Things are looking up for local growers as the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors will consider on Tuesday beginning the 2016 irrigation season next month with an irrigation cap that doubles the amount of water provided last year during their meeting.
“Over the last couple of months, we’ve been quite blessed with above-average precipitation,” Assistant General Manager of Water Resources Tou Her told customers during the annual grower meeting last month. “We’ve dramatically improved in hydrology. Mother Nature has certainly dealt us a pretty good card so far.
Her said that with 36 inches of surface water potentially being available for the 2016 irrigation season, with approximately 20 inches of carryover for the following year, TID would resume normal operations like they have done in the past several years before the drought. This would mean that the District would return to adhering to the normal year water rate schedule, which encompasses a fixed charge of $60 per acre.
This proposal is a refreshing change to say the least from the 2015 irrigation season, which saw a disheartening 18-inch cap water allotment with no carryover in the Don Pedro Reservoir, and the 2014 irrigation season, which brought with it a 20-inch water allotment.
Data up until Sunday at TID revealed that the Tuolumne River Watershed has experienced 4.13 inches of precipitation throughout the month of March, with 3.54 inches of rainfall brought to the region on Saturday and Sunday alone. With this total, accumulated precipitation in the Tuolumne River Watershed from September to March 7 now stands at 31.85 inches and 121.7 percent of the region’s historical average of 30.31 inches.
Despite the amount of refreshing rainfall received throughout the region, TID acknowledges that Don Pedro Reservoir is still recovering from the driest four consecutive water years on record and that hydrological conditions for the second half of the water year remain unknown.
Due to unsettled weather patterns often experienced at the start and sometimes at the end of the irrigation season, TID Directors will also consider authorizing the Water Distribution Department Manager to adjust the start and end dates of the 2016 irrigation season as deemed necessary. This will allow staff to adjust quickly to maximize the use of the District’s limited resources, and any adjustments will be reported to the Board.
Pending the Board’s approval, the 2016 irrigation season will begin on April 7 and end on Oct. 19. The TID Board of Directors will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the TID Boardroom, 333 East Canal Dr.