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Irrigation season official end meets projections
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As the Turlock Irrigation District’s 2012 irrigation season came to a close this week, the district’s final tally of water usage was almost unbelievably close to preseason projections.

According to the District, that final count finished just 581 acre-feet above the preseason proposal of 446,087 acre-feet of water used.

“That's incredible you were able to get it that close,” said TID Director Charles Fernandes.

The total does not include the approximately 109,000 acre-feet of pumped water used to supplement rainfall in this historically dry water year. Even including the pumped water, the year marked either the sixth or seventh lowest available water total since New Don Pedro Dam was built.

TID recorded 42,089 orders over the course of the irrigation season, the seventh lowest total in the past 20 years. The total was roughly on par for a drought year, TID Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian said.

The slow shutdown of the TID system began on Thursday. Some water orders will be delivered as late as Sunday, using remaining irrigation water stacked behind drops in larger canals.

Kavarian credited the District’s water distribution operators with good work, which has allowed the district to largely avoid wasting water as the irrigation season ends.


Tunnel removal project starts

The Turlock Irrigation District has begun the process to blast away dirt and rock covering a 360-foot long tunnel on TID’s upper main canal, “daylighting” the canal and removing a mountaintop in hopes of preventing a potentially disastrous tunnel collapse.

Work started Monday on the $975,000 project, near La Grange. Contractors are currently filling a portion of the TID main canal with dirt, which will allow the use of heavy equipment to begin the breakdown of the failing tunnel. Explosives may be used at a later date to aide in moving the nearly 80,000 square yards of dirt and rock.

The 360-foot long, 20-foot wide TID Tunnel 2 was originally built in 1891, and then widened to 30 feet in 1914. The concrete base and concrete lined walls withstood the test of time, but the unsupported rock ceiling has begun to collapse. TID Tunnels 1 and 3 were constructed using different materials, and show no signs of pending collapse.

A 40-foot long by 25-foot wide cavity has developed roughly mid-Tunnel 2, stretching 17 feet above the former tunnel crown. In 2003 a further 15-foot by 15-foot by 4-foot slab fell from the roof into the canal, mid-summer, at the height of canal flows.

Should the tunnel fail, a month-long outage in the heart of irrigation season could cost TID $850,000 – not counting the multi-million dollar costs of repairing the canal system, which would likely be washed away upstream. To farmers, a 30 day irrigation outage would result in nearly $14 million in lost revenue.

The daylighting project is expected to be completed by Dec. 15.


Rate hike proposed at Don Pedro Reservoir

Forever Resorts, operators of the houseboat mooring docks at Lake Don Pedro Marina, has proposed a large rate increase on private houseboat mooring costs.

The private houseboat mooring rate would increase by approximately 50 percent under the proposal. The annual renewal fee is currently $375 for renewals paid before Jan. 31 annually, and $475 for late renewals.

The rate increase was discussed by the Don Pedro Recreation Agency Board of Control at their Oct. 12 meeting, but no action was taken. The board will take the item up again at their next regularly scheduled meeting.