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TID: Making growth possible

TID: Making growth possible

The 360-foot long, 20-foot wide TID Tunnel 2 was originally built in 1891, and then widened to 30 feet in 1914 (pictured above). In 2012, the tunnel was "daylighted" by blasting away the dirt and r...

POSTED February 26, 2013 5:28 p.m.

Nearly 125 years ago, one of the most unique and productive features about Turlock today was once lost in an unfruitful wasteland of desolation. Agricultural production once ran scarce, and wouldn’t have been brought to life without the visionary talents and dedication of those who founded the Turlock Irrigation District in 1887.

TID’s collaborative efforts not only provided one of the most agriculturally productive valleys in the world, but initiated itself as one of the first publicly owned irrigation districts in the United States on June 6, 1887. As though being an independently controlled area governed by a five-member Board of Directors wasn’t enough, TID is also an innovator in providing electric retail energy directly to businesses, farms and homes, a perk that only three other districts in all of California can boast of.

Its visionary leadership and expansion into new technologies and energy sources are large factors as to why Turlock has continued to grow from an arid region into a historic county.

But providing the initial steps it took to create a thriving Mecca took time. It wasn’t until 1893 that the District, which partnered with Modesto Irrigation District, completed La Grange Dam, which enabled water to be diverted into canals. A mere seven years later, Henry Stirring was the first farmer to obtain irrigation water from those canals in Ceres.

Within a short amount of time, wishful farmers began populating the neighborhood, feeding off TID’s success to build their own lives. An economic and agricultural growth rapidly spread throughout the Stanislaus region, promoting a greater output of various crops, including almonds, grapes, and melons.

TID’s success was nothing short of productive, and continued to provide affordable and reliable electricity with the construction of the 1923 Don Pedro Dam and Powerhouse, which was capable of generating 15 megawatts, and could store up to 289,000 acre-feet of water. 

By 1971, the new Don Pedro Dam and Powerhouse triumphantly added to the influx of supply to those who will come to rely on TID’s power and water services. The new necessities created a water storage capacity of 2,030,000 acre-feet, and possessed a generating capacity of 203 megawatts, which soon led to the first of eight small scale hydroelectric power pants on canals in 1979.

The District's customer base grew to roughly 98,000 accounts in electrical services alone for farms, businesses, municipal, industrial, and residential areas in Stanislaus, Merced, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. All water for irrigation and hydroelectric power production continues to be stored at the Don Pedro Reservoir.

By the 1980s and 90s, TID had created a Walnut Power Plant, and an Almond Power Plant that provided approximately 50 megawatts of power each before finally acquiring a certification as an independently controlled area in 2005.

By 2006, TID opened their largest generation facility known as the Walnut Energy Center, which provides 250 megawatts of power. With the onslaught of 2012, TID refused to slow down its progress and received acclaim for opening Almond 2 Power Plant, a 174-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant that utilizes technologically advanced systems.

For 2013 and beyond, TID continues to look at innovation and service. The first step to future success: Don Pedro relicensing.

 “This multi-use facility provides water storage, power generation, recreation and flood control that provides benefits for District customers and others within our region,” TID General Manager Casey Hashimoto.

“Our water, that helps sustain agriculture and the other industries in our District, continues to be vulnerable. We will continue to improve the efficiency of water use on farms. We will aggressively defend our water supply, so that it will continue to be put to beneficial uses here in the District rather than being taken for beneficial uses elsewhere.”

TID provides water to more than 5,800 growers, and works alongside 149,500 acres of farmland in the Central Valley. Securing these water systems and power lines is no easy feat, but one TID is committed to undertaking.

“Customer service will remain a priority for TID. We want to investigate and possibly invest in technological improvements to help better serve our customers,” Hashimoto said. “With our employees, we would like to provide better training to help our frontline employees be more informed and able to answer customer questions.”

TID has continued to uphold its promise to provide its best services for its clients. The District's dedication to growth throughout the last 126 years has benefit Turlock’s agricultural and economic developments immensely, and will continue to do so for the next 126 years.

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