Water rates to increase as drought persists

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

Water rates for Tuolumne Utilities District customers will go up a little over $1 per month starting July 1, but current drought-related restrictions on water use will remain the same for the time being, the Board of Directors decided Tuesday night.

During a tense meeting that lasted more than three hours, the board voted 4-1 to keep the current water-use reduction goal at 50 percent. The board also voted 3-2 for a previously approved 2.78 percent rate increase to take effect on July 1.

Tuesday's meeting kicked off at 5:30 p.m. with a presentation by TUD engineer Glen Nunnelley on the district's uncertain water supply outlook.

District engineers are trying to predict the "end of spill," which is when snowmelt and rainfall stops filling Pinecrest Reservoir. The current forecast is for on or around June 1. In a normal year, it stops spilling around mid-July.

The earliest date recorded was on June 4, 2012. However, a heavy storm brought a half-inch of rain and extended the date to June 9.

During the drought of 1976 and 1977, which is used as TUD's benchmark for the driest year on record, the dam stopped spilling on July 4. The area received slightly more rain this year, but the snowpack in the watershed that feeds Pinecrest is significantly less than in '76 and '77, Nunnelley explained.

For the complete story, see the May 28, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.

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