March 6, 2020 - By :

TUD and PG&E Water System Acquisition TUO CO. OUR WATER, OUR FUTURE

TUD Board of Directors: Barbara Balen Jeff Kerns Ronald D. Kopf Ron W. Ringen Bob Rucker  
  • The Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD) is exploring a once-in-a-century opportunity to secure reliable water supplies to benefit Tuolumne County residents for generations to come.
  • TUD owns no water rights presently. Most water rights to the South Fork of the Stanislaus River were filed in the 1850’s during the Gold Rush. Tuolumne County needs to hold on to its water legacy by securing its own water rights. TUD has had to rely on a contract with PG&E for its water supply.
  • TUD has entered into exclusive negotiations with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to acquire both pre- and post-1914 water rights, which includes some of the oldest and most senior rights on the South Fork Stanislaus, as well as Pinecrest Lake and Lyons Reservoir, the Tuolumne Main Canal, and Phoenix hydropower facilities.
  • Tuolumne County has an Annual Total Reservoir Water Storage Capacity of over 5.5 millionacre feet, with practically all this water diverted to other water agencies throughout the State.
  • Tuolumne County has struggled with obtaining its own water supply for years. This is an opportunity to acquire and exercise local control over the water system, operate it more effectively and efficiently, and provide critically important water supplies now and in the future to Tuolumne County residents.
  • Tuolumne County needs its own water rights and a reliable water source now more than ever. Owning its own water rights allows Tuolumne County to defend itself, and its rights, when its water supplies are threatened. Owning these rights will also give Tuolumne County the ability to regulate its water supply and keep water reserves available in case of wildfire. Tuolumne Pinecrest Lake County was recently listed as the number one county at risk of wildfire by the California Department of Insurance’s, Availability and Affordability of Coverage for Wildfire Loss in Residential Property Insurance in the Wildland-Urban Interface. The protection of TUD’s watershed and water supply infrastructure are critically important due to the extreme risk of wildfire in our community.
  • Pinecrest and Lyons Reservoirs serve as our primary water storage reservoirs. Because of their small size (23,000 acre-feet combined), TUD does not enjoy significant carryover storage, and therefore, must rely on each year’s snowpack augmented by a small amount of reservoir storage to sustain us through the hot, dry summer months. Owning these systems gives Tuolumne County the ability to regulate them to best suit County water, health, safety, and recreation needs.
  • Acquiring the water system and water rights will come with a cost. However, if we do nothing, we risk water supply uncertainty, ownership by outside parties, rate increases, and overall loss of control.
  • TUD is here to serve the community and we want the community to play an active role in this process. We welcome your input as we decide the best path forward – together.
  • To inform community members and other stakeholders about this process and its impacts, TUD has launched a public education campaign, “TuoCo: Our Water, Our Future.” The first of several planned Town Hall meetings is scheduled for Thursday, April 9th, from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Sonora Opera Hall, at 250 South Washington Street in Sonora
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