It’s something most Turlock residents take for granted — turning on their kitchen faucet and immediately receiving clean water for drinking, cooking and washing. How Turlock can secure a reliable source of safe drinking water for the future will be a key issue for the new Turlock City Council in 2019 and beyond. Below is a status report on Turlock’s water resources.
WHERE WE STAND TODAY
— The City of Turlock gets 100% of its water supply from well water.
— Water quality standards are becoming increasingly more stringent.
— 7 of Turlock’s 23 wells have issues with water quality at present.
· 5 wells are above the maximum allowable level of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP), an industrial solvent that has been found as an impurity in soil fumigants and persists in groundwater.
· 2 wells exceed the maximum allowable level of arsenic.
— Groundwater quality and availability is declining.
— “In the early 1990s you’d go down to about 50 feet and you’d find water. Now you have to go down to 80 feet. For the past 20-plus years our water level has declined about 30 feet,” City of Turlock Municipal Services Director Michael Cooke.
— 2014 California legislation mandates long-term groundwater sustainability in the next 20 years.
— “The good news is our residents and businesses have done a great job of conservation over the past five years, which has bought us more time to work on some of our issues,” said Cooke.
— City of Turlock had a plan to drill 2 to 3 new wells to make up for the ones that have gone down.
— In 2018, Turlock had five test holes drilled. Not one of those locations was successful. They either had not enough production or water quality was bad.
— City staff is now deciding whether to move forward with one of the poor test sites and install water treatment systems at the start — and increasing the cost of the project $2-3 million — or to rehabilitate a couple of the City’s existing wells.
SURFACE WATER PROJECT
— In 2018, the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority, made up of the Cities of Turlock and Ceres — and in partnership with the Turlock Irrigation District — broke ground on the site of the future surface water treatment plant which is slated to deliver treated Tuolumne River water to Turlock homes by 2022.
— Estimated cost of project (October 2017) is $278 million:
- Turlock $172 million;
- Ceres $100 million;
- TID $6 million.
— The City of Turlock received a $30 million grant for the surface water project from the Parks Bond Act of June 2018 that will go towards the $172 million.
— In 2017, the City of Turlock adopted water rate increases to pay for groundwater well treatment and help fund the surface water treatment plant.
— “The Stanislaus Regional Authority Board is interviewing contractors to design and build the project. The goal is to try and drive the cost of the project down through a competitive process…The other thing we’re looking at is what other sources of funding can we get to reduce the impact on the ratepayers,” said Cooke.