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Above normal rain, snow to fill Don Pedro

POSTED April 19, 2011 10:08 p.m.

The verdict is in: Turlock Irrigation District’s Don Pedro Reservoir will enter the winter full to the brim for just the fourth time in the last 11 years.

“There’s no longer any question about whether or not we’re going to fill,” TID Utility Analyst Jason Carkeet said.

Don Pedro Reservoir filled last year, but before that had not filled since 2006 due to drought conditions. The rain and snow this year were enough to make growers forget about those dry times.

During March alone, TID counted 13.61 inches of precipitation within its watershed, well above the 50 year average of 5.33 inches. Total watershed accumulated precipitation for the water year now sits at 51.73 inches – 158.4 percent of normal for this date.

Snowpack is also far above long-term averages, at 141.6 percent of the Department of Water Resources-tracked 50-year average.

Even should precipitation continue at just an average rate for the remainder of the water year, which ends Sept. 30, the district forecasts Don Pedro Storage will come within 50,000 acre-feet of the maximum allowed level. Projections show, as of Oct. 31, the 1.7 million acre-feet capacity Don Pedro Reservoir would hold 1.66 million acre-feet of water, at 799.1 feet of elevation.

Even more encouraging to growers, under a dry scenario the reservoir is still projected to hold 1.6 million acre-feet of water on Oct. 31, at 794.3 feet of elevation.

With precipitation seemingly coming to a close for the year, demand is increasing for irrigation water, said TID Water Distribution Manager Mike Kavarian.

Previously, due to continuing rainfall, many growers had held off on ordering water. Thus far, the district has shipped fewer 14,000 acre-feet of water to growers than it had planned; 61,000 acre-feet of releases was expected, while only 47,000 acre-feet were actually used.

In the week of April 11, the district had more water orders than it had seen in that week since 1999, with 1,318 total orders placed.

“We’re finally starting to get busy and run some water,” Kavarian said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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