TID Delays Irrigation Season Due to Rain, Approves Selling Surplus Water

The Turlock Irrigation District (TID) Board of Directors approved a resolution on March 1, 2011, authorizing the 2011 irrigation season to run from March 10 through October 19.

Because of unsettled weather patterns that typically occur at the beginning (and sometimes the end) of irrigation season, the District’s Water Distribution Department Manager was authorized to adjust the season as necessary.
Due to changing weather conditions, the start of TID’s 2011 irrigation season has been tentatively adjusted to begin March 17, 2011, which could also be rescheduled dependent upon weather conditions.

Thus far in the winter season, Don Pedro Reservoir has been getting filled up, rainfall is above annual average already, and snowpack levels are above today’s date average according to TID.

The Board’s resolution calls for the annual water allotment to be set at 48 inches of water per acre, with additional water available above the allotment, and with no cap.
The 2011 water allotment charge remains unchanged from last year at $26 per acre. Water above the allotment will be available for $15 for the first acre-foot and $20 per acre-foot thereafter.
Customers with questions regarding the irrigation season are encouraged to call (209) 883-8356.

Surplus Water

At the March 1, 2011 TID Board Meeting, TID Board of Directors considered approving the availability of surplus water for $20 per acre foot during the 2011 Irrigation Season to non-District lands which can be served by District facilities.
“What this does is to help augment ground water levels in those areas and reduce the pumping that’s done,” said Debbie Liebersbach, TID Water Planning Department Manager. “We made a similar action last year because we had surplus water available.”
While TID has had surplus water to sell for two years in a row, TID Board President Rob Santos had some of the same questions for two years in a row.
“I had the same question I did last year,” said Santos. “Why is it the same price?”
“That is the standard rate we have charged to outside customers,” stated Liebersbach.
“Another question I had last year,” continued Santos. “We’re helping the groundwater on the eastside, but what are we doing for the westside to help with their groundwater?”
Santos clarified that his questions were in regards to promoting flood irrigating to help recharge the groundwater.
“When we have surplus water, do we promote more flooding on the crops irrigated by drip?”
“They use only like 20,000 acre feet,” stated TID Director Michael Frantz in reference to the surplus water program. “It’s a very small amount of water.”
“I agree, but it’s out of principle,” said Santos. “If we’re really serious about recharging our groundwater, how come we don’t we do something like this to recharge?”
“What are you saying, lower the price,” asked TID Director Joe Alamo.
“I’m saying have some type of incentive for our farmers that are doing drip system to flood irrigate when we have surplus water,” stated Santos.
“That’s something we could consider, but that would be a different action,” replied Liebersbach. “It’d be a different program, something separate from surplus water.”
“I don’t think this would be way off,” interjected Santos. “Because I mentioned it last year and then a few weeks after that Modesto Irrigation District (MID) encouraged their farmers to flood irrigate.”
Liebersbach clarified that MID’s allocation system is set up a little differently in that they have an allocation of 42 inches and then provide an additional 6 inches for ground recharge, but TID provides 48 inches so it’s equivalent.
“But the almond farmers using drip aren’t using 48 inches,” said Santos.
“No, they aren’t,” said Liebersbach.
The TID Water Planning Department Manager said that TID could consider the suggested ideas and could bring the item back, separate from approving surplus water.
“I’m not sure if the Board even cares, but I’m bringing it up because I care,”  said Santos.
“Oh, of course we do,” stated Alamo.
The TID Board of Directors unanimously voted approving the sale of surplus water to non-District lands which can be served by District facilities at a rate of $20 per acre foot during the 2011 irrigation season.

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