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Water Supply Tied To Pinecrest

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne Utilities District is concerned about water supply, and new state regulations related to Pinecrest Lake.

T.U.D. has been closely monitoring its water supply due to the light winter snowpack. T.U.D. relies on the snowpack, which is fed into reservoirs by the South Fork Stanislaus River. T.U.D. is forecasting that runoff from the spring snowmelt will subside later this week, to the point that T.U.D. will have to start relying on stored water. This water comes from Lyons Reservoir, and lasts around 65 days. When it runs out, water must be moved down from Pinecrest Lake via an agreement with PG&E.

The State Water Resources Control Board recently approved new regulations stating that Pinecrest Lake must not drop below an elevation of 5,608 ft. before Labor Day. T.U.D. General Manager Pete Kampa says it was done to benefit the recreational values at Pinecrest, as opposed to the water needs of T.U.D. customers.

For comparison, last year Pinecrest Lake was at 5,610 ft. at Labor Day, following the heavy winter snowpack. During the drought year of 2007, it was 5,605 at Labor Day.

Kampa and others at T.U.D. are working with the PG&E and the State Water Control Board in hopes of having it dropped to 5,606 ft. Kampa says it is going to be very difficult to meet water supply needs if the state does not take action. It would result in significant conservation measures, which he feels are unnecessary.

“People could stop watering their grass, we can stop watering golf courses, we can stop watering log decks and things like that, but those things create jobs and are important to the community,” says Kampa. “There’s absolutely no reason that the state needs to maintain that elevation at 5,608.”

Kampa argues that dropping it to 5,606 would not have a notable impact on recreation. He says T.U.D. expects to have a response from the state within the next week or so, so stay tuned.