Wednesday May 18 2011
Placer conservation district looking for a few parched cows
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Emergency water for livestock offered in wake of Bear River canal breach
With agricultural water supplies disrupted by the Bear River canal break, the Placer County Resource Conservation District is looking for a few parched cows. The Auburn-based district is working with water providers and Placer County to help reach out to livestock owners and truck in water when cows or other animals are in need. And while recent rainy weather has taken the edge off concerns and bought some time for the canal fix near Colfax, the threat of a dry summer ahead is still on the minds of livestock owners like Robert and Beverly Moss in Loomis. The couple has a herd of eight Black Angus. “Since we’ve had so much rain, there hasn’t been a problem,” Beverly Moss said Wednesday. “It will take awhile for our pond to dry up but we’re hoping the ditch will be fixed. Coming toward July 1, things will be drying out.” The short-term water-delivery plan will deliver emergency raw water by tanker truck to help meet livestock requirements – or about 10 to 15 gallons a day for each cow. It’s not for crop, pasture or garden irrigation. The canal break is projected by Pacific Gas & Electric to be repaired by mid-June. Matt Dunnahoe, conservation district natural resource planner, said the rain has provided relief for pastures, vineyards and orchards. The water relief program for livestock has just started and Dunnahoe said it will likely help owners of small to medium-sized herds. Owners of one or two horses or cows would be able to provide for their water needs from treated water supplies while larger herd owners are temporarily moving them to other areas that have water, he said. “This will help get some to the next ditch-water delivery,” Dunnahoe said. “And the problem may be only for a few weeks.” On Sunday, Placer County Water Agency increased its capability to pump water from the American River into PG&E’s South Canal. While not eliminating the shortage, the agency expects it will boost supplies available to serve irrigation customers west of Newcastle. Landowners in need of livestock water through the free program should contact the conservation district at (530) 885-3048.