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TUD To Vote On $4.2-Million Phoenix Lake Contract

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne Utilities District will vote on moving forward on a long-planned project designed to restore capacity and improve the water quality at Phoenix Lake.

The board of directors will vote Tuesday afternoon on a $4.2-million construction contract with KW Emerson, Inc. The reservoir’s listed capacity is 850-acre-feet, but years of sedimentation has reduced it to around 600-acre-feet.  Phoenix Lake is the primary water supply for Sonora, East Sonora, Jamestown, Mono Village and Scenic View.

TUD has received over $5-million in Proposition 84 state funding for the project and the district will pay around $1.2-million. Around $945,000 have been spent to date on the project (design, permitting, environmental review, etc), and $1.2-million will be needed for projected non-construction future expenses (construction management, landowner sediment disposal agreement, an endowment for a conservation easement, stormwater pollution prevention plan, etc.)

The project has been scaled back, for financial reasons, from what was originally proposed five years ago.

The meeting documents note, “The highest priority areas were identified as the North Pool, Central Pool, and Sandbar Area.  The North Pool is a critical project component because it is designed to localize and trap incoming sediment rather than allowing sediment to be broadcast throughout the lake.  By concentrating the sediment removal in one location, at the confluence of Chicken, Power, and Sullivan Creek, the District will be able to remove accumulated sediments at some maintenance interval and avoid future large-scale dredging projects.  The sandbar is vital to enhance circulation patterns in the lake and force cold water to travel southward into the main body of the reservoir.  The new flow pattern will alleviate stagnation, which contributes to elevated water temperatures, growth in aquatic vegetation, and poor water quality.  The underlying goal of the District is to complete as much construction as possible within the constraints of the available funding.”

The project construction can be completed during the coronavirus pandemic because water infrastructure is deemed an essential service.

Tuesday’s meeting of the board of directors will start at 2pm.

The board will also hear a strategic plan update from district staff and discuss priorities for the current time and the future.