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TID concludes frugal irrigation season
canal pic
During his irrigation season summary, Turlock Irrigation District Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian said that a small amount of leftover water is available for select customers to use in lieu of groundwater. - photo by Journal file photo

Although the 2015 Turlock Irrigation District irrigation season is over, a select number of growers can still potentially take advantage of excess water, however, the district stressed that the amount of water available is minimal.

“There is still some water in the upper part of the Turlock Main [Canal] and Ceres Main [Canal]. We are holding on to it for phone calls that we might get this week or next week for customers who want water,” said TID spokesperson Calvin Curtin. “However, they have to be in the right area of the district where the water is easily accessible.

“It’s not a whole lot, but we are trying to maximize every drop of water we possibly can. We want to provide as much surface water as we can in lieu of groundwater,” continued Curtin.

This leftover water was just one component that TID Water Distribution Department Manager Mike Kavarian discussed on Tuesday as part of his 2015 irrigation season summary.

“Farmers have done a very good job this year irrigating and watching their water,” said Kavarian. “I think that customers have realized that four years of a drought is a difficult situation for everybody.”

This year, Turlock Lake releases in October totaled to 17,365 acre feet. Kavarian said that according to data that dates back to 1935, this year is the 12th lowest October in terms of how much water was released. The smallest amount was in October 1977, when only  912 acre feet was released.

During the last 20 days of the2015 irrigation season, Turlock Lake releases stayed below approximately 700 cubic feet per second until the last eight days of the season when the release amount reached 1,450 cfs. Kavarian told TID directors that this surge has become the norm over the last five years.

“The last seven to 10 days of irrigation season is when we spike up. We go from about 600 to 700 cfs to sometimes up to 1,700 cfs,” said Kavarian. “We want to try to have farmers order earlier if they can so they don’t get backed up and we don’t have that spike.”

Kavarian said that in an effort to mitigate this end-of-season upsurge, his department kept growers notified as to when the last day to order water would be at numerous board meetings, as well as through the TID Water Call Center and TID Water Distribution Operators.

“I think the people who have ordered in the last day or two have felt some of the pain and hurt of not being able to get their water in a timely manner, so I think some of those guys have ordered a little bit sooner,” said Kavarian.

Kavarian said that Turlock Lake Releases throughout the entirety of the 2015 irrigation season totaled to 281,484 acre feet. According to data from the last 80 years, this year’s irrigation season had the third lowest release. The lowest year was 1977 with 148,636 acre feet, followed by 1989 with 224,732.

Kavarian said that due to a short irrigation season, one of the shortest he said he has ever seen, the district also saw the lowest amount of water orders that it has seen over the past 25 years with 34,176 orders this year. Last year was the second lowest with 34,864 water orders.

 “Like you said yourself, your WDOs did a good job, your whole staff did a good job, but also customers did a good job,” said TID Board President Ron Macedo. “We worked as best as we possibly could and we gave everybody as much information as we could.

“Hopefully this will be the last dry year that we have to go through, but if it’s not, we’ll do an even bigger and better job next year. We have to,” continued Macedo.