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New TID reservoir brings water saving benefits
Ceres Main reservoir 1
Turlock Irrigation District’s new Ceres Main Regulating Reservoir west of Keyes was unveiled Tuesday. The reservoir is capable of holding 220 acre feet of water and is expected to save some 10,000 acre feet of water each year (Photo courtesy of TID).

Turlock Irrigation District’s newly completed $10 million Ceres Main Regulating Reservoir west of Keyes was unveiled Tuesday, with the district’s board of directors touring the new facility.

Operational for nearly two weeks, the reservoir is capable of holding 220 acre feet of water (about 220 football fields each submerged in 1 foot of water) and is expected to save some 10,000 acre feet of water each year.  It is currently holding 150 acre feet of water, about two-thirds full.

The reservoir — or pond as it’s sometimes referred to — has a gravity inlet with two flume gates that operate at a total capacity of 100 cubic feet per second. For putting water back into the Ceres Main Canal, it has four variable speed pumps (75 horsepower each), also with a total combined capacity of 100 cubic feet per second.

“We have the water savings, which in itself is massive, but we have the fact that our downstream customers, who in the past would’ve sometimes gone without water when our supply dips, can be sure they’ll receive their full allotment when they ask for it, since this acts as a buffer,” said Michael Frantz, Division 1 director. “From a customer service standpoint, it’s a big step forward.”

Ceres Main reservoir 2

The reservoir sits on 39 acres of former almond orchards. The Ceres Main Canal runs along the north and east sides of the pond, while Lower Lateral 3 runs adjacent to the pond’s south side.

The regulating reservoir is the second constructed by TID following the success of the Lateral 8 Regulating Reservoir completed in 2016.

Construction on the project began last October, and TID received a $2 million grant from the United States Bureau of Reclamation thanks to its potential water savings benefits.

“The project came in significantly higher that what we originally estimated,” said reservoir designer Matthew Hazen, senior civil engineer for TID. “We saw across the board about 50 percent higher prices on concrete, steel, pipes … pretty much everything. It was astronomical.

“We were able to offset a lot of those prices because we were using District crews. Then we had one of the wettest years in history, and that hindered our ability to realize a lot of those efficiencies. We ended up having to remobilize men and equipment pretty frequently during the course of the project.”

The reservoir will capture fluctuations in water flow from the Ceres Main Canal and pump the stored excess water back into the Ceres Main Canal to improve customer service downstream, lessen the need for groundwater pumping, and reduce water loss from the canal system.

As an example, the Lateral 8 Regulating Reservoir has reduced the need for groundwater pumping in its service area by 90 percent since its completion in 2016.

“The Ceres Main Regulating Reservoir is the latest step in modernizing our 100-plus-year-old irrigation system,” said TID board resident, Ron Macedo. “Its location along the Ceres Main Canal allows improved water efficiency, reliability, and faster response times for nearly 25,000 acres of ag land.”

TID has plans to construct an additional regulating reservoir along its Lateral 5.5 in southwest Turlock in the coming years. 

“With climate change, water is so precious and we have to act now to be able utilize facilities like this for water conservation,” said TID general manager Michelle Reimers. “I’m absolutely proud of the project, the staff, the directors’ foresight for allowing us to construct this within our system. It is the future for water in California.”

The Ceres Main Regulating Reservoir is also the epicenter for another TID endeavor: Project Nexus. In conjunction, UC Merced, Solar AquaGrid and the state’s Department of Water Resources, Project Nexus is slated to begin later this year, and aims to create energy and reduce evaporation by placing a network of solar panels over canals.