Possible solution for Miocene Canal

A new proposal is on the table to make repairs to the Miocene Canal in Butte County.

Posted: Nov 17, 2020 8:01 AM
Updated: Nov 17, 2020 10:47 AM

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. -- Large portions of the Upper Miocene Canal burned in the Camp Fire.

In the two years since, many people who rely on water from that canal have been dry. The more than 7-mile canal has for years transported water to home and landowners as the primary source of H20.

One of those is homeowner Ed Cox. He and others impacted formed the Miocene Canal Coalition to advocate for repairs.
Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough spoke with Cox about the latest proposal on the table.

“For the foreseeable future there will be water in the canal and we are very hopeful that it will be something that is sustainable over many years as opposed to a short-term fix,” explains Cox.

As part of PG&E’s wildfire settlement with Butte County, the utility has set aside 15-million dollars to come up with a fix for the Miocene. The company has five years to do so.

Yarbough spoke with Paul Gosselin, the Director of the Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation.
He outlined what a fix would look like under the new proposal.

“The current plan is that PG&E is going to repair the Upper Miocene with pipes; it won't be the same system of wood and corrugated steel,” explains Gosselin. “It will be much more resilient. Solid steel pipe will go through the ravines. We always wanted something when it was put back in place that would be resilient for the long term."

Yarbough reached out to PG&E to ask about this proposed vision. A representative would not confirm specific details of a plan, saying only, “We are working with engineering and construction firms to determine the feasibility and cost of making repairs to the Miocene canal. It’s too soon to detail what the repair plan may look like before the engineering is complete.”

Gosselin says homeowners, land, farm, and orchard owners impacted by the lack of water flowing in the Miocene, are optimistic, but admits, they have had their hopes dashed in the past. Cox says this most recent plan appears to be the most viable proposal put forth, to date.

Earlier this year, Action News Now explained details of a proposal that would have worked to pump water out of Lake Oroville to be delivered into the canal. That plan proved to be too costly, had too many regulatory hurdles, and was not sustainable for the long term, explained Gosselin.

The PG&E representative tells Yarbough, plans are still preliminary and may change as the engineering process moves forward.
Both Gosselin and Cox say the hope is to see this proposed plan move forward by next year.

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