Sonora, CA — Water supply remains a concern, and implementing drought measures is proving to be costly.
T.U.D. General Manager Tom Scesa reported to the Board of Supervisors that Sonora has received 7.4 inches of rain this year, which is roughly a third of what is expected for this time of year. He noted that long-term weather projections are not looking promising, as no significant rain is expected over the next three weeks. “The concept of a ‘March Miracle’ is becoming less and less likely,” said Scesa.
T.U.D. continues to strive for a 50% reduction in overall water consumption, and is asking customers to continue the stage three conservation measures. In addition, the District has been working towards utilizing additional wells, and within the next week could begin pumping up to 2,400 acre ft. of water out of New Melones as part of an agreement with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. The district has also received a reprieve, through PG&E’s help, related to fish release regulations at Lyons Reservoir. It is required that Lyons Dam flow water into the South Fork of the Stanislaus, to help the fish population, and a temporary reprieve has been granted.
The several conservation measures being implemented by the district, and water purchases, are expected to cost around $5 million. The county previously declared a local disaster declaration, and a request for emergency financial assistance has been submitted to the state. Scesa was asked by the Board of Supervisors whether he expects the state to cover the costs, due to the drought emergency. He said the district was the first agency to formally submit a state funding request. “Whether or not they are going to pay for it all, I don’t know,” he said. “When I spoke to the staff (State OES), all they would say is that we are first in line and have done a good job.”
T.U.D.’s measures are designed to leave the district with around 3,000 acre ft. of water by next January, with hope that additional rain and snow will fall between then and now.