Collaborating with DOUBLE-VISION, Submerged is a video response to Modesto’s water uses and issues. This video poetically explores some key benefits the Tuolumne River brings to Modesto, as well as its Superfund site.
The Tuolumne River begins at 13,000 feet in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and provides 27 miles of world-class whitewater for rafters and kayakers. 150 miles downstream, thousands of Chinook salmon return each fall to spawn on the lower river. In addition to providing excellent wildlife habitat and recreational facilities, the Tuolumne River has been extensively developed to deliver water and electricity to San Francisco and other Bay Area cities, and provides water for farmers in the Central Valley.
The Tuolumne River Regional Park is a 500 acre urban park currently under development along the seven mile stretch of the Tuolumne River that falls between the cities of Ceres and Modesto, California. The park provides a setting to learn about the Tuolumne River, natural river processes, native plants, and local wildlife habitat. Group gathering areas, trails, interpretive signage, and a restored landscape provide unparalleled opportunity for outdoor study and recreation. The park provides a mixture of active and passive recreational zones, including play fields and picnic areas, outdoor performing arts, kayaking, nature interpretation, and bicycling.
The video also explores some of the water issues faced by Modesto, specifically addressing the Superfund site which contaminated Modesto city water well 11. The Modesto Ground Water Contamination site is related to a dry cleaning facility that leaked tetrachloroethylene (PCE) into the soil and ground water. The dry cleaning facility discharged wastewater containing PCE into the sewer system for approximately 50 years, and an unknown quantity of PCE was released into the subsurface. The dry cleaner was located approximately 1,200 feet from a municipal well, which was contaminated with PCE from the dry cleaner. The City of Modesto began monitoring ground water in 1984 and Municipal Well 11 was found to be contaminated with PCE above the allowable drinking water standard. Well 11 was temporarily taken out of service by the City and a wellhead granular activated carbon treatment system was installed in June 1991 to remove the PCE contamination from the ground water. Well 11 was then shut down again in October 1995 because it was found to be contaminated with low levels of naturally occurring uranium that were slightly above the allowable drinking water level. It is unknown if Well 11 will ever be used again as a source of drinking water because of the naturally occurring uranium.