By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
TID can't finance regional surface water plant
Placeholder Image
The Turlock Irrigation District is no longer able to finance the regional surface water water of which Ceres, and Hughson are interested. That means the agencies may have to form their own joint powers authority (JPA) to make the project a reality.

Initially TID was going to finance, build and own the facility. New regulations restrict TID's ability to finance the project. TID has promised to oversee the construction of the plant near Fox Grove Fishing Access northeast of Hughson. They will also own raw water pumping station since TID owns water rights in the Tuolumne River.

The agencies are also considering a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The city of Ceres has long expressed interest in the plant as a way to meet future water needs. The city has been experiencing considerable cost and problems meeting water demands solely through groundwater. However, none of the agencies involved have yet to commit to legally the project.

"We need to figure out what form of governance there will be," said Public Works Director Phil Scott. "It's going to take along time to work out the details."

The city's participation in the surface water delivery system will dramatically drive up costs. It's been estimated that rates will probably triple when the project goes on line in 2012.

City officials say the system is expensive but necessary to provide a dependable source of water. Tightening state and federal water regulations are growing to the point that the city cannot solely rely on groundwater in the future.

Officials have been talking about a regional water plant since the 1980s when it became apparent that water aquifers under the Valley floor are both in limited supply and contain problems with contaminants.

According to Jeff Barton, TID's assistant general manager of civil engineering and water operations, the regional surface water plant would be for Ceres, Hughson, Turlock and South Modesto.

The plant will be constructed near the Fox Grove Fishing Access on the Tuolumne River northeast of Hughson. The project's dimensions have been changed a number of times, said Community Development Director Ken Craig. The most recent configuration calls for a plant with a capacity of drawing and treating 29 million gallons of water per day with Ceres taking up to 6 million gallons per day. The plant would cost an estimated $183.7 million with Ceres' share costing $46 million.

The project is expected to be in construction by Dec. 1, 2009.