A major change to irrigation season may await Turlock Irrigation District growers, should another critically dry year occur.
The Turlock Irrigation District may consider using irrigation rotations to conserve water in the driest of times, an idea suggested Tuesday by TID Director Rob Santos.
“In these dire times, don't you think we'd need to change it up a little bit?” Santos asked. “Walk the talk?”
Rotations would see farmers receive water only every 10 or 20 days, for example, rather than on-demand water ordering like the current TID system allows. By restricting who can order water and when, TID could theoretically reduce water waste by only filling certain canals on certain days.
“To me, it seems like it'd be more efficient,” Santos said. “We'd save water.”
But the infrequent, inflexible irrigations could be of serious concern to growers.
“Some crops couldn't survive that,” Director Joe Alamo said.
Even this year, some TID customers will likely run into trouble completing irrigation season without running out of water.
According to TID Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian, 20 percent of customers have used more than 12 inches of water already – with only 34 inches allotted for the entire water year. Those growers might have trouble completing the six-to-eight irrigations needed to grow a complete corn crop.
“Some customers, they won't make it,” Kavarian said. “I don't know how they could.”
Any change to a rotation-based irrigation system likely wouldn't happen until next year at the soonest. Even then, irrigation rotations would likely only occur following a third consecutive critically dry year.