The Water In Paradise Is Safe and Clean: An Interview with Paradise Irrigation District

Did you know: The Paradise Irrigation District will mark its 106th birthday this year? To celebrate its long history–and the return of metered billing this month, a strong sign of a returning economy–we asked Mickey Rich, PID Assistant District Manager, to share a bit more about PID origins and what residents can expect from their water going forward.

How did the Paradise Irrigation District get its start?

The Paradise Irrigation District was formed by Paradise voters in 1916 as a community effort to provide irrigation water for apple orchards. In 1918, Paradise property owners voted 224-24 for a bond to assess their properties against the cost of building a dam to create the Magalia Reservoir. The estimated cost for the dam was $350,000 and the total assessed property was $348,000—Paradise residents made a huge commitment to their water with that vote! The dam was built and pipes installed to deliver water throughout the Ridge. By 1934, there were so many connections to the pipes that carried the irrigation water that the District installed water meters for the increasing number of homes—not just orchards—that were using the water.

What service area does PID cover?

PID boundaries are very similar to the boundaries of the Town of Paradise. In fact, it’s widely believed the Town created its boundaries to match PID’s when it was incorporated in 1979. PID delivers water across 11,500 acres of land, or just under 18 square miles.

What services does it provide?

Paradise Irrigation District provides safe, clean—and delicious!—drinking water for our community. The PID Treatment Plant can monitor the safety and quality of up to 16 million gallons of water each day. The District also maintains fire hydrants for the Town of Paradise and provides backflow maintenance and fire flow testing for customers who request those services.

The District owns Paradise Lake, which it leases to the Paradise Recreation and Park District for recreation opportunities, and maintains the forest surrounding our lakes and reservoirs to provide a healthy water supply and a healthy forest to protect the watershed area and benefit our community.

PID has a long-standing cooperative relationship with the Town of Paradise working on joint projects, including coordinating utility work for road projects such as the recent downtown work on Almond Street and the safe routes to school projects. In case of snow, PID provides staff and equipment for plowing.

Where does the PID water come from?

Customers of the Paradise Irrigation District are fortunate because we enjoy a high-quality water supply from the upper portion of the Little Butte Creek Watershed (about 7,400 acres). Water which falls within this watershed (mostly via rain, and a little from snow) flows into either Paradise Lake and/or Magalia Reservoir. These two reservoirs are owned and operated by the District for the purpose of storing water for the residents of the District.

In addition, PID has a fully-tested emergency and drought groundwater source that produces up to 450 gallons per minute.

Is the water in Paradise safe?

Yes! The drinking water is safe. Paradise Lake and Magalia Reservoir remain pristine and the Quality Assurance Monitoring ensures the water meets or exceeds regulations.

After the fire, the District performed extensive research to understand the water contamination issue and performed hundreds of thousands of tests to ensure the water flowing within the distribution system is clean and healthful.

PID performs a complete replacement of all water connections so households can be assured of the safety of their water. They’ve also added backflow prevention requirements for every connection to mitigate against future fire catastrophe and to protect the water system by making sure water continues to flow in the right direction.

The Quality Assurance Monitoring is sampling the District performs above and beyond what the state requires. It is essentially retesting many of the previous sample sites to ensure the water in the system continues to meet state standards. This additional sampling would also alert the District of any new water quality issues related to reduced population and water flow.

If the testing were to indicate a new issue, PID could mitigate it by increased flushing in the affected area so the water stays fresh and meets regulations during its journey from the lake to customer homes.

What would you want people moving to Paradise for the first time to know?

New customers should know PID is their water district and they have a say in the future of their water. PID’s Board of Directors encourages the public to participate in monthly meetings and on citizen committees. Paradise residents have something special in regard to their water: a locally run district and a plentiful water source that is neither dependent on snowfall or groundwater, and run by local residents who really care about delivering high-quality water and exceptional customer service.

In the first year of recovery post Camp Fire, the District repaired over 500 system leaks and continues to respond to contractor-related leaks daily. Please contact the District to plan your water reconnect early in the building process. Call 8-11 underground service alert if you or your contractor plan to dig.

When will PID customers begin paying for water again?

The District has been installing meters since August of 2021. PID’s meter’s communication system will be up and running in January 2022, and they anticipate around 400 customers will begin paying for their water consumption in March or April of 2022.  As the contractors move through town to install meters, PID will be notifying customers at least 45 days in advance of the upcoming change in billing, and all PID customers will be paying for their water use by the end of 2022.

How does the return of healthy water and metered billing support the rebuilding efforts in Paradise and the return of a strong economy?

Paradise is fortunate to have a unique water supply and safe, great-tasting water. Many long-time residents will remember local water-tasting challenges and how Paradise water always came out a winner for its clarity and refreshing taste. The restoration of Paradise water was an important milestone in our community’s recovery.

Returning to metered billing is another exciting milestone in Paradise’s recovery. With the absence of metering, the District has had no ability to collect much-needed revenue, revenue needed to maintain the plants, staffing, and all that goes into the delivery of a clean and healthy water system. Metering also provides insight into where that water is being used to help us all plan for the future of Paradise.

Since the Fire, PID has restored water to 172 miles of pipeline, performed close to half a million water tests to find and fix any water quality issues, fixed thousands of leaks, supported our community through debris clean up and helped customers overcome individual challenges that came with restoring clean water and replacing service laterals to their property.

PID currently services 4000 active customers (38% of pre-fire customers) with new orders coming in every day.  We are a community that is rebuilding and coming back quicker than estimated, and a growing community needs a stable and dependable water service provider.

Make it Paradise Newsletter

This newsletter is designed to keep you informed of the ongoing recovery efforts as we rebuild Paradise.  Each week you will receive a newsletter with events, current numbers (building permits, etc.), current topics and a weekly Q&A.

Occasionally, we may send out an extra newsletter pertaining to an upcoming event or important information.