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You’ll be drinking river water by summer 2023
• Pipeline will deliver clean drinking water to Ceres
treatment plant
Work continues on the Water Treatment Plant at the Flocculation Sedimentation Facility where a contractor last week was installing reinforcing bar and preparing forms for the next wall pour.

A project three decades in the making is nearly complete and is scheduled to deliver a reliable source of drinking water to Ceres residents by the middle of next year. 

The Regional Surface Water Supply Project was formed in 2011 as the cities of Ceres and Turlock, in cooperation with Turlock Irrigation District, to start the process of building a plant to deliver treated Tuolumne River water to residents. Ceres has been working for 30 years to secure this alternate drinking source, as currently all water from the tap comes from underground aquifers.

Studies for the project began in 2016, with design taking place from 2018 to 2021. Last year, construction on the project began. Despite some setbacks, including supply chain issues caused by the pandemic and incremental cost increases, the project was started soon enough that these problems haven’t caused delays. 

The Water Treatment Facility just east of Fox Grove Park is about 40 percent complete. The transmission pipeline to Ceres, which will transport up to 15 million gallons of water per day from Fox Grove to a storage tank at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park, is being installed from the treatment plant along Hatch Road into Ceres.

Both cities have enacted a series of rate increases in city water rates to pay for the $220 million plant. In December 2017, the City of Ceres adopted a new water rate structure beginning in 2018 and increasing every year for five years to help service current groundwater wells and fund the new $220 million surface water treatment project. The rate increases drove the cost up for the average Ceres single-family household water bill from $40.13 per month in 2017 to $88.25 on Jan. 1, 2022.

The Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA) joint powers authority, or JPA, borrowed $184.9 million for the plant constructon after receiving $35 million in grant funds. Borrowing from the State Revolving Fund at 1.2 percent interest rate has saved the project $100 million it would have incurred through municipal bond financing, he noted.

Based on water needs of their populations, Ceres will pay roughly a third of the cost, or $61.6 million, while Turlock is responsible for two-thirds, or $123.3 million.  The annual debt service for Ceres is $2.5 million over 30 years and approximately $1.7 million for operations and maintenance depending on staff, electrical and chemical costs.

Ceres will ultimately receive up to 15 million gallons of water per day while Turlock takes 30 million gallons. Two additional phases will increase the plant’s capacity to produce 45 million gallons per day for the two cities.

In addition to unexpected costs, there are other potential factors that may impact the treatment facility’s ability to deliver water in the future, like drought. Though the Central Valley is currently experiencing a wet winter for the first time in over two years, the California State Water Resources Control Board recently directed curtailments at California dams. TID currently has a 25 percent curtailment, and water cutbacks implemented on farmers also apply to the SRWA plant.

Officials don’t believe drought conditions will affect the project’s ability to deliver water. 

To keep up to date with the facility’s construction, visit