On or about Saturday March 6, 2021, two or more individuals committed felony vandalism to Utica Water and Power Authority’s (Utica) public water supply system east of Forest Meadows near the end of Pennsylvania Gulch Road. Utica’s water system is the sole water supply for more than 10,000 residential, commercial and agricultural customers between Murphys and Angels Camp. The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office and Utica are seeking help from the public to identify the individuals who vandalized the system and report any additional suspicious activity observed near Utica’s flume and ditch system. Video surveillance and photos from the area where the crime occurred are being reviewed by Utica and the Sheriff’s Office, along with tire tracks, footprints and other evidence left at the scene.
The portion of Utica’s system where the crime occurred is not open to the public, and the perpetrators bypassed a locked gate with “No Trespassing” signs to access the area, which is a wooden flume on the steep canyon wall of the North Fork Stanislaus River. They vandalized part of the flume itself and a large pile of lumber staged on a wooden platform for flume repairs – some pieces as large as 6x8x20 feet. The vandals threw some of the lumber off the flume down the steep, rocky canyon wall where it was damaged or destroyed. The rest of the lumber was dumped into the flume itself, where it floated downstream and created several “log jams”. Fortunately, these blockages did not cause the water to overtop the canal banks. The preliminary cost estimate of the materials that were damaged or destroyed and staff time to remove the lumber from the canal is several thousand dollars.
Since this crime occurred, foot patrols have been increased on the system and additional security cameras have been installed that provide real-time pictures and videos of trespassers. This will allow Utica to immediately notify the Sheriff’s Office additional trespassing/vandalism occurs.
It is unfortunate that anyone would commit felony acts of vandalism to a public water supply system serving such a large portion of the community, and Utica is eager to bring these criminals to justice. If anyone has information regarding the identity of these vandals, please call the Sheriff’s Office at (209) 754-6500, the anonymous tip line at (209) 754-6030 or contact Utica at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 736-9419. We appreciate any help the community can provide. For more information about Utica, go to www.uticawater.com.