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Turlock & Ceres Celebrate Milestone: Treated River Water Flows After 30-Year Wait

High-Quality Drinking Water

After more than three decades of discussions and delays, Turlock and Ceres residents can finally toast to a momentous achievement - treated water from the Tuolumne River is now flowing into their communities. The recently inaugurated water treatment plant, constructed at a cost nearly $100 million less than anticipated, marks a significant step toward resolving long-standing issues related to declining groundwater levels and stringent water-quality regulations.

A Sustainable Solution for Turlock & Ceres

A Long-Awaited Solution

The ribbon-cutting ceremony held on November 14, 2023, was a moment of triumph for both cities, signaling the end of a prolonged journey towards a sustainable water solution. According to Ceres Mayor Javier Lopez, "High-quality drinking water is now flowing to our communities that are so much in need of a long-term solution."

Reduced Reliance on Wells

The newly operational water treatment plant, strategically located next to the Tuolumne River, allows Turlock and Ceres to significantly reduce their reliance on wells. This shift is expected to alleviate the stress on groundwater levels, benefitting both agricultural and urban users.

Operational Details of the Tuolumne River Treatment Plant

Partnership with Turlock Irrigation District

The Turlock Irrigation District is playing a vital role in this initiative by selling part of its river supply to the treatment plant. Advocates highlight that this collaboration will lead to less pumping by the cities, resulting in a more abundant aquifer for agricultural and urban use.

Initial Water Allocation

Ceres anticipates meeting approximately one-third of its water demand from the plant, with the first water running through a pipeline along Hatch Road. Turlock, on the other hand, plans to source about half of its water from the Tuolumne, with deliveries beginning through a pipeline along Berkeley Avenue.

Taste & Capacity

Plant General Manager Christopher Fisher notes that customers should expect a somewhat "softer" taste due to the blending of river and well sources. The plant, with an initial daily production capacity of 15 million gallons, has the potential to increase to 45 million gallons with future funding.

Funding & Environmental Impact

Low-Interest State Loan

The majority of the funding, amounting to $185 million, comes from a low-interest loan provided by the State Water Resources Control Board. This 1.2% interest loan, repayable over 30 years, is a crucial financial support mechanism. The remaining funding is sourced from state and federal grants.

Positive Environmental Impact

The project not only addresses the water needs of Turlock and Ceres but also benefits the environment. By utilizing water withdrawn 26 miles downstream, the treatment plant provides additional habitat for salmon and other species, enhancing the overall ecological balance.

A Once-in-a-Generation Project

The Tuolumne River Treatment Plant is hailed as a once-in-a-generation project that will benefit the community for decades. The collaboration between Turlock, Ceres, and the Turlock Irrigation District showcases the potential for sustainable water solutions that balance the needs of urban and agricultural users.

As Turlock and Ceres embark on this new chapter, the treated river water flowing through their taps represents not just a vital resource but a symbol of resilience and collaboration that will shape the region's water landscape for generations to come.


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