Recent Rainfall Brings Increased Water Allotment Levels for Growers

Thanks to better than average rain and snowfall in March and encouraging April numbers, the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) Board of Directors increased the allotment and total water available for the 2012 Irrigation Season on Tuesday.

After a unanimous vote on Tuesday morning, the original 2012 irrigation allotment of 24 inches was raised to 30 inches, with an increased cap from 30 inches to 40 inches.

The original resolution to be discussed at the meeting, as prepared by Water Planning Department Manager Debbie Liebersbach, was to approve the adjustment in water availability for the 2012 irrigation season with an increase from 6-inches to 12-inches per acre for a total of 36-inches per acre available.

TID Director Ron Macedo, however, suggested that with the increase in water availability, the allotment should be increased to a 40-inch cap.

“It’s really a trade-off quite frankly. If you gave more water now, you’d have a little less as carryover. If we bumped it up to about 42 inches, we’d have about 22 inches carryover,” explained Liebersbach.

The original 36-inch allotment would have provided about 24 inches available for carryover for the 2013 Irrigation Season.

Macedo, however, believed that even if the additional water for this season meant less water for the following year, it would at least give growers adequate time to prepare, and noted that many growers have already made investments to crops and land which could benefit from the additional water this season.

The increase in available water comes on the heels of a wet March and promising April. March’s 5.99 inches of precipitation marked the first time since September that a month’s precipitation bettered the California Department of Water Resources 50-year average.

As of April 15, the total precipitation to the watershed stood at 21.17 inches, which is still only 64.8 percent of average for that date.

“We could do a 30-10 structure, as long as people understand that there are going to be people who are going to go over that 40 inches because of the last irrigation aspect, so they are going to hit that third tier,” explained Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian in response to the Board’s discussion regarding the 30 inch allotment with 10 additional inches. “There are going to be people in the third tier paying $20 an acre foot, which will offset some of the pumping costs. The third tier would be anything over about 42 inches, which is only available to those individuals with rented pumps.”

In addition to the water stored in Don Pedro Reservoir used for irrigation, TID is expecting to pump about 120,000 acre feet of groundwater this year, about twice the amount of normal years.

TID Board of Directors will be holding their next regularly scheduled meeting on April 24, at 9am. Meetings are held in the Board Room, located at the Main Office Building at 333 East Canal Drive.

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