Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County businesses are already preparing for what is expected to be an historically tight spring and summer in terms of water supply.

Take the Mountain Springs Golf Club in Sonora. The popular course is doing everything it can right now to prepare for a third-straight summer of drought in the Central Sierra, a situation that could impact businesses like golf courses that rely on large quantities of water.

According to Ray Claveran, director of golf at the 18-hole club, operators are relying on storage reservoirs at the property and re-activating some wells that have been used previously.

"Two years ago, we used less than normal water when our supply was significantly reduced," Claveran said. "We have the experience with management of minimal water and expect to keep the course in the best shape as possible with the focus on the greens and tees."

Mandatory water restrictions and conservation measures are already in place throughout much of Tuolumne County. Limited water supply in Lyons and Pinecrest reservoirs and low snowpack have forced the county's largest water supplier, Tuolumne Utilities District, to take several measures to make sure the demand is met through the dry season.

So far, the district has informed customers of a goal to cut water consumption by half and banned most outdoor water use, like lawn watering and car washes. The measures include possible fines for users who don't cut back, according to district representatives. And the district has also cut all raw water allocations in half, affecting many ranchers and agricultural businesses.

TUD recently increased water rates across the board by 2.7 percent, and district leaders are working on what will likely be another emergency increase.

For the full story, see the March 12 edition of The Union Democrat.