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Foothill Conservancy board discusses small-diameter pipeline project
7/8/16
At its quarterly board meeting July 5, the Foothill Conservancy board of directors discussed the current controversy over the Amador Water Agency proposal to place a small-diameter pipeline in the Amador Canal.

The pipeline is Phase II of a two-part AWA project intended to conserve water and improve water quality. It would place water that currently flows in the open Amador Canal into a closed pipe that would serve adjacent landowners. While Amador and Calaveras counties were once home to many open canal systems, the Amador Canal is one of two remaining in operation in Amador today. The water that supplies the Amador Canal is diverted from the Mokelumne River.

To inform the public of Foothill Conservancy’s decision on the small-diameter pipeline, the organization released the following statement:

Foothill Conservancy supports and advocates for local agriculture, wildlife and habitat, scenic beauty, historic resources, watershed management, Mokelumne River protection, smart land use, and water use efficiency. There are compelling arguments to be made about all of these issues relative to the small-diameter pipeline project.

Pipeline advocates point to water conservation, energy conservation, maintenance costs savings, water quality improvement, and threats to water rights as reasons to complete the pipeline project. Pipeline opponents believe that dewatering the canal will harm wildlife and local farmers and landowners who rely on canal water, reduce stream flows and springs currently fed by seepage from the canal, and send more water down the Mokelumne for others to use.

The Conservancy believes in developing broad-based solutions to local community issues and encourages and actively participates in collaborative problem solving. We believe that collaborative processes in which everyone gets what they need (if not what they want) create lasting solutions with positive results.

With all this in mind, the Conservancy board reviewed a great deal of material related to the project, including written and oral communications sent by landowners who live adjacent to the canal and other members of the public, past reports, legal settlement agreements, studies and plans; discussed the project’s history and available watershed fund (which was established as a part of the legal settlement); and considered this complex issue from every perspective. The directors also considered pipeline opponents’ and contractors’ recent public statements expressing a desire to continue discussions to work out all of the issues related to the project.

After a civil, respectful discussion airing all views, the Conservancy board passed a motion on a 5-0-2 vote to:

  • Encourage the Amador Water Agency to request an extension of its state grant for the small-diameter pipeline project, secured from a special “drought round” of Integrated Regional Water Management Program grants.

  • Encourage the AWA to seek a grant or loan from the Amador County Water Resources Development Fund to hire a neutral mediator who can bring the parties together to find a positive resolution to this conflict.
  • Request that the Amador Community Foundation develop granting criteria for its $100,000+ Upper Jackson Creek Watershed Fund that will disburse monies consistent with the legal settlement that established the fund and the priorities and goals in the watershed plan developed with AWA and state grant funds.

We encourage the parties to come together to seek a lasting, positive solutions to this community conflict.

For more information, contact Conservancy Executive Director Cecily Smith at 209-223-3508

THE FOOTHILL CONSERVANCY  |  PO Box 1255, Pine Grove CA 95665 | 209.295.4900

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