The Turlock Irrigation District will sell surplus irrigation water to lands outside District boundaries for the first time since 2006, following a Tuesday Board of Directors decision.
Under the agreement, irrigation water will be made available to parcels adjacent to TID delivery facilities — like canals and irrigation ditches — but not within the District boundaries. Most use is expected from farmers located in the Eastside Water District and the Ballico-Cortez Water District, both of which rely heavily on groundwater pumping.
The program was made possible by the better than average rainy season. As of Tuesday, the District was over 103 percent of average precipitation for the water year.
“The water conditions this year are much, much improved from the last couple of years,” said Debbie Liebersbach, Water Planning Department manager. “Historically in these years, the District has made surplus water available.”
The program makes sense for the District, Liebersbach says, because offering surplus water will reduce the use of deep well pumping for irrigation. The program will give groundwater aquifers a year off from pumping to recharge, plus additional irrigation water filtering through from the soil.
“We want them to use the water so they’re not pumping the groundwater in a deficit state,” said TID District 3 Director Joe Alamo. “It’s something we need to move ahead with for future years.”
In the past, TID has sold on average 3,400 acre-feet of surplus water in years it has offered the program — “not a large amount” in Liebersbach’s words. No more than 5,000 acre-feet have gone toward the program in a single year.
Customers of the program will pay $20 per acre-foot, regardless of the amount of water they use. That’s more than TID customers within District boundaries, who will pay $26 for a 48 inch allotment, $15 for the first acre-foot after the allotment and $20 per acre-foot thereafter.
The outside-District cost is set equal to the third-tier rate, which TID customers would pay only after receiving significantly lower rates for their first 5 acre-feet of water. The standard of pricing outside-District water on par with the most expensive within-District rate has stood for some time, including in 2006 when growers paid $15 per acre-foot.
TID District 4 Director and Chairman of the Board Rob Santos questioned whether the cost should be higher yet, but consensus was reached that discouraging pumping was better for the District than additional revenue.
To place water orders, growers may phone the TID Call Center at 883-8456.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.