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Too Many Treatment Plants?

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne Utilities District is looking to streamline the way that treated water gets to customers.

In 2009 the T.U.D. Board directed staff to create a 20-year-plan related to the treated water system. T.U.D. officials briefed the Tuolumne County Supervisors about the development of the plan at this week’s Supervisors meeting.

“Currently we’ve got 14 surface water treatment plants, serving 14,000 connections,” said T.U.D. District Engineer Tom Scesa. “Modesto has one, Sacramento has one, and we’ve got 14. It’s not efficient.”

A challenge that T.U.D. has faced over recent years is taking over smaller water companies in the county, either voluntarily or by court order. It was noted that three of the existing T.U.D. plants will be out of state compliance within two years. The 20-year-plan will have multiple phases, which include planning, finding capital, and execution.

Scesa noted that water treatment plant operators currently drive 480 miles a day in order to oversee all of the treatment plants, tanks and test points. T.U.D. is projecting 2.25% annual growth in connections over the next 20 years.

Eventually there will be different options that the T.U.D. board will decide upon when it comes to the future of treated water delivery, but the 20-year-plan is still in the early development stages.

“We need to be responsible and plan for future generations, not just today’s maintenance,” said T.U.D. General Manager Pete Kampa. “If we had this to do all over, and could wipe everything clean, that’s what this project is all about.”

T.U.D. says a central goal is to save ratepayers money in the long term, and remain in compliance with state and federal laws.

At the end of the presentation, Board of Supervisors Chairman Dick Pland praised the members of T.U.D. for taking up the challenge.