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TUD Will Continue Adding New Connections For Now

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors heard a presentation about the current water supply and looking out into the future.

In December there were questions raised by some board members about potentially desiring to limit or halt new connections for water service due to the drought. This would have a notable impact on new development projects.

TUD Engineer Glen Nunnelly led a presentation during a district workshop today which noted that seasonal snowpack is currently 72-percent of average after receiving a boost in recent weeks. He said it has been a dry season, but all of the district’s reservoirs will still fill to capacity. TUD’s annual supply is 20,833 acre feet of water and the demand is 16,100 acre feet.

The remaining supply, over 4,000 acre feet, could supply water for an additional 13,500 single family residences, based on an average daily use of 265 gallons per day. District GM Ed Pattison added that demand for the current customers is expected to decline over the coming years due to state directives about limiting use.

Many of the board members had questions about the impacts of potential large fires on water supply. Director Lisa Murphy added she would like more information about the potential impacts of climate change impacts and cited academic studies about different scenarios.

General Manager Pattison said staff has been working toward diversifying water supplies whether it be related to climate change or emergencies like fires. He cited the Sierra Pines water project underway, the potential acquisition of PG&E infrastructure, and pursuing water from New Melones. We reported earlier that a community meeting is planned about those efforts on February 18.

Board member Barbara Balen indicated that there appears to be enough supply right now, but it is something that needs to be monitored over the coming months.

Director Ron Ringen stated that more will be known about the long term supplies after the community weighs in on various plans being discussed on the 18th.

Board member Jeff Kerns made a motion to continue adding connections currently, and it was seconded by Director David Boatright. Kerns noted there is still a long way to go in the moisture year, and there could still be much more precipitation over the next few months.

Murphy stated she wants more information about the bigger picture, and was against a declaration. She believed that today’s workshop would be simply informational in nature. Ringen agreed, and they both abstained when it came time to vote. Balen voted against the formal declaration, but noted this simply means nothing changes over the near term.

TUD Attorney Jesse Barton clarified that since no formal action was approved, the district will continue the status quo, adding new connections upon request over the immediate period.

It is a topic that will be further discussed by the board at future meetings.