$30K puts Los Banos water plan in motion

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 5, 2012 

Los Banos waded into a $4.4 million water project, making it the only city among the seven entities.

City Council voted unanimously to commit $30,000 of an eventual $239,000 to store water in the Los Banos Reservoir for future release into the Los Banos Creek. The creek is the source of the city's groundwater. Councilman Scott Silveira was not present.

The city's portion makes up about 5 percent of the total cost, with the largest contributor being the Central California Irrigation District at $1.6 million.

Chris White, the general manager for CCID, said the plan will take water available in the spring and store it in the reservoir to be released in the summer, when it's needed.

"It just puts it to better use," White said.

The city and CCID will team with Columbia Canal Co., Firebaugh Canal Water District, San Luis Canal Co., San Luis Water District and Grassland Water District.

A downpayment

The city's first $30,000 covers its portion of the environmental review, design, bidding and safety studies. The city's funding was budgeted through water enterprise funds, according to city documents.

The plan calls for upgrades -- levee improvements, 3,100 feet of pipe and a diversion structure -- to move water from the Delta Mendota Canal to the Los Banos Reservoir. One of San Luis Water District's pump stations would also be employed.

Engineer Rick Iger of Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group said estimates show the plan will move the amount of water into Los Banos Creek from 2,800 acre-feet per year to 4,100. It reduces what Iger called "non-beneficial spill" down from 8,800 acre-feet per year to 2,100. An acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover one acre, one foot deep.

City Council approved a study on the project in 2010.

As the California Department of Health periodically raises water standards, the city must keep current with regulating minerals like chromium-6.

Good for residents

City Manager Steve Rath said the partnership will benefit the drinking water of Los Banos residents.

"We're talking about quality water," Rath said.

Councilman Tom Faria praised the efforts of the water districts and their consulting firm, because they found a solution beneficial to all parties.

"Sometimes the answer to your questions is basically just staring you right in the face," Faria said.

After the environmental, design, bidding and safety studies, the project will come back before the council for approval of the remaining $209,000. That date has not been determined.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos


Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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