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Pinecrest Water Level Meeting

Sonora, CA — The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will hold a public workshop at 10:00 am, Thursday October 4th regarding the Pinecrest Reservoir lake level.

A Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) and PG&E proposal and SWRCB’s recommendations for Pinecrest Lake level elevations will be discussed. The meeting will be held with the SWRCB at the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Chambers in the County building on Green Street.

Prior to 2009, the State had no restriction on the level of Pinecrest Lake and PG&E was able to deliver water from Pinecrest to Lyons as necessary for use by TUD customers. Between 1975 and 2009, at Labor Day the Pinecrest Lake elevation ranged from between 5,600 and 5,610, with an average elevation of 5,606. In 2009, the SWRCB issued a permit to PG&E which disallowed deliveries of water from Pinecrest to TUD customers if Pinecrest Lake was expected to fall below 5,608 in elevation before Labor Day.

Pete Kampa, TUD General Manager states 95% of the water supply needs of TUD’s customers comes from Pinecrest Lake and is vital to the health and safety of the community. He states that Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and TUD have made efforts to reduce the amount of water used from Pinecrest Lake during the summer. TUD also made water supply calculations for current and future customers based on a water supply contract with PG&E that did not limit the amount of water TUD can receive from Pinecrest.

Kampa says, “We do all of our planning based on access to approximately 24,500 acre feet of water, with 18,000 of that coming from Pinecrest Lake.” Kampa notes, “Unfortunately the Pinecrest Lake level restriction reduces our available summer water supply to very minimal amounts and will require mandatory water conservation by TUD customers in many years. The restriction all but eliminates water supply available for future customers of TUD.”

TUD has been making significant efforts to secure a lake level that will support Tuolumne County since the restrictions were imposed by the State in 2009. In December, 2011, TUD in cooperation with PG&E submitted a request to the SWRCB to allow Pinecrest to be operated as it was before the SWRCB adopted the restrictions in 2009. In response to the proposal, the SWRCB has recommended that the lake level restriction remain at 5608, with the ability to draw the lake down to 5606 in very dry years.

TUD is not proposing to lower the level of Pinecrest Lake, simply to have PG&E be able to operate the lake as it has throughout history. Every year, TUD and PG&E are required to submit a plan that keeps the lake as close to 5610 as possible and changing this is not part of the proposal.

“The water supply of Tuolumne County is at risk. The new lake level elevation has disabled TUD’s access to water supply to the detriment of the economy and has placed recreation needs first over drinking water and agricultural needs in the County,” states Pete Kampa, General Manager. The County is always looking at attracting new businesses and growing its economy. Without a modified level water supply it could affect economic growth,” continues Kampa.

The purpose of the State staff workshop is for the SWRCB to answer questions and receive oral comments from public agencies and members of the public on PG & E’s request for modification of Pinecrest Conditions and the staff’s proposed amendment to the certification.