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Water Fire Drafting Points

It may seem really strange to be discussing ‘drought’ and ‘fire danger’ here in the middle of winter…a winter that has been, so far, pretty good to us with a fair amount of rain and snowpack accumulation. But, summer and the heat are just a few months away and we have a forest that is horribly overgrown and now loaded with drought and bark beetle dead trees that are just looking for a spark to ignite. With such a possible fire danger here in Tuolumne County that easily could mirror the sad, devastating Calaveras Butte Fire, just what are we doing to alleviate that danger? The watershed that supplies T.U.D. (Tuolumne Utilities District) with water for a large portion of the County population, agriculture and local economy has not had a real fire in it for over 100 years. We need to thin and rehabilitate this forest, our watershed, but that will take time and money we just don’t have right now. So, what to do, what to do?

Well, how about building in some protection while we work on trying to find solutions to ‘re-habing’ our forest/watershed? What if we got all of our local stakeholders together and we all worked together to provide immediate accessible, dependable water sources for fire suppression that are located throughout our county, especially in our outlying communities where fire hydrants either don’t exist, or the fire water flow is inadequate and/or the infrastructure (pipes) are old, decayed and undependable in high flow situations. Sound expensive, sound like a dream? Well, no, it pretty much exists right now, if only we make the last few details come together. The T.U.D. ditch system is a huge, long, fully ‘charged’ fire hose stretched throughout our County right in our communities. All that we have to do is put it to use!

What if we had sequestration points (in-ground and above ground ‘tanks’, ponds, stock ponds, etc.) fed by this ditch system in original and now pre-determined ideal locations that allowed our firefighting forces immediate and (hopefully) adequate water to put out any fire that somehow got started in one of our neighborhoods and prevented it from escaping out into the forest? THAT is what our heirloom ditch system is begging us to take advantage of! Please contact myself, Ron W. Ringen, and I’ll be more than happy to fill you in with details. You can also contact the several area leaders and utility managers that see the value in this plan and how valuable the ditch system is to reduce our fire vulnerability. Please contact your County Supervisors, fire officials, community service districts and other community leaders to encourage them to get these fire water draft points located, installed and ready for use now. For once, let’s be proactive instead of reactive!