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TUD Gives Updates On Phoenix Lake, Infrastructure, And PG&E Talks

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Sonora, CA — Leaders with the Tuolumne Utilities District have positives to relay regarding improvements to Phoenix Lake, efforts to streamline infrastructure, and increasing water security.

They were among the topics that TUD General Manager Ed Pattison and District Engineer Erik Johnson addressed on Mother Lode Views this past weekend.

Pattison is completing his first year as GM and noted that 2019 was a fresh opportunity to take a look at the organization, conduct strategic planning, and further review long-term needs.

He says, “We were really focused on the first year, but we were also looking out five, 10 and 15 years, strategically, so that we have a trajectory that leads us to better services, more efficiencies, and continual improvement.”

Phoenix Lake Dredging Moving Forward

There are some new developments in the long-discussed plan to dredge and enhance Phoenix Lake.

District Engineer Johnson relays, “Over the course of the last year we were actively pursuing the final permit from the US Army Corp of Engineers that would allow us to release this project for bid and proceed with construction. We just recently have received assurances that we will have that permit, in hand, with enough time to initiate construction this coming summer.”

Public meetings will be held for nearby property owners ahead of construction. Click here here to view an earlier story regarding the project.

GM Pattison adds, “The delays have been completely regulatory driven. TUD’s been at the table, trying to get this done, year after year. We’ve just been responding to new, and ever-increasing more onerous regulations.”

A majority of the $6-million-plus project will be funded by state grant dollars.

Streamlining The District’s Infrastructure

On the issue of infrastructure, the two addressed the district’s Treated Water Optimization plan, which identifies methodology to reduce the 14 water treatment plants down to two regional water treatment plants, which would be more “state of the art,” and “cost-efficient.”

Sierra Pines Regional water treatment plant is one of the early efforts, where 30 percent of the design is now complete. Once it goes into construction the district will develop further plans for a Sonora Regional Water Treatment Plant, and a wastewater plant.

Securing Water Rights And Additional Supply

In relation to water security, TUD is very reliant on PG&E, because the company owns and operates Pinecrest Lake, Lyons Reservoir and the Tuolumne Main Canal. It has been widely known that TUD has an interest in acquiring some of PG&E’s assets.

General Manager Pattison updates, “Tuolumne Utilities District is actively in discussions with Pacific Gas and Electric on the water supply system that conveys water into Tuolumne County, what that system is, and whether or not TUD is in a position to be able to acquire the facility. This has been going on for a couple of years. We have made significant progress, and we are going to be rolling out a community-wide discussion probably within the next few months where we’ll hold a town hall, and a series of workshops, and really entertain a community-wide discussion about what that means, and looks like, and where we would like to go.”

On a similar topic, TUD is also working with the US Bureau of Reclamation regarding New Melones Reservoir water, and the potential ability to acquire water rights.

Pattison says, “One of the most important strategies I’ve always employed is diversity of water supply, and diversity for points of diversion, and having redundancy. For over a century Tuolumne County has relied on a single point of water supply, and a single point of conveyance, in one of the most high forested, high fire risk areas, in the state.”

This is something the district is hoping to change.

Click here to view an earlier story on the topic of acquiring water from New Melones.

Click here to find the entire Mother Lode Views show archived. Part one focuses on long term planning and the Phoenix Lake project, part two touches on consolidating the infrastructure and part three was in relation to water security and new supply opportunities.

  • Erik Johnson and Ed Pattison

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