County sells water south

Avoids heavy fees, gains $1.2 million profit

Ordinarily Butte County officials try to avoid sending local water south, but on Tuesday (Jan. 10) the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize county officials to negotiate the lease-sale of 24,000 acre-feet of Lake Oroville water to two San Joaquin Valley water districts.

The water is part of the county’s annual allocation of 27,500 acre-feet of State Water Project water. Local farmers use only 2,776 acre-feet of that water, leaving 24,724 acre-feet unused. The problem is that the county must pay the state for this water anyway—to the tune of $1,367,806 this year.

By leasing the sale of the water to the Palmdale and Westside water districts, the county will not only avoid that cost, but will also earn $1.2 million a year in new revenue.

“It’s not a done deal,” Chief Adminstrative Officer Paul Hahn warned, but he was optimistic that a 10-year lease-sale would be negotiated.