The Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve adding the City of Waterford to the Turlock Groundwater Basin Association after the city purchased the unincorporated town of Hickman’s water system, which is within the Turlock Subbasin, from the City of Modesto in July of last year.
“The City of Waterford has actually taken action and asked us to be able to join the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] and to join the TGBA to be included in the list of parties,” said Water planning Department Manager Debbie Liebersbach.
Local agencies within the Turlock Groundwater Basin have been working together on groundwater management issues since 1994. A MOU was adopted in 1995, which established the TGBA for the purpose of developing a basin-wide groundwater management plan.
Once the basin-wide plan was completed in 1997, TGBA automatically dissolved. The majority of agencies adopted the plan and continued to work together to implement it. Later, in 2001, a second MOU was developed to formalize the TGBA, and provide a focal point for local groundwater management efforts.
“The TGBA was established as a forum for water agencies within the subbasin to work together on groundwater management issues, particularly a groundwater management plan that was developed for the subbasin,” said Liebersbach. “It is simply a coordinating entity, it doesn’t have any authority. All of the authority lies within the agencies.
Following the Board’s action to add the City of Waterford to the TGBA, Directors also voted to amend the process detailed in the MOU to include any other additional water agencies in the future since an increased interest in groundwater issues may prompt several other agencies to want to join the Association as well.
“When the MOU was established it was intended to include in it a list of parties that included all of the water agencies within the subbasin—and it did to our knowledge at the time,” said Liebersbach. “However, as we worked through SGMA issues over the past year or so and worked with DWR, we noticed there might be some other smaller agencies that might want to join the subbasin’s TGBA.”
Previously, the MOU stated that in order to add another agency, the governing bodies of two-thirds of the member agencies must take action to make an amendment. Once officially included on the list of parties to the MOU, agencies can take action to elect to sign the MOU and joint the Association.
Directors voted on Tuesday to revise the language to instead require two-thirds of the TGBA Board, which includes one representative from each participating water agency for a total of approximately 15 members, to approve the addition of another water agency to the existing TGBA.