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TUD to seek funding for new Lyons Dam

LYONS RESERVOIR, the main source of water for Tuolumne County, might be expanded. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).
LYONS RESERVOIR, the main source of water for Tuolumne County, might be expanded. (Amy Alonzo/Copyright 2002, The Union Democrat).



The search for funding for a new dam that would expand Lyons Reservoir is under way.

At the end of a nearly five-hour meeting Tuesday, Tuolumne Utilities District board members directed district staff members to seek funding sources, even though the dam's size and cost have yet to be determined.

What district officials do know, however, is that Tuolumne County water users cannot shoulder the financial burden by themselves.

Given that, TUD General Manager Tim McCullough recommended in the session that the district look for another individual or entity to team up with and share project costs.

Should TUD finds that partner, McCullough said, the two sides will then determine how big the dam needs to be and how much it will cost.

TUD officials said the dam is needed to accommodate future growth in Tuolumne County.

Proposals presented in August by consulting firm Christensen Associates Inc. of San Rafael showed alternatives that would increase the reservoir's current 5,800-acre-foot capacity to 25,000 or 50,000 acre feet.

One acre foot will supply two households with water for one year.

Christensen Associates also priced construction costs at $48.2 million or $62 million, depending on which dam is built, including some environmental mitigation costs. However, the estimate might not cover the whole cost of the environmental impact statement, and does not include legal and other charges.

Considering those are 2001 estimates, inflation could drive the price even higher.

But McCullough refused to offer a cost estimate in Tuesday's meeting, saying that until a partner and its needs are identified, there is no way to know what the price tag would be.

Dan Gallery, attorney for TUD, said the entire process — from finding a partner to building the dam — will take at least 15 years.

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