Turlock council to examine water issues

City leaders on Tuesday night will examine water issues, including the wells that provide the supply now and the prospects for river and recycled sources.

The workshop is one of several that new Mayor Gary Soiseth plans to hold through April as part of his campaign pledge to do a 100-day review of city services. No decisions will be made.

Turlock is one of many San Joaquin Valley cities that rely solely on groundwater for homes, stores, industrial plants and other uses. A severe drought could stress the system, and wells could go offline at any time if they exceed health standards, notably naturally occurring arsenic.

The city is exploring a project that would treat Tuolumne River water to supplement the wells. The plant, fed by water from the Turlock Irrigation District, also might serve Ceres and south Modesto. The rest of the latter city already gets treated water from the Modesto Irrigation District.

Turlock officials have said the project likely would require more water rate increases. The council last year approved a near-doubling of the charges by 2019 just to operate and upgrade the groundwater-fed system.

The recycled water would come from Turlock’s sewage treatment plant, which has been upgraded to make the outflow fit for irrigation. The city has been working to sell it to the Del Puerto Water District, which serves West Side farmers who have had their federal supply sharply reduced. TID is interested in this water, too, to make up for some of the supply it might provide to the river treatment plant.

The agenda materials for the workshop note financial and other challenges on the water front, but there’s a bright spot: Turlock’s per-capita use dropped from an average of about 380 gallons per day in 2000 to about 260 gallons last year. Officials have noted a few reasons: water meters, conservation education and repairs of leaks in the system.

Tuesday’s workshop also will deal with solid waste, which Turlock has started to send to a Merced County landfill that charges less than Stanislaus County’s dump and waste-to-energy plant. Stanislaus and the city could still reach an agreement that reverses that decision.

Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at jholland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2385.


What: Turlock City Council workshop on water issues

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: City Hall, 156 S. Broadway

Agenda: www.turlock.ca.us/government