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TID, SRWA reach historic agreement to provide drinking water

A project nearly 30 years is now complete after Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a Water Sales Agreement that will provide Tuolumne River water for domestic use to the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority.

TID’s decision follows the SRWA Board’s approval of the agreement on July 23. SRWA is a joint powers agency comprised of the cities of Turlock, Ceres and Modesto.

“It speaks volumes that TID and the cities were able to see this agreement through during the most devastating drought in California’s history,” said TID Board President Ron Macedo. “There are several benefits of this project to ag and urban users, and we look forward to seeing them realized.”

The agreement has a 50-year term, is limited to a maximum of 30,000 acre-feet of transfer water to SRWA per year, and will be priced at TID’s Tier 4 Irrigation Water Rate.

The key provision of the final negotiated Water Sales Agreement involves TID transferring Tuolumne River surface water, defined in the agreement as “Transfer Water,” to SRWA. In less than normal irrigation water years, SRWA would provide “Offset Water” to TID, which would be a mix of recycled water and non-potable well water.

This “Offset Water” is to balance the reduced Tuolumne River water available to TID irrigators that comes as a result of the surface water transfer to SRWA. The full agreement, as well as an informational presentation on the topic, is available at

At the July 14 meeting, the TID Board authorized TID staff to negotiate an earlier version of the agreement and to bring any final version back to the Board for review and approval. Staff discussions with SRWA since July 14 ultimately led to the final negotiated agreement being approved by the SRWA Board last week.

Multiple actions still need to be taken before the construction and operation of a SRWA water treatment plant to service the three cities with domestic water. The first of which involves the cities getting approval to finance the project. Other actions involve various elements of permitting, design and construction.

Negotiations between TID and the cities have been intermittent since a drinking water project was envisioned by TID almost 30 years ago. In 2001, TID constructed an infiltration gallery on the Tuolumne River downstream of the Geer Road Bridge to divert river water to a future water treatment plant. In 2011, SRWA was formed to negotiate a water supply agreement with TID.

The overall project would provide benefits across a variety of water users and beneficial uses, including assisting SRWA cities to better meet their water demand, provide in-lieu groundwater recharge for agriculture and urban users, providing additional fishery and aquatic benefits to the Tuolumne River, allowing for TID (obtaining access to recycled water) and SRWA cities (access to surface water) to diversify their water supply portfolios.