Amador Water Agency



Water Connections for New Building Halted Until Treatment Plant Capacity Is Improved

For immediate release: 1/16/24

Contact: Larry McKenney, AWA General Manager, 209-223-3018


City and county officials toured the Ione Water Treatment Plant in November, 2023, to discuss deficiencies in the plant’s ability to keep up with summer demand for water in the city of Ione.

(Sutter Creek)  At a public hearing on Friday, Amador Water Agency Directors declared a water shortage emergency in the Ione Water Treatment Plant service area, effective immediately. Demands from existing water customers now exceed the maximum amount of water that the Ione Water Treatment plant can reliably produce during peak summer use and there is no affordable, short-term solution for creating additional capacity at the water treatment plant.

The water shortage emergency declaration is a temporary measure, designed to allow the Water Agency to protect current customers’ reliable water service by halting approvals of new commitments for water service in the Ione water system until the treatment capacity can be increased. 

The emergency declaration resolution includes provisions for case-by-case exceptions to the ban on new connections, for example, when additional capacity is made available due to conservation, or incremental improvements to the treatment plant, or for some construction projects that are already in the building process.

The resolution also requires staff to work toward increasing plant capacity as soon as reasonably possible and on efficiency improvements at Mule Creek State Prison, the CALFIRE Training Center, and the City of Ione, and to seek funding for those improvements. AWA staff is currently preparing to go out for $19,000,000 in bond funding to pay for three short-term treatment plant projects prioritized in the Agency’s Five-Year Water Master Plan.

Several alternatives for meeting Amador County’s long-term water treatment needs at both the Ione and Tanner Water Treatment plants have been identified by engineering studies, but every alternative will require at least several years for design and construction and the ultimate costs of necessary improvements are estimated to be over $200,000,000.

AWA General Manager Larry McKenney opened Friday’s meeting by saying, “This is not a water source shortage – Ione’s water comes from the Mokelumne River. It’s not a water quality deficiency. It’s not related to concerns about Ione’s groundwater. The problem is that the Ione Water Treatment Plant doesn’t treat water fast enough to meet the community’s demand for water in the summer.”

The potential for the current treatment shortage was identified as far back as 2007, but economic downturns and building slowdowns encouraged previous AWA Boards to shelve plans for constructing a regional treatment plant in favor of smaller projects to increase capacity and reliability. 

Results of an in-depth engineering study on treatment plant capacity in 2022 confirmed the Ione plant’s insufficient capacity and since then AWA Directors and McKenney have been in discussions with Ione city leaders and County supervisors about the impending shortage of both water capacity and funds to address the problem.

The restrictions in the Water Shortage Emergency resolution are effective immediately and will remain in place until AWA Board of Directors finds that the Ione Water Treatment Plant can reliably meet the needs of both existing customers and new requests for service.

The Ione service area remains under a Stage 2 Water Shortage Alert with mandatory conservation measures due to treatment plant limitations. For a list of required conservation measures, please visit (see Conservation, under the Operations menu). 

The 2020 Water Master Plan and 2022 Treatment Plant Capacity studies are available online (see Information, Policies & Reports, under the General Info menu). If you have questions about the Water Shortage Emergency Declaration or any other issue, please call AWA Customer Service during regular business hours at 209-223-3018.