Despite having affected many operations along the Tuolumne River, the rim fire currently burning in Tuolumne County and Yosemite will not affect the Turlock Irrigation District, officials told the Board of Directors on Tuesday.
The rim fire, which started burning on Aug. 17, has already claimed 179,481 acres of land around Yosemite, marking it as one of the worst fires in California history.
Despite the spread of the blaze, the Don Pedro Reservoir, which is the main source for the district's water and electricity, has gone unscathed, and chances of it spreading are slim, TID officials said.
“I don't see it moving,” said Jason Carkeet, utility analyst for TID. “The area around Don Pedro is actually lower in elevation and, typically, it’s easier for fires to burn uphill.”
According to Carkeet, the reservoir is currently 20 miles away from the western edge of the fire and poses no threat to district operations.
However, not all water sources have gone untouched.
On Monday, the fire caused Governor Jerry Brown to shut down two of three hydroelectric power stations near Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, north of Don Pedro.
The TID is not expecting similar consequences.
Carkeet stated that the mutual concern with both Hetch Hetchy and Don Pedro is the airborne ash falling into the water. Since the two bodies share the Tuolumne River water system, Carkeet is expecting ash to flow downstream. However, he also stated that the ash is organic matter and should not detrimentally affect the water quality of Don Pedro.
“We have different water quality standards than those of San Francisco,” said Carkeet. “I don't see it as an issue.”
What he does see as a possible issue, is the debris and material that is expected to float down the river into Don Pedro after the fire subsides. Carkeet stated that during heavy rainfall, the water could bring along with it logs and material that would have been slowed down by the formerly existing trees. Since the area is now arid, it is unable to soak in any of the rainwater, thus increasing flow.
Currently, all operations for the district are intact.