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Columbia, CA — The sale of up to 2,400 acre ft. of water out of New Melones will play an important part in the upcoming fire season.

Over the past couple of week’s we’ve been reporting on the sale of the water allotment from the South San Joaquin Irrigation District. “When we look at the water coming from New Melones, it will go into our Columbia water treatment plant,” says T.U.D. General Manager Tom Scesa. “And that water treatment plant, along with our ditch system coming out of the Columbia area, specifically serves some important customers, and the most notable is the CAL Fire Air Attack base. That air attack base not only serves Tuolumne County, but the Central Sierra.”

Scesa notes that the water is not pumping quite yet from New Melones, but says, “It should be coming fairly soon, and the agreements are moving forward.”

Despite the New Melones supply, Scesa says the district’s current conservation measures remain “extremely important.” So far this year, Sonora has received about 7 ½ inches of rain, and the average for this time of year is around 22. Scesa notes that he’s pleased to see precipitation in the forecast for the remainder of the week, but does not believe it will be nearly enough to get out of the drought. “The predictions I’ve heard are around one to two inches of rain, or one to two ft. of snow, and we need closer to 10 to 15 in order to remove the conservation measures.”

Last night the T.U.D. board voted on new water rates to offset costs related to the drought. Click here to view the story.