TSF Showcases Hydraulic Mine Restoration Major Cost Benefits for Water Agency

On October 3, The Sierra Fund shared eye- opening preliminary results with the Yuba Water Agency from our Benefit-Cost Analysis of Hydraulic Mine Remediation. Abandoned hydraulic mines release huge amounts of sediment that impair downstream water infrastructure. Analysis using Lidar mapping and WEPP modeling found that 80-90% of the sediment clogging the agency’s Log Cabin Dam and Our House Dam is from abandoned hydraulic mines. In the last five years alone, Yuba Water spent $20M to remove sediment from just Log Cabin and Our House Dams.

The analysis found that you can greatly reduce sediment coming from these hydraulic mine sites through restoration and save money in operations and maintenance. For every $1 spent on addressing the source of the problem by restoring the upstream hydraulic mine sites – the agency saves $2.9 dollars in downstream maintenance. We are optimistic about future collaborations to restore hydraulic mines in the agency’s watersheds and highlight the cost-benefits to other water agencies and land managers of hydraulic mine restoration.

Thanks goes to Yuba Water Agency and Bay Area Council for funding support and to co-authors on this study of World Resources Institute and Blue Forest Conservation. Stay tuned for the public release of the final analysis in early 2024.