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TID approves short-term Gomes Lake agreement
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Homes and businesses near the San Joaquin River are one step closer to having flood protection this winter season as the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to enter into a short-term agreement with the Gomes Lake Joint Powers Agency.The JPA membership — made up of TID, the City of Turlock, Stanislaus County and Reclamation Districts 2063 and 2091 — is in flux, since the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors took issue with the distribution of costs and terminated their membership in August.As originally drafted in 1972, The JPA that maintains Gomes Lake included the TID, a 41 percent stakeholder; the City of Turlock, responsible for 30 percent; Stanislaus County at 19 percent; and Reclamation Districts 2063 and 2091 at 8 and 2 percents, respectively.
In 2001, county public works proposed and drafted a revised JPA in which they took a leadership role, assuming 45 percent of costs. The City of Turlock paid 35 percent, TID 20 percent, and both Reclamation Districts paid nothing.
The State of California, which owns the facility, pays nothing to maintain it.
“It’s obvious that the percentage split is completely unfair to the county,” said Supervisor Bill O’Brien at the Aug. 10 Board of Supervisors meeting. “But it sounds to me (like) there’s another reason to terminate this JPA, to get the state to the table.”
The JPA spent $404,000 between 2005 and 2007, on pump maintenance costs for Gomes Lake. The county’s share was $181,897.
TID Director Charles Fernandes said at Tuesday’s meeting he saw the inequities of the JPA in the past.“In the past, reclamation parties didn’t pay their fair share,” he said.However, the directors agreed that having no agreement in place this winter could be troublesome.In the 1950s and 1960s levees were constructed along the San Joaquin River to provide flood protection to parcels near the river. The levees affected natural drainage, blocking flows of storm water and irrigation tail water and causing less routine but potentially more devastating flooding.
The Gomes Lake facility works to prevent that flooding by pumping backed up water through the levees and into the San Joaquin River.
 On Tuesday, the TID Board of Directors also:

·         Approved an increase in fees for the Don Pedro Recreation Agency that will take effect Jan. 1, 2011. According to Don Pedro Recreation Department Manager Carol Russell, the current fee schedule was not bringing in enough money to sufficiently cover operation and maintenance costs. After surveying fees from similar recreational areas in the state, a series of rate increases were proposed. A few of the changes include an increase in one night full hook-up for recreational vehicles from $32 to $35; a partial RV hook up in season went from $26 to $28; and a tent space increased from $21 to $22.

·         In a split 3-2 vote, approved four individual agreements allowing the grazing of stock on project lands for a five-year period. Directors Michael Frantz and Joe Alamo voted against approving the agreements, which have been renewed every five years since the building of the Don Pedro project in 1971. Among their concerns were the district wasn’t charging fair market value for the grazing lands.“I’d rather deal with local people, but closer to market value,” Alamo said.Frantz also raised the issue of fairness and transparency in the agreements.“An open bid would be a fairer way for other ranchers to have a crack at it,” Frantz said. “It feels like an old-boy network. We need to make it a more transparent process.”

·         Discussed looking into the role TID could play in promoting the use of electric vehicles. Steve Boyd, AGM of Consumer Services, said he has had preliminary meetings with a hotel owner in the Patterson area about TID partnering on an electric car charging station. The directors asked Boyd to look further into their options in bringing charging stations to the TID area.“I’d like us to be a leader in this,” Fernandes said. “Especially if someone is willing to make the investment; we have a built-in customer.”To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.