EID preserves small water right

By Michael Raffety

Mountain Democrat, 9/20/14

The 152-acre-foot Blakeley Reservoir in Camino will no longer supply Apple Mountain Golf Course, but the El Dorado Irrigation District is going to add it to its sure supply that it can retrieve from Folsom Lake.

When the reservoir was fed by the Main Ditch, a Camino golf course and EID reached a deal in 1996 to provide the golf course 270 acre-feet of water a year from Blakeley Reservoir via the Main Ditch that had previously served farmers in the area.

The reservoir was built in the 1870s by the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Co. That outfit also built the El Dorado Canal and its two alpine lakes, completing the project in 1876 after posting the water rights in 1856.

When Western States Power Co. bought the canal in 1916 the state Railroad Commission required it to set aside 15,080 acre-feet of water for the El Dorado Water Users Association. When farmers and Placerville residents formed EID in 1925 the district took over those rights. In 1999, PG&E for $1 sold EID Project 184, which includes four alpine reservoirs, a diversion dam on the South Fork of the American River at Kyburz, 22 miles of canals, flumes and tunnels, Forebay Reservoir, a penstock and a 21-megawatt powerhouse. PG&E also gave EID $15 million for repairs.

Acquiring Project 184 enabled the district to double its water rights.

Now it is adding 95 acre-feet of pre-1914 water rights by letting Apple Mountain out of its Blakeley Reservoir contract that was originally dated to Oct. 21, 1996, and was an agreement with James and Juanita Ward.

“The Ward agreement was intended to settle an outstanding dispute regarding historic water rights claimed by the Wards,” the staff report deputy general counsel Brian Poulsen stated.

After the Wards went bankrupt, EID approved an agreement with their successor, Apple Mountain in 2001. The agreement called for EID providing the limited partnership 270 acre-feet of water at ditch water rates through a regular water connection but pump to water from Blakeley Reservoir to water the golf course.

Apple Mountain installed a pump at the reservoir but never used it, according to Poulsen. And EID never enforced this part of the agreement. So EID declared King’s X and kept the reservoir water for itself. With no more ditch water, EID staff determined that springs at the head of the reservoir provide 95 acre-feet of water annually.

The district will release the reservoir water into North Canyon Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the American River. It will enhance its dry year supply of water available from Folsom Lake. The district has a maximum contract amount of 4,560 acre-feet in Folsom Lake that comes from upstream sources such as Weber Reservoir, various ditch water rights and now 95-acre-feet from Blakeley Reservoir.

Apple Mountain Golf Course gets ditch water rates out of the tap until 2021.

The action proposed by Poulsen was approved 5-0 by the EID board Sept. 9.


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