The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors meeting got a little heated on Tuesday when farmers expressed dismay regarding the district's recent decision to make 15,000 acre feet of additional water available for irrigators.
Those who spoke at the meeting expressed concern that the additional water would prove detrimental to farmers who have already invested heavily in groundwater wells.
“Everybody had planned what they were going to do,” said Michael Trinkler, a dairy farmer from Ceres.
Trinkler said his farm has invested over $2 million in groundwater wells, and this additional water would be unfair to those in similar situations.
Darrell Monroe, another local farmer, said the additional water would go to waste if it is not used by the end of this year's irrigation season.
“It's a situation where if you don't use it, you lose it,” said Monroe.
Monroe was also skeptical of where all of this additional water actually came from, stating that the amount of extra run off still seems a bit unbelievable.
“It’s not like a glacier fell into Don Pedro,” said Monroe. “It just doesn't look good.”
According to TID staff, the water was made available after the district learned that runoff flow into Don Pedro Reservoir would be more than originally projected.
TID Board Chair Michael Frantz said that determining the yield from runoff is not “an exact science.”
He also said the decision to make this water available was directly due to farmers expressing concern about finishing up their crop.
“There was a good size amount of people who came out last time and said they needed this water,” said Frantz. “It was an act of compassion by the board.”
Despite the opposition, the water is still available for interested irrigators with the open enrollment period for the water ending on Aug. 9.
The water is priced at the Tier 4 rate of $20 per acre foot.