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T.U.D.’s Water Cuts Too Deep?

Sonora, CA – Claiming T.U.D. could be creating “a false revenue shortfall,” one board is calling for the board to reconsider customers’ 30 percent mandatory water restrictions.

As previously reported, Director Kent Johnson has questioned the higher conservation standard, since the state is only calling for T.U.D. to adhere to a mandatory 24 percent reduction.  At last night’s meeting, an updated staff report indicated that both Pinecrest and Lyons reservoirs have spilled, with levels roughly the same as last year, and this year’s end of spill coming sometime this week. Subsequently, Johnson amplified his argument, questioning the wisdom of maintaining higher restrictions, which might wind up costing ratepayers more, later. “I don’t want to face the ire of those customers,” he stated.

T.U.D. Public Relations Manager Lisa Westbrook pointed out that a change now could confuse customers. “We’re going into the hottest summer months and the fire potential is disastrous for this whole area. I can see possibly lowering it after we’re over that, maybe in August, and that we could see we’re hitting the state targets, but to go back and forth to the customers is extremely confusing.” Westbrook suggested a post-summer lowering of the conservation rate could apply later, as a reward to customers for meeting the 30 percent goal.

Johnson countered, “I believe our customers very well understand the difference between 30 percent mandatory and 24 percent …and when they know that, very clearly, if we have excess water standing up there for PG&E to use, they’re going to pay. We’re going to ask them to pay us because we have another revenue shortfall — we are creating a false revenue shortfall.”

In the end the board voted 4-1, with John Maciel against, to put the item up for discussion and a vote at a future meeting.