Reeling from an historic drought, Tuolumne Utilities District is taking steps to create the county's first water-storage reservoir in decades.
The TUD board voted 5-0 Tuesday to move forward with plans to acquire 25 acres of land in Twain Harte from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. where the district hopes to build the 350 acre-foot lake to ensure supplies for up to 40,000 county residents.
The vote specifically allowed the district to get bids from contractors to conduct environmental-impact studies on the land near the Sierra Pines golf course to make sure the lake could be built without seriously impacting protected plants or wildlife.
The district hopes to acquire the PG&E land through a process known as "eminent domain," which allows the district to take the land for public benefit in exchange for the land's market value. The land is a small sliver of 140,000 acres the company surrendered as part of a 2001 bankruptcy settlement.
"It feels like a good project this year because it's a supply project, and any other year it would be equally good as an emergency storage project," said District General Manager Tom Scesa, adding the district hopes to seal a deal by spring so it can begin seeking grant money from the state to build the reservoir.
The project has been on the district's radar since 2006, but its need is seen as more pressing in light of the state's three-year drought.
For the complete story, see the Aug. 27, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.