Turlock Irrigation District to Consider Water Rate Increase for Farmers

Tomorrow morning, at 9am, the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) Board of Directors will hold a public hearing during their regularly scheduled Board Meeting regarding a resolution to adjust the rates paid for irrigation water, effective January 1, 2013. The purpose of the hearing is to receive comments and consider approval of a revision to the irrigation rate schedule, include an increase in prices charged for irrigation water.

Growers receiving irrigation water from TID are currently charged $26 per acre, which entitles them to a base allotment of water for the growing season. The current $26 per acre water charge has been in place since 2010, however, the cost of operating and maintaining the irrigation system has increased since then. The current revenue received from the water charge is insufficient to meet the costs associated with providing the service.

Also equated into the decision making process of changing the structure and rates for irrigation water is an act of state legislature that requires all irrigation districts to bill customers only for water used. The Water Conservation Act of 2009 requires agricultural water agencies to adopt a water pricing structure based “at least in part on water delivered” by July 31, 2012.

Although the current tiered pricing structure requires growers using above the allotment to pay for the additional water received, in most years farmers typically stay within the allotment, resulting in a flat rate regardless of the amount of water used.

To comply with the new requirements, a new “volumetric” rate structure has been recommended to charge growers on a per-acre foot basis for the water received.

Notices were mailed to land owners with access to irrigation facilities on April 16th explaining the proposed rate increases and outlining the procedure to file a protest, and a limited number of formal protests have been filed to date by affected landowners. According to the voter approved provisions of the California State Constitution, landowners subject to acreage-based charges are allowed the right to protest the implementation of any new fee. Should a majority of the eligible landowners protest, the new charge may not be implemented.

The Public Hearing will be held tomorrow morning during the Board of Directors Meeting at 9am, located at the Main Office Building at 333 East Canal Drive, as to receive public comment on the proposal.

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