating throughout the community and to get accurate, complete and up-to-date information on water supply, quality and deliveries now and for the future.

The safety and security of our water supply and integrity of District Operations are of critical importance to District leadership. We appreciate the strong community support we have received as we have improved water deliveries and water quality over the last year.

FACT CHECK

 

TOPIC: Other government agencies are discussing dissolving North Yuba Water District

MISINFORMATION: The State Water Resource Control Board is going to put North Yuba into a “receivership” and give all North Yuba’s water, income, and customers to South Feather.

FACT: No. The State board has no plan or interest in doing that. Even if the State board wanted to do that, it doesn’t have the authority to do so.

Although it is true that the District once had a troubled relationship with the State board, that has changed. The new District board and administration worked hard and have successfully built a strong relationship with a growing mutually beneficial partnership. Both the State board and North Yuba have the same goal to protect and improve water deliveries to Yuba County water customers.

 

MISINFORMATION:  The California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCO) is going to dissolve North Yuba and give all North Yuba’s water, income, and customers to the South Feather Water and Power Agency in Butte County.

FACT: This Association has no plans or intention of doing anything to North Yuba. The Association is not a government agency, it is a private organization, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation founded in 1971. It does not have any power or authority to make decisions about any California water district.

 

MISINFORMATION: The Butte County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) is going to dissolve North Yuba and give all North Yuba’s water, income, and customers to the South Feather Water and Power Agency in Butte County.

 FACT: The Butte County LAFCO has jurisdiction, under certain conditions, to form and dissolve water districts that are in Butte County. North Yuba is in Yuba County. That means that the Butte County LAFCO does not have the power or authority to do anything related to North Yuba including dissolving North Yuba and giving any of North Yuba’s water, income or customers to South Feather.

 

TOPIC: Recent Misinformation about the District Water Supply

MISINFORMATION: The District does not have enough water to serve existing demand or to expand service to new customers.

FACT:  The source of this MISINFORMATION might be statements made by the prior District board and administration. They made this same argument about not having enough water to justify cutting back irrigation water service to zero.

The problem was not a water shortage; we have plenty of water. The District receives 23,700-acre feet of water every year. Only 3,700-acre feet (give or take) is used to serve all North Yuba’s current customers – with enough water to expand services to new customers.

The problem was that the District’s water transport infrastructure was so severely damaged from neglect that it could not move the water to where it needed to be. The new board hit the ground running and made emergency repairs. Ongoing and future repairs are expected to save a significant amount of water.

 

MISINFORMTION: North Yuba is not capable of repairing the District’s infrastructure without help from the South Feather Water and Power Agency in Butte County.

FACT: The District staff is more than capable of making repairs without help from South Feather. We have a mutual aid agreement with South Feather which allows some South Feather employees to work, for pay, temporarily for North Yuba. We appreciate the help some of these workers provided. However, District employees made all the following repairs without using any South Feather temporary workers, and we expect to be able to continue to repair and improve our water transport infrastructure without any further assistance. However, it is nice to know they are available if we need them.

 

MISINFORMATION: The State of California is going to reduce the District’s water supply.

FACT: The District receives 23,700-acre feet of water every year. The State Water Board is not going to take any action that will reduce that total.

 

MISINFORMATION: The State board will reduce North Yuba’s water so much that not only will there be no water to serve new customers, but the current customers will also not be able to receive their full allotments.

 

FACT: This rumor is saying the same thing as the misinformation. Like the previous rumor, none of it is true.

No matter what the State board does, it is not expected that the District’s water supply will change. When we can solve the problems of getting water to homes and farms at higher elevations, we will be able to do so because we have excess capacity.

 

MISINFORMATION: Any significant customer expansion would need to use un-permitted water.

FACT: No. All the 23,700-acre feet of water we receive each year is “permitted” water. All the District’s water customers - irrigation and drinking water – use approximately 3,700-acre feet (approximately) out of 23,700-acre feet the District receives every year. This means a potentially large surplus the District can devote to potential new customers.

The only challenge to expansion is the continued repair, improvement, upgrade, and expansion of the District’s water transportation infrastructure to get our water where it is needed. This is work that the new administration is actively taking on.

 

MISINFORMATION:  The criteria that will be used to choose new water customers will be corrupt, favoring personal friends and supporters.

FACT:  Over the years, there has been persistent misinformation that prior board members engaged in this kind of corrupt behavior, favoring friends and supporters. The current board and administration are committed to choosing new water customers fairly and objectively without any favor shown to friends, neighbors, or political supporters.

 

MISINFORMATION: Out of the total 23,700-acre feet of water the District receives, 15,500-acre feet must be used only for power generation, and that water cannot be used for irrigation or drinking water.

FACT:  Yes, 15,500-acre feet of District water is currently used to generate electricity. But it is not true that this water can only be used to generate electricity. Those 15,500-acre feet can be devoted to any beneficial use, including irrigation and drinking water.

 

MISINFORMATION: The money the District earns from using 15,500-acre feet to generate electricity is the District’s only income.

FACT:  This statement is false. The District has many sources of income, including our irrigation and domestic water customers and the water we sell to Yuba City. We partner with South Feather to sell stored water and to generate power – which uses between 200,000- and 600,000-acre feet of water per year. Our infrastructure repairs and improvements are paid for with grants from state and local agencies. In addition, new customers will be the source of additional income.

 

MISINFORMATION: It makes no sense to approach the Yuba Water Agency for money for repairs and improvements if North Yuba no longer has enough water to expand.

FACT: None of this information is true. We have enough water to expand and are improving the infrastructure to make that happen. We have a partnership with the Yuba Water Agency that provides us with grants. The grant funds are used to repair, improve, and expand our water transport infrastructure to serve Yuba County residents – which is YWA’s mission. The grants are funds dedicated to making necessary repairs and improvements and are not required to be paid back by the District or our customers.

 

MISINFORMATION: The pending State Water Board decision will make North Yuba lose its income.

FACT:  No, it won’t. The State Board isn’t going to reduce the 23,700-acre feet of water the District receives every year, and the District will continue earning income from the beneficial use of that water.

 

MISINFORMATION: When the State Board reduces or curtails North Yuba’s water rights, it will reduce North Yuba’s income from hydro-electricity generation.

FACT:  This is the same misinformation as the item explained above. The answer is the same. No state action will affect electricity generation, or the District’s income. What matters is how much water the District will receive each year, and the State board is not going to reduce the total amount of water the District receives. The District earns its income from this water. Also, the District and South Feather have shared water rights that are licensed for the sole purpose of power generation. This income will always be there.

 

MISINFORMATION: To be able to continue to operate, North Yuba will have to raise water rates “25 times.”

FACT:   No, it won’t. We have no idea what kind of math this statement relies on, but that math is wrong, and the information isn’t accurate.

 

MISINFORMATION: North Yuba is using 88 percent of its water to pay its bills, and this is out of balance.

FACT: This statement says that North Yuba is being mismanaged because the District isn’t making a profit.

North Yuba isn’t a business. There is nothing “out of balance” if we don’t make a profit. The only meaningful question is whether we are reliably providing quality water to our customers at a price they can afford.

 

MISINFORMATION: North Yuba is using 88 percent of its water to pay its bills, leaving only 12 percent for beneficial use.

FACT:  Irrigation is a beneficial use. Domestic water delivery is a beneficial use. Selling water to Yuba City is a beneficial use. All these beneficial uses generate income, most of which is used to pay our expenses so that we can continue to operate and provide water for our customers.

 

MISINFORMATION: The water the District receives cannot be used on the ground.

FACT:   This statement is confusing. The water we receive can and will be used as irrigation and drinking water for all North Yuba’s customers, with water to spare. This water is transported through canals, culvers, pipelines, flumes – all of which are “on the ground.” In the case of drinking water, it  is delivered through pressurized pipes that are under the ground.

The 23,700-acre feet of water the District receives every year can and will be used for many beneficial uses, including irrigation, drinking water and fire protection.

 

MISINFORMATION: North Yuba no longer has enough water to serve all the unserved, taxed properties in its service area.

FACT: This misinformation is being spread to upset people who reside in North Yuba, pay property taxes, but don’t receive water.

Everybody who lives in North Yuba pays 1% in property taxes to Yuba County. The County shares a small part of this with North Yuba. If that small share stops coming to the District, it will stay with the County. It won’t lower any tax payments.

There are several reasons why a parcel of land doesn’t receive irrigation or drinking water from North Yuba. Many of them can’t receive it. The North Yuba water delivery system is powered by gravity. Water comes into the District at high elevations, and then flows downhill to deliver water. Many parcels are located at elevations too high to be part of this system. Many parcels are not located near existing canals or pipelines.

Many don’t want any of the water District’s water. Many landowners chose to avoid government regulation and the cost for water deliveries by relying on well water for irrigation and drinking water.

Even if a parcel is not receiving water from the District, the mere possibility of receiving water from a municipal source, even if it not practical today, makes a parcel of land more valuable. A parcel of land is more valuable if there is an opportunity for it to receive irrigation and/or treated drinking water.

We are exploring ways to make conditions change and are working on a plan to expand water services to North Yuba residents who pay taxes but are not receiving water. It will take a lot of work to make this happen, and the work can’t be done overnight. But the District is committed to providing water for as many District residents as possible who want to contract with the District to receive it.

 

TOPIC: Merging with the South Feather Water and Power Agency

MISINFORMATION: If South Feather takes over North Yuba, South Feather will give North Yuba’s former customers pressurized fire hydrants every 500 feet, green belts, and more agricultural water for free.

FACT: This isn’t true. South Feather doesn’t have this capability, and they have their own customers in Butte County who want and need water. All the things this statement says South Feather would give us “for free” are expensive – especially agricultural water. And South Feather is legally prohibited from giving any of that water to Yuba County residents. That water is permitted for use only in Butte County.

 

MISINFORMATION: South Feather has 1-million-acre feet of water available for North Yuba to tap into.

FACT: This is another version of the same misinformation. The truth is we don’t need South Feather’s water to meet North Yuba’s current and future water demands. We have more than we can use right now and are working hard to use this water to expand service to new customers here within our own water district.

 

MISINFORMATION:  With North Yuba’s income, South Feather can build all the canals, pipelines, and water pumps needed to supply water to all South Feather and North Yuba’s combined current and potential customers.

FACT:  This is untrue. In fiscal year 2021/2022 (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022), North Yuba earned $1,884,708 in total revenue. Expenses (operating expenses, treatment, water supply, distribution, administration, employee pay and benefits, expenses, depreciation) totaled $3,028,435. This means that, in 2021/2022, the District suffered a $1,143,727 net loss.

The November 2022 general election replaced the old District board with the current District board. In fiscal year 2022/2023 (July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023), North Yuba earned $5,209,263. Expenses (including paying off the prior year’s net loss, operating expenses, treatment, water supply, distribution, administration, employee pay and benefits, expenses, depreciation) totaled $4,044,872. This means that, in 2021/2022, the District earned a $1,164,391 surplus that can be used to address pressing operational, repair, and water delivery needs.

So, in a good year, with the benefit of better management, North Yuba earns $1,164,391. If South Feather obtained that income through an involuntary merger with North Yuba, it wouldn’t be nearly enough to build the water delivery infrastructure the statement promises. South Feather would have to pay between 10 and 20 million dollars to build just one pipeline to the town of Bangor in Butte County.

 

MISINFORMATION: To have a “water-rich future” means replacing North Yuba with some other water delivery administration.

FACT:  There is now a new board and a new administration dedicated and working hard to repair what is broken to improve and expand water services.

 

MISINFORMATION: The District’s treatment plant operates at only one-third of its total capacity.

FACT:   This is sometimes true. But the statement is deceptive: it implies there is something wrong with operating a water plant at less than its full capacity, and that is never true.

All water plants operate at the level needed to satisfy current demand. If a water plant has a total capacity of 10 million gallons, but only two million gallons is needed to satisfy demand, then running at full capacity would waste eight million gallons of water.

It is good to have extra capacity in case you need it. When fires break out in our community, it is our drinking water, running through fire hydrants, that is used to fight those fires. Extra capacity means a higher supply of drinking water to fight fires if and when we need it.

 

MISINFORMATION: When the State board reduces the District’s water, irrigation water will be diverted to generate power because the District can make more money from power generation than by selling irrigation water.

FACT: This misinformation is the worst kind of fear mongering. The goal is to convince irrigation water customers that the only way they will be able to continue receiving water for fruit trees, vegetables, vineyards, and livestock is to dissolve North Yuba and merge with South Feather.

There is no reason for anyone to be afraid. The State Water Board is not going to reduce the 23,700-acre feet of water North Yuba receives every year, and this is more than enough water to meet the needs of our current irrigation and domestic water customers, with water left over to expand services to new customers.

If you are a District irrigation water customer, you know how hard the current board, new administration, and district staff worked to make the repairs necessary to deliver a full irrigation season for the first time in years. You know we are continuing to make repairs.

We made a promise, and we delivered. We’re going to do it again this year, and we are making long term strategic plans to make sure irrigation and quality drinking water are provided for as long as the North Yuba Water District exists.

 

MISINFORMATION: South Feather hasn’t said they want to merge with North Yuba. But they haven’t said anything against merging, and that’s because they must want to merge.

 

FACT: The most difficult kind of misinformation to disprove is misinformation that whispers about what someone is thinking or secretly wants.

We can’t tell you what the people at South Feather are secretly thinking or wanting, but we can tell you that they’ve told us they aren’t interested in dissolving North Yuba and absorbing our water, money and customers. South Feather and North Yuba are independent business partners who are financially stronger because of that partnership.

 

TOPIC the 2005 Agreement Between South Feather and North Yuba

North Yuba and the South Feather Water and Power Agency are equal partners in a hydro-power project that used North Yuba and South Feather water to generate and sell electricity, sharing in the profits.

There are several misconceptions circulating about the power generation partnership agreement between North Yuba and South Feather. We aren’t sure why this is happening, but the facts are worth knowing.

 

MISINFORMATION: The Agreement requires North Yuba to sell a minimum of 4,500-acre feet to Yuba City.

FACT: The Agreement doesn’t set a minimum. It sets a maximum of 10,000-acre feet. And no water sale is required. North Yuba can sell water to Yuba City – or not.

 

MISINFORMATION: The Agreement leaves only 1,900-acre feet for irrigation.

FACT: The Agreement provides North Yuba with 23,700-acre feet of water every year. The District is confident that it will continue to deliver irrigation water to its customers.

 

MISINFORMATION: North Yuba will not have a “water rich” future without merging with South Feather.

FACT:  This statement defines “water rich” as having more than 10,000-acre feet per year. As explained previously, the District will have a secure 23,700-acre feet of water each year to provide for present and future water needs, with enough left over for possible expansion. 23,700 is more than twice as much as 10,000.

Join our mailing list