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Tracy Lake Project planning completed

Rising costs have some board directors worried

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Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 5:55 am, Tue Jun 26, 2012.

Plans are moving along for the Tracy Lake Project, staff of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District said Monday.

The project will pull water from the Mokelumne River to an area off of Forest Lake Road in Acampo, owned by Dan Leonard, to create a year-round lake. Local growers will use that water on crops while some trickles down to restore groundwater levels in the area.

Walter Sadler, a part-time project manager for the district, said the preliminary planning for the Tracy Lake Project is complete.

On Monday, a crew went out to the site to confirm the position of the pipeline carrying water from the Mokelumne River to the lake. The project will use a fish screen and a 30-inch pipeline that can handle up to 40 cubic feet per second. The original single-speed pump will move 25 cfs, to give room to expand later.

Director Mark Beck opposed the idea, saying the diversion needed a stronger, variable-speed pump from the start.

“That’s going to create management issues for flow, I guarantee it,” he said, explaining that pulling from the river instead of a canal requires constant flow over time, not turning a pump on and off.

The estimated construction costs for the project have risen by about half a million dollars.

Original estimates for the project are about three or four years old, said Sadler, and the plan and prices have changed since then. The total cost is now $1.4 million, but the price could be reduced based on recent changes to the pipeline plan.

President Joe Petersen was wary of the increased cost, but the Franzias were willing to absorb it.

“We’re in this far,” said John Franzia, owner of a portion of the land the water will irrigate. “I’m not going to blow the whole project at this point.”

Beck opposed the price increase as well, saying a lack of accountability contributed to the change.

“You don’t miss it by half, or double it!” he shouted, smacking the table with his hand.

Director Marden Wilbur calmed the meeting, noting the difficulty of nailing down a price on a construction project.

“Seems like you’re not going to know until you have that final plan in your hands,” said Wilbur.

The early planning was prepared before the district meets with the State Water Resources Control Board to clarify two existing petitions to change their water right. Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney with Herum-Crabtree, plans to represent the district at a meeting in late July.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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