A more efficient water system that will improve the city of Wheatland’s drinking water supply is in the works with the help of a grant from Yuba Water Agency.
The $700,000 grant, approved today by the agency board, provides funds for the city to replace its aging water distribution system equipment, including all of the water meters, water meter reading technology and associated software.
The current distribution system includes multiple brands of outdated and inefficient meters, and doesn’t allow the city to identify water losses or alert its customers in a timely manner when their water use is high, which can lead to significant waste and unnecessarily high water bills.
“This funding will directly benefit not just the city of Wheatland, but the approximately 3,700 people who live there, as well,” said Gary Bradford, Yuba Water Agency director and county supervisor for the district that includes Wheatland. “Giving everyone the ability to better monitor their water usage and catch a leak before it’s a crisis will spare many families from the financial burden that comes with a water leak.”
Leveraging potential funding from the state, Yuba Water Agency’s grant will save Wheatland’s customers approximately $1,273 per connection, which would otherwise be absorbed through rate increases.
Additionally, the antiquated equipment requires extra work, reducing efficiency for an already strained workforce. Wheatland staff reports that a recent, routine meter reading required them to open more than 350 of the 1,100 connections to ensure they were accurate and measuring appropriate customer water usage.
The new improvements will include remote-read meters for customers and updated software that will identify leaks automatically, allowing for improved water conservation and efficiency through constant monitoring, while also alleviating the need for employees to check the meters each month, saving staff time.
Yuba Water Agency has worked with Wheatland to develop this project, known as the Wheatland Comprehensive Drinking Water Project. The $700,000 is the local match to leverage state grant funding through the California Department of Water Resources’ Integrated Regional Water Management grant program, which provides funding for multi-benefit regional water projects. To qualify for state funding, the grant application requires a 50 percent local match.
“We’ve been working on this grant for years,” said Wheatland City Manager Jim Goodwin. “This funding from Yuba Water Agency allows us to move forward with the water metering component of the project, which is crucial because we essentially have a failing system and need to make those improvements as quickly as we can for the benefit of our residents.”
Other aspects of the total project, estimated at $1.4 million, include enhancements to the city’s current water storage.
Yuba Water Agency’s grant allows the deficiencies in the water meter reading system to be addressed right away, while strengthening the competitiveness for the remainder of the project to receive further funding from DWR.
Yuba Water is able to grant these funds to Wheatland because this project will help conserve water, and ensuring a sustainable water supply is a primary agency mission.
Grants for first-responders
Two local fire departments will be better equipped to respond to water-related emergencies along the Yuba River with the help of funding from Yuba Water Agency.
Marysville Fire Department - $100,000
This $100,000 grant will provide half of the funding needed to help the department purchase a small, “quick-attack” vehicle that is capable of accessing river bottom off-road terrain and roadways to patrol levees and support water-rescue efforts. Currently, existing vehicles, such as a traditional fire engine, cannot access this area.
“Right now, we don’t have a four-wheel-drive vehicle capable of doing anything near the river-bottom areas, so this vehicle will really provide us the opportunity to do a better, more efficient job,” said Marysville Fire Department Chief Ron Karlen. “We also anticipate staffing this truck 24-7, so it’s not going to be a resource that just sits. It will get a lot of use.”
The department is responsible for responding to emergencies along the waterways bordering Marysville, but oftentimes, has to wait for boat or aircraft assistance when dealing with incidents in certain areas because they are inaccessible to its current vehicles.
The new rig will be a four door, four-wheel-drive truck that can seat four personnel while traveling through rugged terrain, and will be equipped with various response equipment including:
- Tank, pump and hose for fire suppression
- Swift-water rescue equipment
- Light-weight extrication equipment
- High-powered lighting with infrared capability
- Small agriculture pump for evacuating water from flooded areas
- Tools for vegetation management
“This is a great example of Yuba Water helping the local community in a really tangible way, while leveraging other funding to make our dollars go even further,” said Mike Leahy, Yuba Water Agency director and county supervisor for the district that includes the city of Marysville.
Loma Rica/Browns Valley Community Services District - $10,000
This grant will fund swift-water rescue equipment for the Loma Rica/Browns Valley Community Services District as part of Yuba Water Agency’s Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant Program.
The new gear, which includes dry suits and on- and off-shore rescue equipment, will be used by the district’s first-responders when conducting emergency rescues along the Yuba River and at New Bullards Bar Reservoir as part of its mutual aid commitments. The current equipment is outdated and in need of replacement.
The Bill Shaw Rescue Equipment and Training Grant Program, which was created in 2018, is designed for first-responder agencies in Yuba County and will cover the one-time costs of up to $10,000 per applicant annually, associated with the purchase of rescue equipment and specialized personnel training. Since its inception, the program has supported 15 agencies with $188,500 in grants.
Yuba Water Agency is able to help fund these two public safety grants because the funds will be used to provide emergency services for people recreating along the Yuba River and during high-water events.