The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD or District) Board of Directors on Tuesday, May 5th awarded a $4.1 million contract to Steve Manning Construction, Inc. (SMC) for the construction of the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project. The Board unanimously supported the contract approval at a Special Board meeting held May 5th via a publicly accessible electronic platform.
Residents in the vicinity of Phoenix Lake (Lake or Reservoir) may see construction activity as soon as June depending on weather conditions. During the construction phase of the project, the lake water level must be kept as low as possible to allow the lake bed to dry. This will allow the contractor to excavate and haul the dry soil out of the reservoir and place it on the adjacent Indigeny Apple Ranch Orchards to the north of the reservoir.
Phoenix Lake is an 88-acre water storage reservoir located approximately 3 miles east of the City of Sonora. Phoenix Lake water rights and facilities, as well as portions of the lake, are owned by the TUD. The TUD uses the lake as a primary drinking water source for the communities of Sonora, Jamestown, Scenic View and Mono Village. While the allowable storage capacity of the lake is approximately 850 acre-feet (ac‐ft), the current capacity is only 600 ac‐ft. The reduction in storage capacity accompanies a degradation in water quality characterized by warm water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen, zones of stagnation, proliferation of invasive aquatic vegetation and the emergence of seasonal taste and odor compounds, all complicating the water treatment processes.
The Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project restores water storage capacity by removing accumulated sediment, improves water quality through retention of particles, increasing water depth, establishing better circulation patterns, and enhancing aquatic habitat including wetlands function.
The purpose and need for the project have been widely recognized for over 15 years. In 2004, local citizens formed the Phoenix Lake Taskforce, which was the original driving force behind a successful application for a planning grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to develop the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Plan. The plan was the precursor to several implementation grant applications sponsored by the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Authority (T-Stan IRWMA) a local, collaborative joint powers authority. Through the T-Stan IRWMA, the project received Proposition 84 Round 2 funding in 2014 and additional Proposition 84 Drought funding in 2015.
Once completed, this project will improve the water quality and restore storage capacity in Phoenix Lake and the Phoenix Lake watershed as well as enhance the aesthetics of the lake and surrounding area. For more information regarding this project and to subscribe to an email list on project updates, visit TUD’s website https://tudwater.com/projects/phoenix-lake/.