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Sonora, CA — TUD has implemented additional water restrictions. At a special meeting tonight, the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt several amendments to the Phase III conservation requirements due to the ongoing drought.

TUD General Manager Tom Scesa stressed the critical condition of the water supply. “If we don’t cut our consumption by 50%, we will run out of water, period,” said Scesa. The picture to the upper left was taken today, and shows the low water level at Pinecrest Lake.

The Board continues to set the usage reduction goal at 50% for customers. The key changes included adding spas and decorative ponds to the no fill water order, moving landscaping watering times to 7 p.m. through 9 a.m., and gives T.U.D. officials the ability to ban all outside watering if needed.

Director Michael Sarno questioned that change, saying, “We have a lot of people who have invested a lot of money in their property.”

However, during the public hearing, some customers were in favor of banning all outside watering.  Customer David Johnson argued, “I’m not convinced that you are treating water the way I would like to see it treated. I put human usage and agricultural usage far above lawns. Some investments go south. I have a lawn, I’m gonna let it die.”

Eight people voiced their opinions to the board at the hearing. Most were concerned about how the restrictions will be implemented.

Customer Glen Carroll questioned the fairness of the 50% reduction. “It seems unfair. If you have a couple, living on a large parcel, that has a lot of landscaping, they sit back and let their lawn die and they’ve met their 50% goal. You take another family of six or so, they don’t have any landscaping, and they’re asked to cut back 50%. That doesn’t seem fair,” says Carroll.

Director Kent Johnson also urged the Board to make the reductions fair. “We don’t have anything in here that addresses an equitable allocation of water per person. It’s difficult, but something can be done and I would like to see the district work on that,” said Johnson. He was also concerned that the changes be made clear and available to customers.

Director Ruanne Mikkelsen agreed and suggested, “I think it’s helpful when the public is given a target, something to shoot for. I think the idea of the General Manager saying ‘if each individual could limit their use to x amount’; a lot of us would try to meet that (goal).”

Twain Harte Community Services District General Manager Tom Trott gave his support. “We fiercely support taking this action tonight. We are completely on board with 50% percent conservation. We realize this is a very dire and immediate situation that requires dire and immediate action, “said Trott.

A revised Phase III amendment resolution with all the changes was not available at the time this story was posted.

In addition, the Board voted unanimously to give Board Chair John Maciel the authority to execute agreements to secure additional water supply during the drought and hold a meeting of the Board within 72 hours to confirm the purchase. The authorization will end when Phase III Conservation is declared over. As reported previously, TUD has been in talks with the South San Joaquin Irrigation District regarding water from New Melones.

Meanwhile, a vote on a potential increase in ratepayer fees to offset costs associated with the drought is expected to come at next week’s meeting.

T.U.D.’s main water supply comes from Lyons Reservoir and Pinecrest Lake.

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