SONORA, CA: As previously stated, Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) staff is closely monitoring its water supply due to the slow start to the winter season. According to Glen Nunnelley, Associate Engineer, precipitation from this last storm, brings the total accumulation of rainfall to about 8 inches for the Sonora area. The average rainfall accumulation for this time of year is about 17 inches.
“The good news is that this storm improved the current water content in the snow in the watershed for the South Fork Stanislaus River to about 9 inches,” states Nunnelley. Compared to the water content during the 1976-77 drought year, one of the driest year’s on record in the county, which was at 4.7 inches of water content during this same time period.
Precipitation and snowfall are relied upon to replenish the main water supply for the county with water storage at Pinecrest and Lyons Reservoirs. PG & E owns and operates Pinecrest and Lyons Reservoirs, and the 15.7 mile Main Canal. In an agreement with PG & E, TUD receives its water supply from Lyons Reservoir through the Main Canal.
Although reservoir storage levels from Strawberry and Lyons Reservoirs are normal for this time of the year and will provide water supply for several months, the District is still hoping to receive more precipitation and snow to improve its water supply. Tuolumne County historically receives significant precipitation and snow in the months of February and March.
According to District Engineer, Tom Scesa, “TUD has been working carefully with PG & E since December, closely monitoring flows in the South Fork Stanislaus River and the District’s water storage levels. The District has reduced water flows in our ditch system to a minimum in an effort to hold as much water in storage as possible, while still being able to maintain quality water to our water treatment plants.”
“We would like to thank PG & E for being very responsive to our water concerns,” states Pete Kampa, “The District is fortunate to have such a good working relationship with PG & E and that they understand the importance of maintaining as much water storage for our use as possible. We will continue to keep in close contact with PG & E and are monitoring our water supply levels every day, and are very pleased that they have done everything possible to reduce water usage out of Pinecrest and Lyons Reservoirs, TUD’s primary water source,” continues Kampa. “We also know it is important to keep the public well informed of the water supply so if and when water conservation measures are needed of our customers, they know that it could become a serious situation.”
The Tuolumne Utilities District currently serves over 44,000 Tuolumne County residents. The District currently owns and operates 15 water treatment plants, 71 treated water storage tanks, two wastewater treatment plants, approximately 57 miles of open ditches and 330 miles of treated water pipeline.