GCSD in $2M bind if Hetchy too low

By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

Groveland Community Services District needs to find nearly $2 million - the equivalent of its annual water budget - to install a filtration system at one of its water treatment plants, as a result of the drought.

The district learned late last month that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission plans to draw water out of Cherry Lake if the current drought continues into next year. The SFPUC is preparing to open bids from contractors on an estimated $10 million project to repair the Lower Cherry Aqueduct that was damaged in last year's Rim Fire.

The aqueduct would be used to draw water, if needed, from the nearby Cherry Lake to supplement the SFPUC's normal supply out of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

The problem is that GCSD doesn't have equipment at either of its two water treatment plants to filter sediment from the water in Cherry Lake. Water out of Cherry Lake doesn't meet federal water-quality standards, so the district would be required to run the water through a filtration system before delivering it to customers, according to the SFPUC officials.

Water from Hetch Hetchy, located within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park, doesn't need to be filtered during the treatment process because of its natural clarity.

"We are applying (for grants) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Department of Public Health … anybody and everybody to secure the financing we need to put in a filtration system," said GCSD General Manager Jon Sterling. "We are merely a customer and did not decide to find a new source of water. Our actions are in response to the SFPUC."

GCSD, which serves 3,300 Groveland-area residents, has purchased raw Hetch Hetchy water from the SFPUC since 1976. The district disinfects it with ultraviolet light, which kills any microorganisms.

For the complete story, see the April 22, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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