It's been 26 years in the making and now it looks as though Ceres and neighbors are on the cusp of an agreement to pave the way for a surface water delivery system through Turlock Irrigation District (TID).
Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra announced at Monday's meeting that TID and a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) of Ceres, Modesto and Turlock are close to sealing a deal that would supply treated Tuolumne River water to residents.
"It means that we could be looking at potentially 30,000 acre-feet of water that would come into our region," said Vierra, who also serves as chairman of the JPA. "It would provide our citizens with a portion of that, which would be a long-term term water solution that would augment our groundwater supply. I'm pleased."
The TID board of directors approved the project yesterday. Passage would send each city to ask its residents to help pay for the project.
Given the state of the water crisis in California, Vierra said the plant is "very, very important."
The Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA), which embodies the cities of Ceres, Turlock and Modesto, was formed in 2011 with the aim of negotiating a surface water agreement with TID to reduce regional reliance on groundwater. The ultimate goal is to establish a surface water treatment plant that would treat Tuolumne River water in order to make a reliable source of drinking water available to the three partner cities.
In June, the SRWA voted to approve a water sales agreement that included a commitment by the city of Turlock to provide TID with 2,000 acre feet of recycled water per year.
"This shows our intent to honor our commitment to the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority and to TID," said Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth.
On Tuesday, TID voted on the terms and conditions of a water sales agreement and if both agencies agree to the terms, the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority would be guaranteed up to 30,000 acre-feet of drinking water from the facility annually with Turlock receiving roughly half of that amount.
The agreement "would serve as the first of several steps in a process that could result in the cities of Turlock, Ceres and Modesto having access to Tuolumne River for domestic use" said a TID report.
TID also noted that benefits extend beyond its farmers as the in-lieu groundwater recharge to the Turlock Groundwater Subbasin is good for both agricultural and urban water users. Other positive elements include "increased water quantity and water quality reliability for SRWA cities and increased environmental benefit to the Tuolumne River fishery and aquatic resources."