TUD talks about legal settlement

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Details of a settlement between the Tuolumne Utilities District and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance will likely be discussed and possibly approved Tuesday at a meeting of the TUD Board of DIrectors.

According to the agenda and related documents, the district and environmental organization have been in settlement discussions over a federal lawsuit since the case was filed in June. The lawsuit accuses the district of illegal sewage spills and high pollutant levels in the district's "recycled" water. It also alleges TUD violated the federal Clean Water Act with 130 spills or leaks in the sewage system dating back to October 2007.

Under the proposed settlement, TUD would pay $340,000 in attorney fees, mitigation payments and monitoring costs and would agree to a 10-part monitoring and compliance program that would improve and report on the district sewer system.

Though the settlement talks have been conducted in closed session, district leaders have claimed that, while TUD believes it is not breaking any regulations, the lawsuit would be hard to fight because the organization has sued and reached similar agreements over the same issue with entities like El Dorado County, Sacramento, Stockton and other cities and counties.

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance focuses its efforts on protecting the state's fisheries. Before suing the district, the Sportfishing Protection Alliance sent letters to state and federal agencies, the lawsuit states. The legal paperwork says that neither the EPA nor the state of California has commenced or is diligently prosecuting an action.

Also on Tuesday's agenda:

• A discussion on New Melones Reservoir and its relations to local water supply.

• An updated agreement for a land exchange between the district and Gene Elkins near the district's Tuolumne water treatment plant.

• Discussion of ongoing efforts to acquire property near Twain Harte, currently owned by PG&E, to build a reservoir for district water supply.

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne Utilities District Board of Directors, 2 p.m. Tuesday, 18885 Nugget Blvd., Sonora.

The Union Democrat
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