Go slow on dam, people tell TUD

February 28, 2003 12:00 am

By GENEVIEVE

BOOKWALTER

Tuolumne Utilities District is moving too fast on the Lyons Dam issue, and should have put last week's announcement to try to partner with Stockton East Water District and expand the structure on the agenda, residents told the board.

People voiced their concerns about subjects raised at last week's meeting as the board met on Tuesday.

At the Feb. 11 meeting, Board President Louise Giersch called for a committee to discuss a possible partnership with the board of the Stockton East Water District for funding and building a new Lyons Dam.

The new dam could hold back more than eight times as much water — about 50,000 acre feet — as Lyons Dam does now. The water would be for Tuolumne County and could be shared with customers of Stockton East.

Audience members at Tuesday's meeting said they would have attended the Feb. 11 session had they known the dam would be discussed.

"It seems, in public at least, a gun has been jumped," said Carrie King, staff scientist for Twain Harte's Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center. She wanted to know if the board had researched dam alternatives, water rights and environmental problems flooding could pose.

"It looks like this dam is moving forward real fast," she said.

Reba Fuller, chairwoman of the Central Sierra Me-Wuk Cultural and Historic Preservation Committee, agreed.

"We're concerned about cultural resources in the dam area," Fuller said, noting that a team of archeological monitors should supervise the dam construction. The new reservoir would flood a traditional gathering area and the tribe wants to ensure archaeological sites are handled properly.

TUD General Manager Tim McCullough said after the meeting that it is too early for those discussions.

"I have no idea where this is going," McCullough said. "I don't know (Stockton East's) board people, how they feel, what they want."