Letter to the Editor: Well water use by proposed Portola Aggregate Mine

On March 10, during the Plumas County League of Women Voters’ forum debating the proposed Portola Aggregates mine, Perry Thompson of Hat Creek Construction used some bizarre water use comparisons about garden hoses and alfalfa pivots all to minimize the proposed 50,000 gallons the Portola Aggregate mine may use daily. These meaningless comparisons are a callous distraction to the legitimate concerns by area residents for our well water supply to our homes.

Roughly, the range of water use per person is 50 – 100 gal/day. I suspect our northern Portola water use is in the lower range since most of us are older folks. But just for argument, let’s say it’s 75 gal/day/person. So, the common 2- person household would use about 54,700 gal per year (75gal/day/person X 2 people X 365 days/yr)

Hat Creek proposes to use up to 50,000 gallons per day from the aquifer. So basically, they will use almost the same amount of water a household uses in a whole year in one day!!!

Plus, they may use even more water. There will be no day-to-day regulation by officials that controls the mine’s water extraction.

Plumas County should require a full environmental assessment that includes an independent hydrological study of the mining area to determine the effect on the adjacent 22 residential wells immediately south of the mine property, and the 35 residential wells within a mile west of the proposed mine. We are approaching another dry year with 52 percent of normal precipitation as of this date. The threats to our wells from this mine are real.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in the letter dated January 26, 2021 sent to Plumas County Planning Department echoes this concern:

“Quarry Impacts on Project Area Hydrology
The proposed [Portola Aggregate] Project will affect the hydrology (hydrogeology and surface water hydrology) in the Project area, both during active quarry operations and post- reclamation. During active quarrying the impacted area may act as a sink, reducing groundwater flow to nearby groundwater wells and surface water features. In addition, Project activities are expected to require extraction of groundwater at a rate of approximately 50,000 gallons per day.
The environmental assessment should be supported by hydrologic studies that identify anticipated impacts in the Project area, including potential impacts to nearby groundwater wells and surface water features.”
Remember, even if Hat Creek modifies the plan to reduce their mining acreage, their daily water uses to process aggregate and asphalt would likely be the same 50,000 gallons per day if they produce the same quantity of product. That’s about a yearly household worth of water per day for a family of two. A huge amount especially if you live nearby and rely on well water for your home.

This mine is a terrible idea so close to people’s homes.

Please record this in the public record for the proposed Portola Aggregate Mine (CA mine ID#91-32-0022) located at 77413 Meadow Way (APNs 025-050-055-000 & 025-100-036-000), near Portola.

Dave Valle
Portola, CA