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Sampling To Begin Ahead Of Phoenix Lake Restoration

Sonora, CA – Don’t be surprised if you see a floating barge on Phoenix Lake next week.

The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) has hired a contractor to conduct sediment sampling as it moves forward the district’s Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project, which aims to improve the lake’s water quality and storage capacity of the lake and watershed. Ahead of the design and permitting steps, Horizon Water and Environment, Inc. will be using the barge to gather samples from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. next Monday through Thursday, according to TUD officials.

It has taken several years of collaborating between TUD and the Phoenix Lake Task Force to finally get the lake preservation and restoration project in place. The district was able to wrangle about $5 million in grant funding through the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Authority for the effort.

Improving Water Quality, Restoring 30% In Storage Capacity

TUD owns water rights, facilities and actual portions of Phoenix Lake, an 88-acre water storage reservoir, located about three miles east of downtown Sonora. The lake serves as a primary drinking water source for Sonora, Jamestown, Scenic View and Mono Village. While its allowable storage capacity is approximately 850 acre-feet, its current state constrains it to about 600 acre-feet. District Engineer Erik Johnson emphasizes that its reduced capacity affects water quality, which, marginal at times, is declining due to nutrient inputs, sedimentation and invasive aquatic vegetation.

Johnson shares that his office is pleased to be able to take the next step in the process to design and secure permits. Further explaining next week’s task, he adds, “The results of the lab analysis of the sediment will inform us about the chemical composition of the sediment, its physical characteristics, and also any environmental issues that may need to be addressed when the sediment is removed from the lake.”

Once underway, the project will include the construction of a sediment forebay, which will remove a majority of the sediments that flow into the lake via the Sullivan Creek watershed. Since sediment removal is also essential for water quality improvement and the lake’s long term health as well as to maintain storage capacity, dredging is also planned in a separate phase of the project sometime in early 2018. For more details on the plan, click here.