With the Turlock Irrigation District's 2012 irrigation season just a few months away, an ongoing dearth of rain has forecasters projecting below-average allotments.
As of Sunday, just .08 inches of precipitation had fallen in February. As much as 1.2 inches could fall in the TID watershed this coming week, per TID forecasts, but no rain is projected in the following week.
New California Department of Water Resources projections suggest 1.03 million acre-feet of total runoff for the Tuolumne River in the 2011-2012 water year – 53 percent of the average water year. A dry scenario could see as little as 600,000 acre-feet of runoff, while a wet scenario would lead to a still-small 1.98 million acre-feet of runoff.
“In the wet scenario, they're forecasting an average year,” said TID utility analyst Jason Carkeet.
Based on the new DWR projections, TID issued a new internal irrigation projection, allowing the board to assess irrigation plans for the coming season.
That forecast calls for a 36-inch irrigation allotment cap this year. Should dry conditions continue, that would result in enough carryover storage to allow for 28.1 inches of irrigation in 2013, 21.9 inches in 2014, and 18.3 inches in 2015.
“This isn't to dictate any kind of policy, it's just to forecast possibilities,” Carkeet said.