SONORA -- The fascinating and fragile ditch system that supplies water to much of Tuolumne County will be the topic of a Jan. 10 meeting.
The Tuolumne County Historical Society has invited Tom Scesa, chief engineer for the Tuolumne Utilities District, to talk about the future of the system.
The ditches, built by gold miners in the early 1850s, branch off the south fork of the Stanislaus River. They supply agricultural users and water treatment plants serving Sonora, Columbia, Jamestown, Phoenix Lake, Twain Harte, Tuolumne and several other communities.
The 57-mile system, which the TUD owns, is prone to outages because of freezing, wildfire and other causes. At its head is a flume, owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., that carries the main canal through a canyon and is vulnerable to damage.
TUD leaders have considered piping some ditch sections to conserve water and improve reliability. That idea raises concern from people who value the ditches for wildlife habitat, scenery and historical character.
Scesa will present the results of the Ditch System Sustainability Project, a study completed last year. It evaluated options for future operations and improvements, as well as the system's eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.
The meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10 at the Tuolumne County Library, 480 Greenley Road, Sonora.