The Turlock Irrigation District's efforts to relicense Don Pedro Reservoir are moving forward with an Initial Study Plan public forum set for today and Thursday.
The multi-year project to relicense the reservoir began in 2010 and will continue until April 2014, with the district scheduled to complete 35 different studies to assess the project's effects on the Tuolumne River. The outcome of that relicensing effort could impact the amount of water TID can make available to consumers.
The Initial Study Plan meeting for public comment, questions, and concerns will be held starting at 8 a.m. today and Thursday at Modesto Irrigation District's Multipurpose Room, 1022 Woodland Ave. MID owns one-third of the reservoir.
The districts require a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to operate the reservoir, which is the source of irrigation water and hydroelectric power generation for TID. Don Pedro's current, 50-year license is due to expire in 2016.
Due to changing environmental conditions and concerns, a new license may require more water releases to preserve fish habitats, allowing less water to remain in the reservoir for irrigation, power generation, and recreation.
Community organizations, legislative representatives, and officials from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will also attend the meeting and take note of public opinions.
The first meeting on the agenda deals with socioeconomics, a study that TID's Public Information Division Manager Michelle Reimers feels is extremely relevant to the public.
Socioeconomics can affect the local economy, businesses, and influence perceptions. The goal of previewing the socioeconomic resources at Don Pedro is to enlighten the public about economic conditions that are affected by the project's water supply, flood control, and power benefits.
The study evaluated the effects of any changes to project operations that will be considered part of the relicensing process, which include situations affecting the availability of agricultural and urban water supplies.
"Our goal is to make sure people are informed and give input when they feel necessary," said Reimers. "We are stressing that they stay informed."
On Tuesday morning, TID also:
• Addressed concerns with customer satisfaction and the new look of bill statements.
Customers have voiced a preference for the colored billing envelopes of last year compared to regular white envelopes that were started in 2013. New bill tiers are broken down on the bills and more specific, causing confusion for some customers who thought that they were getting billed twice.
Customers also complained about the "Environmental" rate on the billing statements as they don't understand its function.
In response to the complaints, TID will implement a "How to read your bill" document in February. The district will also focus on call center performance and implement additional training standards for employees.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of registered warrants of the Improvement District known as the Miller Micro-Sprinkler in the amount of $27,332.73.
• The Miller-Muller Micro-Sprinkler District is run by eight growers converting almost 200 acres of land near Denair from flood irrigation to micro-sprinklers and drip irrigation. One parcel holder out of the eight did not pay; therefore the Board of Directors approved the purchase of registered warrants.
• Welcomed Merced Irrigation District Director Kevin Gonzalves as the new Walnut Energy Center Authority Commissioner to replace Will Hunter. Gonzalves said he hopes to learn from TID's success in electrical supplies and options.
"It is a joint partnership to better both communities. It is really for the people," he said.
• Approved a motion changing the TID Directors meeting time for Feb. 5 to 8 a.m.