After two postponements, the Turlock Irrigation District’s 2014 irrigation season is set to start on Thursday.
The district has already begun to charge its irrigation system, gradually releasing water from Turlock Lake. That release of water started Monday, said Mike Kavarian, TID Water Distribution Department Manager.
Water was expected to reach the highline canal by Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday morning, it’s expected to hit the point where the Ceres and Turlock Main Canal split.
However, lower laterals may not receive water until as late as Sunday, Kavarian said. It’s all part of the district’s plan to conserve water this irrigation season.
“We’re taking it slowly to see how calls happen,” Kavarian said.
The district isn’t predicting a huge surge in irrigation water orders right off the bat. Only “minimal calls” have come in from concerned farmers, Kavarian said; if the water was truly needed this instant, the call center would have likely been inundated with calls for the past three or four days
The slow start to irrigation season comes as the district is hoping to avoid wasting precious water in this drought year. TID’s watershed has received 16.76 inches of precipitation this water year, just 53.3 percent of the average year’s precipitation.
If orders don’t materialize, the district doesn’t want to be left spilling good water out of the end of its system. TID could even take steps to temporarily halt irrigation water deliveries, if demand is low.
“If we get minimal orders on Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll shut things down at Turlock Lake,” Kavarian said.
Due to the dry conditions growers will be soft capped at just 20 inches of water per acre of land this year, less than half of the water available in a normal year. The season’s start has been twice postponed to conserve water for later in the irrigation season; it was originally to start March 27, and then April 3.
The TID Call Center will officially open to begin placing water orders on Wednesday. To order water, call 209-883-8456.