History of Biggs-West Gridley Water District

Biggs-West Gridley Water District (BWGWD) is a California Water District responsible for providing irrigation water to agricultural water users within its service area and was formed by a vote of landowners on September 24, 1942. Petitions for the formation of the district had been signed by landowners and presented at the Butte County Board of Supervisors chamber in connection with a hearing earlier that year. Following formation, an election was held on December 21, 1942 to determine whether or not to issue bonds to provide revenue for the beginning of operations. More than half of the eligible voters participated in the election, unanimously voting in favor of issuing the bonds, and the district purchased 28% of the Sutter Butte Canal Company’s (SBCC) properties and pre-1914 water rights. The district’s service area and distribution system have been further expanded over the years, and currently encompasses 34,785 acres of land.

In 1957 BWGWD, Richvale Irrigation District (RID), Butte Water District (BWD), and Sutter Extension Water District (SEWD) organized to form the Joint Water Districts Board (Joint Districts) to coordinate their efforts in managing the Sutter Butte Canal Company (SBCC) distribution system, which they all share a portion of. In 1969, the Joint Districts entered into a settlement agreement with the State allowing for the diversion of up to 555,000 acre feet from the Feather River at the Thermalito Afterbay following its construction and the construction of Lake Oroville as part of the State Water Project.

The district is represented by a board of directors made up of five members. Each director is elected for a four-year term by landowners within the district. The board of directors elect a board president to run the meetings, a vice-president to serve if the board president is unavailable, and a board secretary and treasurer.

Since its inception, a majority of the land in the district has been in rice production due to the dominance of heavy clay soils, favorable climate, and availability of water for irrigation. Including crops other than rice, it has served an average of 26,000 irrigable acres between 1999 and 2012, as well as approximately 3,700 acres of the CDFW Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, and 1,000 acres of the USFWS Butte Sink Wildlife Management Area. BWGWD is entitled to approximately 161,000 acre feet of the Joint Districts allowed diversions from the Feather River between April 1 and October 31 of each year under the 1969 agreement with the State, which is subject to reduction under certain conditions.