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TID extends irrigation season, offers more water

TID extends irrigation season, offers more water

TID water distribution operator Ron Beebe fills an order. After local growers voiced their dissent with water supplies, the TID Board of Directors decided to extend the irrigation season and raise...


POSTED July 28, 2009 10:30 p.m.
Local growers will be the beneficiaries of a wetter than expected rainy season this year, as Turlock Irrigation District customers will be entitled to a longer than anticipated irrigation season and an additional 15 inches of water allotment and additional 6 inch cap.
The TID Board of Directors unanimously voted on Tuesday to extend the irrigation season for one week, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21, to increase the allotment from 33 inches to 48 inches, and to raise the cap from 48 inches to 54 inches. The entire allotment will fall under Tier 1 rates, at $23 per acre, while the additional 6 inches of cap can be purchased at $15 per acre-foot.
The initial allotment and cap were determined in the Board’s April 14 meeting based on projections for the rainy season. The revised numbers agreed to on Tuesday were based on actual runoff data collected thus far, which place flows at 85 percent of the average year.
“The whole game of this whole deal is trying to figure out what the weather is going to be,” said TID General Manager Larry Weis.
The Board initially took a somewhat conservative approach to calculating the irrigation allotment so as to leave a good amount of reserve water in the Don Pedro Reservoir. However, farmers raised an uproar at the July 14 Board meeting, pointing out that rainfall had been higher than expected and additional irrigation water was needed to help growers through the late summer hot spell.
“In short, if it weren’t for the farmers uniting and standing up to the Board two weeks ago and had there not been such a large group of us there (on Tuesday), the outcome would not have been the same,” said Dawna Rebiero of Trinkler Dairy Farms, Inc., who helped organize the standing-room only crowd of growers at Tuesday’s meeting. “The credit is not due to the Board’s awareness but to the determination and uniting of farmers.”
The original allocation and cap would have allowed TID to enter the 2009-2010 irrigation season with a projected 26.1 inches of irrigation water for every acre of TID irrigated land. A revised plan floated Tuesday, which would have entirely eliminated an upper cap, would leave a projected 25.4 inches of irrigation water, a difference of about 15,000 acre-feet.
“That, in this statistical big bucket of this water flow system, is nothing,” Weis said.
The cap was ultimately set at 54 inches, rather than completely eliminated, at the suggestion of TID Division 5 Director Randy Fiorini.
“It’s going to meet the needs of 99 percent of our growers and communicate to the rest of the world that we do care about conservation and we don’t have an unlimited supply of water,” Fiorini said.
The change in allotment and cap will cost the District an estimated $800,000. TID is currently operating at an approximately $7.9 million deficit this fiscal year to date, which is better than the expected deficit of $8.8 million.
The costs of the move were not a driving factor in the Board’s decision, which farmers lauded as needed and TID directors considered a prudent use of the available reservoir water.
“I guess the point is there’s a whole lot of water there, and we’re probably going to fill it (Don Pedro Reservoir) up by March anyway,” said TID District 4 Director Rob Santos.
TID customers can place water orders by calling the TID Call Center at 883-8456.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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