Over 75 people attended a two-hour town hall meeting on groundwater concerns at the Oakdale Community Center on May 21.
The forum, sponsored by the Stanislaus Water Coalition, an advocacy group formed recently, and comprised primarily of Oakdale community members who are concerned about groundwater sustainability, brought in various officials to discuss ground water issues in the Oakdale area.
Steve Knell of Oakdale Irrigation District presented information on area wells showing how water levels have fluctuated over the last decades.
Knell pointed out that some levels of some of the wells have fallen an average of 18 inches per year noting “significant drops” the last three years.
Walt Ward, Water Resource Manager for the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Board, displayed a series of charts showing the rising number of permits for well drilling issued in the county over the last year.
Ward told the group that well drillers in the area can’t keep up with demands for new wells.
Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer made a presentation regarding the city’s water needs and its 7,000 customers stating health and safety was the first priority.
Other concerns by the city were preserving and protecting water resources, providing water at reasonable rates, and collaborating and coordinating with other water users to responsibly manage water.
The city serves approximately five square miles using eight municipal wells. The city water is delivered through a distribution system consisting of pump stations, storage tanks, and over 75 miles of water pipelines.
Whitemyer explained that Oakdale groundwater levels have remained relatively stable over the last five years and there’s been no significant decline in water elevations.
The city will need to install additional wells not necessarily for additional water production but for improved system stability and reliability.
“It is the hope of the city that as it grows and more efficient water practices are implemented, its water usage footprint will remain similar to what it is today,” said Whitemyer.
Proposals about the region’s wells and aquifers will be made as part of a set of recommendations being prepared by the county’s recently formed Water Advisory Committee. Those proposals will be discussed by that committee at their next meeting and then presented to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in their meeting in Modesto on June 10.