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Drought: Local State Of Emergency

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County leaders are bringing attention to the record lack of rain and snow this season.

This morning the Board of Supervisors voted to declare a local “State of Emergency” due the drought. Representatives were on hand from the Tuolumne Utilities District, Twain Harte Community Services District and Groveland Community Services District.

T.U.D. General Manager Tom Scesa was asked by Supervisor Randy Hanvelt, about what is the “worst-case” scenario. Scesa said the District opened an emergency command center at the district office two weeks ago, where officials have looked into what would need to be done if no additional rainfall came this season. “We’re currently looking at getting water from New Melones, either by purchase or by contract, from a couple of water agencies and the federal government,” said Scesa. “We’re getting cooperation from various state and federal agencies to reduce the outflows from the reservoirs. We’re going to have to look at possibly constructing temporary water treatment plants. We’re looking at activating wells that haven’t been used, and we’re starting to test those and check the water quality.”

Scesa noted that T.U.D. has already started gathering materials to construct alternative treatment facilities. He said there have also been open conversations with the Twain Harte Community Services District, and Groveland Community Services District, to find collaborative ways to help each other. Scesa acknowledged that there are concerns that the district could run out of water if no more precipitation falls, and he is working to ensure that this does not become the case.

During the open comment session, former T.U.D. General Manager Pete Kampa, speaking on behalf of the Tuolumne County Building Industry, encouraged the county to promote water conservation. He also asked the county to take an active role in helping the effort to bring in additional water from New Melones. In addition, he encouraged the Supervisors to be aggressive in lobbying for additional water rights in the county, and new storage in additional areas.

The County Supervisors voted 5-0 to declare the local State of Emergency. By doing so, it opens the door to possible state and federal assistance.