At long last, rain fell in Turlock last week – just days after the start of the Turlock Irrigation District's early irrigation season.
But despite 2.17 inches of rain locally, the district has seen higher than expected demand during the limited irrigation season.
In the first day, 544 orders were placed for irrigation water. As of Tuesday, more than 1,000 orders had been placed.
Though calls for water have slowed, TID Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian expects another surge of orders as the deadline draws near on the brief, early irrigation season.
“Some customers are going to wait until the last moment, because that's just what people do,” Kavarian said.
That last moment is rapidly approaching, as Kavarian announced Tuesday the district expects to stop accepting water orders at 5 p.m. Thursday. The district will then begin pulling the system down slowly on Sunday morning, with some water remaining in the main canals to meet demand for last-minute orders.
“We want people to order as soon as possible, just so we can get to everyone,” Kavarian said. “The goal is to take care of everyone, and to deliver water to everyone who has ordered water.”
Already, orders for 32,000 acres of approximately 14,000 hours of irrigation water were taken as of Tuesday morning. About 65 percent of those acres were covered by trees, 30 percent by oats, and the remainder miscellaneous forage crops.
Most orders were along the Hughson, Ceres Main, and Turlock Main canals, according to Kavarian.
Despite demand, the district needs to wrap up the early irrigation season soon, as some lower lateral canals have yet to be cleaned or repaired this winter. Until those canals are drained, no work can be done.
Rain good news for irrigators
Though forecasts call for no local rain for the next six days, the 4.66 inches of precipitation seen last week in the TID watershed have improved summer irrigation projections.
With that rain, including 3.49 inches just on Jan. 21, January precipitation is now approaching the 50-year average of 6.63 inches – despite a dry start. The watershed has seen 9.61 inches of precipitation for the water year, 54.4 percent of average.
TID staff said Tuesday there is now a 41 percent chance that the district will be able to deliver a full water allotment – equivalent to a 48 inch cap, with an average of 30 inches used – and still carryover enough water for a 21-inch allotment in 2013, should there be no further rain. However, there is a 74 percent probability that TID will not be able to both deliver a full allotment and fill Don Pedro Reservoir this year.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.