Phoenix Lake

Project Updates

A presentation was given at the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Authority (T-S IRWMA) on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 on the latest update for the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project.

To view the PowerPoint presentation, click on this link:
T-S IRWMA Phoenix Lake Update.

Vegetation removal along the southern shoreline of Phoenix Lake and removal of sediment within Chicken Creek was previously scheduled to take place in late summer of 2021. Both items of work have been rescheduled to begin as soon as possible. The maintenance work on the spillway was also rescheduled from spring/summer of 2021 to spring/summer of 2022. Work in Chicken Creek began on 4/6/2021, and vegetation removal will begin on 4/12/2021. The work was rescheduled so that Pacific, Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) could perform urgent repair work on the main canal ditch and to allow for the lake to be filled as soon as possible in anticipation of persistent, on-going drought conditions.

During the week of 3/29/2021, PG&E informed TUD that urgent repair and maintenance needed to be conducted on the some of the flumes on the main PG&E canal coming out of Lyons Lake. The repairs require PG&E to stop the flow of water from Lyons Lake to Phoenix Lake. Currently, the water level at Phoenix Lake is below normal, and there is not sufficient volume to supply water to Sonora and Jamestown during the ditch outage. Before PG&E can perform the repairs, Phoenix Lake must be filled to the normal summer water level, which is the lake’s full capacity.

Vegetation removal will take place along the southern shoreline of the lake in the areas that are below normal winter water level. This vegetation is being targeted because the lower-than-normal lake levels over the past 2 years has cause vegetation to grow there. If the lake were filled without removing the vegetation, there would be a risk that the established plants would continue to grow taller and thicker than before the project. Removing the vegetation and the root matt followed by filling the lake would eliminate that risk. Wet soil conditions will not allow equipment to access all vegetated areas; however, the District and our contractors are determined to remove as much vegetation as possible.

Anticipated Water Level Schedule:

  • April 15th – Water levels will begin to rise.
  • April 30 to May 7 – Water levels will reach full lake capacity.
  • May 16 – 21 – First PG&E Ditch Outage. Lake levels will drop temporarily , but should stay above normal winter water level.
  • May 22 – Lake will begin to fill back up to maximum capacity.
  • Mid October – Lake will begin to lower to normal winter water level.

The District is pleased to announce that the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration project is nearing completion!

Last summer, over 160,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed from the reservoir. If that volume of sediment were to be placed on a football field, it would reach a height of nearly 100 feet. Many portions of the lake’s bottom have been deepened and new channels were constructed to give the lake a new form and enhanced function. The improvements will reduce the growth of prolific invasive aquatic vegetation while improving water quality, cold water habitat for fish, and for use as a domestic water supply.

To read the full report click this link, Project Update February 16, 2021.

TUD is pleased to report that great progress has been made on the project. To date, over 160,000 cubic yards of sediment has been removed from the reservoir. Vast portions of the lake bottom have been deepened and carved while water quality berms have been constructed to channelize water and improve circulation within the lake. Portions of Chicken Creek and Sullivan Creek have also been re-aligned and armored with rock and grout to prevent the creeks from migrating back to their original positions. For more information see the link below.

Click this link to read the complete Phoenix Lake Update Report – September 18, 2020.

Erik Johnson, District Engineer, presented a Construction Project update at the TUD Board meeting held on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. Project Update PowerPoint.

Residents adjacent to the Phoenix Lake area will notice heavy equipment in the area. Tuolumne Utilities District has hired Steve Manning Construction, Inc. (SMC) as the contractor for this phase of the construction project. Approximately 230,000 cubic yards of material is expected to be removed from the lake. In order to conduct dredging on Phoenix Lake, the lake will eventually be completely drained except for a small pool near the dam. Project documents are listed below:

The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) is excited to announce that construction on the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project (PLPRP or Project) is underway. The Project was awarded to Steve Manning Construction, Inc. (SMC) in May and construction activity begins this summer as early as July 16, 2020.

TUD would like to invite the public to attend one of three Project Information Sessions being held outdoors at the Indigeny Reserve at 14679 Summers Lane, Sonora on Thursday, July 16, 2020. TUD staff will present a project overview, answer questions and receive comments. The three sessions are being held at 4:30 pm, 5:15 pm, and 6:00pm to accommodate COVID-19 distancing requirements and allow individuals to attend when schedules allow.

After many years of meetings and careful planning, TUD is excited to announce that the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project (Project) is finally underway! The District was awarded grant funding from the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Authority (T-S IRWMA). In May 2020, the Board of Directors awarded a $4.1 million construction contract with Steve Manning Construction, Inc. (SMC) for the construction phase of the Project. Residents adjacent to the Phoenix Lake area will notice heavy equipment being moved into the area soon with actual construction activity in the reservoir beginning in late July. More details on this phase of the project can be found at this Post link:

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 may see construction activity as soon as June depending on weather conditions. Click this link to read the complete news release, TUD Board Awards Construction Contract for the Phoenix Lake Project.

Changes to Phoenix Lake

You may notice:

  1. Bird deterrents being placed such as owl figurines, orange spheres that look like eyes, and shiny ribbon. These measures will protect the birds by encouraging them to build nests at safer locations.
  2. Extremely low lake water levels. The lake has been drained as low as possible in order to dry as much as the lake as possible in preparation for dredging operations.
  3. An increase of people looking at the lake. Perspective contractors may wish to see the lake before placing bids. TUD will also be conducting field meetings with various personnel.
    The District will update this page with new updates to the project as they become available. Thank you!

Phoenix Lake Project Update

January 2019

The District is continuing to move forward with its Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project. This is a multi-year phased project that completed the Environmental Review process in 2017. The District is 90% complete with design elements associated with this project and are now awaiting final permitting approval from State agencies to move forward with the next Phase of construction.

It is estimated that final permitting from the State agencies will be completed by June 2019. After this has been completed, the District will work with property stakeholders adjacent to Phoenix Lake to start preparing for the construction phase of the project. Estimates are that construction or trenching of the lake will take place Spring 2020.

Click this link to view the Conceptual Planning Map for the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Project.

We appreciate the patience of the community and property owners along the Phoenix Lake corridor. To be updated on this project, please complete the form below to be added to our email list on updates to Phoenix Lake Project.

Project Update Letter Mailed to Property Owners – January 23, 2019


TUD Environmental Review

The main components of the Proposed Project include sediment removal and wetland enhancement, sediment reuse and disposal, and tributary improvements. Most of the sediment removed from the lake would be placed at the Cedar Ridge Apple Ranch and on the Summers property immediately north of the lake. Sediment would also be placed in strategic locations within the lake to improve water circulation and manage sedimentation. The Proposed Project would also involve sedimentation and flood protection improvements along lower Chicken Creek and construction of a crossing over Power Creek. Implementation of the Proposed Project would increase the water supply reliability and improve water quality for TUD’s largest water system, serving more than 10,000 people, as well as commercial and agricultural users.

Date Released

July 21, 2017

Public Review

August 21, 2017


Phoenix Lake Project Goals

Phoenix Lake is the primary drinking water source for Sonora, Jamestown, Scenic View, and Mono Village, in Tuolumne County’s “gold country.” Constructed in 1852 to support hydraulic mining, the 88-acre lake today is one of several reservoirs in the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) distribution system. Phoenix Lake lies three miles northeast of Sonora in a wooded meadow surrounded by alpine hills. The water serves as the principal fill source for CAL FIRE helicopter operations in the Highway 108 corridor. As a scenic aquatic habitat and wetland, Phoenix Lake is also used for non-motorized, non-contact recreation by adjacent homeowners and on a limited basis by the general public. A loss of one third of Phoenix Lake’s water storage capacity has occurred over the past 100 years.

The goals of the Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Plan are to develop conceptual plans to:

  • improve water quality,
  • increase water storage,
  • reduce future silt buildup,
  • increase wetlands habitat value and functionality,
  • evaluate public access,
  • improve fire protection and educate property owners surrounding the lake about appropriate land maintenance practices.
  • determine and describe the necessary level of environmental analysis and permitting requirements for potential construction and maintenance projects developed in the conceptual plan.

Sierra Nevada Conservancy Grant & TUD Funding

This evaluation project is funded by a $100,000 Sierra Nevada Conservancy Grant and $120,000 TUD matching funds for a total budget of $220,000. Horizon Water and Environment was hired as a consultant for the project. The Phoenix Lake Preservation and Restoration Plan has developed conceptual plans for lake restoration (including a lake dredging plan), water quality improvements, wetland habitat improvements, public access, and fire management. Ultimately, the Plan will be used to prepare an engineered project design, environmental review, secure community support and construction grant funding.

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