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February 10, 2014

Turlock council will discuss water needs, rates

The Turlock City Council will discuss a long-term water plan at its regular meeting Tuesday night. Next week, the city will hold a workshop for residents on the major water rate increases that could pay for many improvements.

The city will hold a pair of meetings on water – tonight on a long-range plan for the resource, next week on a proposal to nearly double customer rates over five years.

The City Council tonight will consider adopting the East Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, which it has been drafting with Modesto, Ceres and Hughson. The plan lays out possible projects involving fresh water, storm drainage and wastewater.

Turlock is especially interested in a proposed treatment plant for Tuolumne River water that would reduce its reliance on wells. It also is in a partnership working to sell highly treated wastewater for use on cropland.

City officials said adopting the plan could help Turlock get state and federal grants for projects.

On Feb. 19, the city will hold a workshop for residents on water rate increases, which the council will consider March 25. The average residential bill, now $24.05 a month, would rise in six steps to $47.10 by 2019. Business rates also would go up.

Under state law, the proposal could not go through if a majority of the affected customers file protests at or before the March 25 meeting.

The extra income would go to operating costs and capital improvements for the city’s groundwater system. The river treatment plant could require the council to raise rates again in the future.

Also tonight, the council will consider a proposal to bar members from voting on matters that could financially benefit donors of at least $2,000 to their campaigns over the previous 48 months. Councilman Steven Nascimento brought the proposal forward.

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