Turlock Irrigation District customers have until Tuesday to protest a proposed adjustment that will more than double irrigation rates for the 2015 season.
If approved by TID’s Board of Directors, irrigation customers will see an increase to their fixed charge of $23 per acre to $60 per acre for normal years. For dry years, the district’s fixed charge will increase from $26 per acre to $68 per acre.
Fixed charges represent the base rate a customer has to pay to be included in the district. The district is not proposing an increase to volumetric charges, which are defined by the amount of water a customer uses.
If approved, this proposed increase will more than double overall water charges from $8.25 per acre foot to $17.50 per acre foot for normal years. For dry years, the typical price will increase from $15.50 per acre foot to $36.50 per acre foot.
Despite this potential increase, the district’s irrigation rates would still remain below the average of neighboring districts in the area.
This adjustment will be used to address a number of expenditures according to the district, including the implementation of a Water Master Plan. According to civil engineering department manager Brad Koehn, this plan will serve as a comprehensive guide to assist district decisions in the future.
“This project is something the district has never done before,” said Koehn in November. “However, a lot of what this master plan will do formally is what we have been doing informally since the creation of TID. It’s just a matter of putting all the components together and modeling these different scenarios. More than ever before we are trying to look more into the future so that we can make better decisions now.”
Other projects that will be funded by the proposed adjustment are the Lateral 8 Total Channel Control and Reservoir Project. The increase will also address revenue shortfall, costs of governmental relations and the purchase of the Palm Street Operations Complex.
Although TID is arguing that this increase is necessary for the health of the district, local farmer Rose Morris is doing everything in her power to stop this proposed adjustment in its tracks.
“TID is out of control. They can’t even give us enough water and they are going to charge us more,” said Morris.”I wish they would’ve explained this better, or given us an extension.”
Morris said that last year she paid approximately $1,100. With this potential increase, she could be paying upwards of $2,800.
“I just want get this out there so people understand,” continued Morris. “If we are stuck with it, then we’re stuck with it—but we don’t have to be stuck.”
Prior to Tuesday’s scheduled rate hearing, TID hosted two grower meetings in September and October, as well as a Board of Directors Workshop, where district staff explained what the proposed adjustment would look like and the circumstances that made the proposal necessary for the health of the district.
“Our whole purpose in this entire process is to be as transparent and open as possible to try to explain what position we’re in,” said TID spokesperson Calvin Curtin. “Nobody wants to hear that rates could potentially go up, but growers have appreciated that we are as honest and forthright with them as we possibly could.”
According to Curtin, TID has received a total of 48 parcel protests as of Wednesday. Under the California State Constitution, if the district receives a majority protest from its customers, the Board is not allowed to approve the proposal.
To achieve majority protest, the district reports that it still must receive upwards of 4,000 additional parcel protests.
The hearing for the proposed irrigation rate adjustment is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday in the TID Board Room, located at 333 E. Canal Dr.