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Tuolumne River is at Risk

posted August 19, 2008
by Mark Singleton

article photo 1

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) is proposing to divert up to 25 million more gallons of water per day from the Tuolumne, enough to fill 1,000 swimming pools, every day. The proposal to divert more water is embedded in the SFPUC’s Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) a $4.3 billion plan to upgrade the Hetch Hetchy water system, which provides water for 2.4 million people in San Francisco, and surrounding communities in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda Counties.

Taking more water from the Tuolumne would harm important habitat for fish and wildlife, including Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, degrade world-class recreation opportunities, and worsen San Francisco Bay-Delta water quality.

In commenting on the WSIP, the California Department of Fish and Game wrote:

“…we believe that if implemented as proposed, the WSIP would only exacerbate the current decline of anadromous fisheries in the Tuolumne River. Consequently, we respectfully request that the SFPUC use alternative water sources other than the Tuolumne river system or implement water conservation measures to meet drought year demands and 2030 purchase requests…”

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors agreed that no more water should be diverted from the River, and passed a resolution concluding:

”Resolved, that the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors unequivocally opposes the SFPUC’s proposed diversion of an additional 25 million gallons of water a day from the Tuolumne River…The County will seek and exercise the necessary legal remedies to see that no further water diversions occur from the Tuolumne River.”

Not only are new diversions harmful, they are unnecessary. The Tuolumne River Trust has collaborated with water efficiency experts to identify a number of flaws in San Francisco ’s water demand studies which led to inflated demands and underestimated conservation savings.


Take Action:

The Final Program Environmental Impact Report for the SFPUC's Water System Improvement Program is now expected to be released in late September. In addition to examining the "Aggressive Conservation/ Water Recycling and Local Groundwater Alternative" it will study another alternative that would cap diversions at current levels until 2018.

The "Preferred Alternative" still calls for diverting 25 million more gallons of water per day from the Tuolumne. You can help now by circulating the following petition at: www.tuolumne.org/content/fmd/files/2008%20Tuolumne%20Petition.pdf


For additional information visit the Tuolumne River Trust website.

American Whitewater
Mark Singleton
PO Box 1540
Cullowhee, NC 28723
Phone: 828-586-1930
Fax: 828-586-2840