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TUD Board To Hear Update On Planned Phoenix Lake Project

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne Utilities District has been working to secure a permit from the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) over the past three years in hopes of moving forward on the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project.

Phoenix Lake’s listed capacity is 850 acre feet of water, however, years of sedimentation have reduced it to around 600 acre feet. The project plans to restore capacity by removing sediment, improving water quality and establishing better circulation. Some of the benefits include increased water reliability, fire protection and fish and wildlife habitat enhancement.

The company Horizon Water and Environment has been helping the district through the process of design, permitting and environmental compliance. On Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting agenda is a request for $99,000 in additional funding to finish the work. A letter from the company to TUD reads, “Reaching a final authorization and approval from the USACE will require additional coordination with USACE staff, additional technical analysis of alternatives, evaluation of potential mitigation obligations, and the potential submittal of additional documents to the USACE including a potentially revised application and mitigation plan.”

The meeting documents prepared by TUD staff for the board, note, “The project is at a critical juncture; if a Clean Waters Act Section 404 Permit is not issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers within the next few months, the district is in jeopardy of losing grant funding vital for implementation of the project.”

The project was first looked at in 2004 by a citizen formed Phoenix Lake Taskforce, and that group released a final report in 2010. Grant funding was secured in 2011 to develop the formal plan, and additional grant money was received in the years that followed. Permitting and environmental work commenced in 2016 and the district executed sediment reuse agreements with adjoining landowners. TUD adopted a CEQA Mitigated Negative Declaration in 2017. The district has since received needed certifications and agreements from the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The final permit from the USACE is the last big item required to begin construction.

The project will be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting that starts at 2pm at the TUD District Office.