Water use debate resumes

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. hydrologists are predicting that both Lyons and Pinecrest reservoirs will fill this spring, leading one Tuolumne Utilities District board member at Tuesday's meeting to question the need for a current restriction that bans customers from watering their lawns.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Jan. 17, as the historically dry conditions at that time signaled that 2014 would be the third straight drought year in California.

Late season storms have improved conditions in the Central Sierra somewhat, but they are still far below average for this time of year.

The TUD board unanimously voted to implement Phase III water-use restrictions on Jan. 28, along with setting a goal to cut districtwide water usage by 50 percent. The county Board of Supervisors declared a local state of emergency the following week, which the board renewed April 1.

Under the restrictions, customers are prohibited from watering their lawns and must cut back at least 25 percent or face penalties and fines.

Board member Michael Sarno called on the rest of the board to consider lowering the reduction goal and allowing customers to water their lawns on certain days, now that conditions appear to be in better shape than predicted back in January.

For the complete story, see the April 9, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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