Pinecrest Lake Level – Water Supply

SONORA, CA: At a Special Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) Board meeting today, Board of Directors as well as members of the public, were updated on TUD’s current water supply and how this relates to the Pinecrest Lake Level Study.

TUD is bracing for a potential drought situation created by a new State restriction that will affect its water customers. During today’s meeting, Peter J. Kampa, General Manager, stated “The District remains committed to provide our customers with a reliable, adequate supply of clean, safe water. We take this very seriously and work hard with our partners, such as PG&E, to ensure we can deliver the water you need.”

Since January, TUD staff has been closely monitoring its water supply due to lack of snow pack and early spring runoff. TUD relies on the Sierra snowpack for its water supply, fed to
Reservoirs by the South Fork Stanislaus River. TUD is forecasting that the “End of Spill” or the spring snow-melt will subside to a point where domestic supply is met through stored water starting next week. The stored water comes first from Lyons Reservoir which lasts about 65 days and then water must be moved down from Pinecrest Lake after that. Pinecrest Lake and Lyons Reservoir are part of two hydro-electric power generation facilities owned, maintained and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG & E). In an agreement with PG & E, TUD receives its water supply from Lyons Reservoir through the 15.7 mile Main Canal.

Recently, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) limited PG & E and TUD’s midsummer access to water in Pinecrest Lake. The new State restriction requires that Pinecrest Lake be kept at a high elevation all summer until Labor Day to support recreation.

“As required by the SWRCB, PG&E recently completed a Pinecrest Lake Level Study to determine the effects on recreation of a fluctuation in the Pinecrest Lake elevation by up to eight feet lower before Labor Day. This fluctuation of lake level almost exactly mirrors the way the lake level has been historically managed,” stated Kampa. “Since the Lake Level Study determined that there was virtually no impact on recreation at the lower levels studied, TUD and PG&E have requested a long term modification of this State lake level restriction. Unfortunately it will take the SWRCB some time to act on this request and we will not meet this State required elevation this summer. Therefore TUD is in the process of working with PG&E and the to be allowed to pull water from Pinecrest Lake this summer to meet its customer’s water needs,” continues Kampa.

The Tuolumne Utilities District currently serves over 44,000 Tuolumne County residents. The District currently owns and operates 14 water treatment plants, 71 treated water storage tanks, two wastewater treatment plants, approximately 57 miles of open ditches, 157 miles of sewer collection pipe and 330 miles of treated water pipeline.

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