Turlock Irrigation District customers could receive a historically low amount of water for the second straight irrigation season, per the report presented at Tuesday’s growers outreach meeting.
The TID staff is recommending the Board of Directors approve less than 18 inches of water for customers — less than last year’s record low of 20 inches.
That number could of course raise, or fall, depending on rainfall over next couple of months — although the forecast is not looking favorably for irrigation customers.
Wes Monier, Strategy Issues and Planning Department Manager for TID, said there is no rainfall predicted for the next nine days, with the possibility of only a couple of around 1.5 inches over the days following.
“The hydrological situation for 2015 is not shaking up very well for us,” said Tour Her, TID Assistant General Manager of Water Resources. “… The precipitation, as Wes [Monier] pointed out, is at 58 percent, but the snowpack is at 23 percent.”
Even if the area receives average rainfall throughout February and March, that will only put the district on track to give the recommended less than 18 inches. Watershed accumulation is approximately 10 inches below average; an average February and March would give 6.07 and 5.4 inches, respectively.
However, if both months are drier than normal, customers may get less than the currently recommended totals.
“Now come February, we’re going to have another set of meetings like this and if we don’t have that 6 inches my story will be a little bit worse probably, said Her.
Much like last year, TID will be pumping groundwater to help mitigate lack of surface water for irrigation; the district will pump an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water this year, for a total of 90,000 acre-feet.
Once again TID will be renting pumps from customers and offering those customers 12 inches of water, however not all customers will be used for pumping.
Customers east of Faith Home Road and north of Harding Road will not be asked to rent pumps to the district. Last year pumps in this area were rented by TID, however for many reasons the district will not rent those pumps this year.
Customers with pumps in those areas will still be available for some pump credits, however, according to staff.
Those looking to rent pumps to the district will need to sign a rental agreement with TID by June 30.
The report was all preliminary, however TID wants to keep the local farmers informed early, just as they did last year.
“Obviously it’s very preliminary, but like last year, we’ve heard a lot from you folks that it’s good to know early so we can start preparing,” said Her.
Typically growers meetings are held in February, however last year TID hosted meetings in January and February before approving the driest irrigation season in the district’s history.
TID will host two more growers outreach meetings on Feb. 24 and 25 to allow staff to update the farmers of conditions before setting the season either that week or the first week of March.
The irrigation season will start a little later this year, running from mid-April to late-October. Those dates would be adjusted based on conditions, however.
Irrigation customers will also face higher rates this year, in addition to the lower amount of available water.
The TID Board of Directors approved a resolution to double irrigation rates on Jan. 13, which will go into effect this upcoming irrigation season.
With the dry year on the horizon, irrigation customers will be charged the dry year rates, which are more than double the increased normal year rates.