Water tops board agenda

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, 9 a.m. Tuesday, Board of Supervisors Chambers, fourth floor, County Administration Center, 2 S. Green St., Sonora.

Securing future water supplies in Tuolumne County will likely be an expensive, long-term effort with a lot of difficult choices, a special water attorney is expected to tell county leaders on Tuesday.

According to the agenda for the regular meeting of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, a representative with Sacramento-based law firm Somach, Simmons and Dunn will suggest a course of action for the county to improve its water situation.

The board in December hired the environmental law firm to consult with the county on questions related to local water rights, water-related lawsuits, groundwater and similar issues.

Water is among the county's biggest issues in the midst of a multi-year drought and questions about long-term supply.

According to county documents, the presentation will cover the county's best options for improving the water situation, as well as some rough cost estimates. According to meeting documents, those options include:

• Hiring a special water resources consultant.

• Allowing the firm to review state permits for water projects filed by the county in the 1990s, which would cost around $1,500.

• Using the firm to further engage in the federal relicensing process for the Don Pedro Dam on behalf of the county, which would cost approximately $10,000. The licensing process covers all aspects of the lake and dam, and county supervisors have shown interest recently in making sure local interests are represented.

• Hire a hydrogeologist to consult and provide an official opinion on groundwater options, which would likely carry a price tag of $20,000.

• Directly pursue water rights or a water storage project like a reservoir, which would cost millions of dollars.

For the complete story, see the March 31, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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