Hatch seeing lots of pipeline construction activity
Much pipeline construction is underway along Hatch Road east of Ceres which, by 2023, will deliver treated water from the Tuolumne River to customers in the city.
The work resulted in minimal disruption to motorists traveling between Ceres and Hughson.
Through the regional surface water supply project, the pipeline will transport water from the Tuolumne River treated in a new state-of-the-art water treatment plant to households in Ceres and Turlock.
Work is already underway to install a 42 inch pipeline from Fox Grove Fishing Access on Geer Road to Turlock and now west to Ceres between Hatch Road and the Ceres Main Canal in Turlock Irrigation District . The pipe is buried between the canal and Hatch Road, then paved.
The completed Ceres pipeline will feed a 2 million gallon reservoir that is under construction on the east side of Ceres River Bluff Regional Park on Hatch Road. The reservoir will be located between the soccer field in the northeast quadrant of the park and its adjacent parking lot. Part of the reservoir will be buried.
Due to its proximity to the main TID Ceres canal, work on the Ceres pipeline had to wait until the canal was emptied for the winter.
The surface water system is considered essential for Ceres and Turlock to have a guaranteed source of clean, quality water. As water quality regulations tighten, cities have found that reliance on groundwater alone to meet demand requires expensive wellhead treatment. In times of drought, groundwater levels tend to drop, resulting in a higher incidence of contaminants.
The towns of Ceres and Turlock formed a joint power authority named Stanislaus Regional Water Authority (SRWA) to build the plant and pipeline delivery system. The JPA will purchase raw water from the Turlock Irrigation District, which has rights to some of the water that flows into the Tuolumne River.
Ceres will eventually receive up to 15 million gallons of water per day while Turlock will take 30 million gallons. Two additional phases will increase the plant’s capacity to produce 45 million gallons per day for the two cities.
The two cities enacted a series of increases in city water tariffs to pay the plant for $ 220 million. SRWA chief executive Bob Granberg said the JPA borrowed $ 184.9 million for the plant after receiving $ 35 million in grants. Borrowing from the state revolving fund at an interest rate of 1.2% will save the project $ 100 million that it would have incurred through municipal bond financing, he noted.
Ceres public works director Jeremy Damas said the city will always use groundwater in conjunction with river water, especially in summer, noting that maximum water consumption in summer reaches 11 million gallons. per day while the plant will supply only 5 million gallons. He estimated that during the winter months, about 75 percent of the water coming out of the tap will be treated river water.
Granberg said drawing less water from underground aquifers will allow it to be recharged and allow the city to close and repair wells when needed, as there will be another water source available. Having two water sources will make Ceres more drought tolerant, he noted, especially when TID is forced to reduce discharge from the dam as mandated by the state during times of drought.
Recently, the National Water Board ordered reservoirs to reduce water retention at various dams, which, if extended, could affect farmers’ water if another year of drought occurs. Regardless of the degree of water reduction for the farmers, the same water reduction can be taken by the SRWA plant. Currently, TID has a 25 percent reduction.
The surface water plant began in discussions about 30 years ago.
SRWA maintains a website that tracks the progress of the project at www.stanrwa.com. Progress is also followed on the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority Facebook page.
Hiring to operate the plant will take place from mid-2022 to early 2023.