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OID Scrutinizes Fringe Parcels

POSTED January 20, 2010 12:50 a.m.

Oakdale Irrigation District’s Board of Directors and OID General Manager Steve Knell held a lengthy discussion about the district’s need and plans to limit water availability for out-of-district contracts and the use of OID water on lands outside OID boundaries at the Jan. 19 regular meeting.

Knell said that there are four different categories of “fringe parcels” in the district that use OID water but are located outside OID boundaries, as analyzed by district staff, with some of those lands using OID water without approval. To date, 70 to 80 percent of OID boundaries have been accounted for and reviewed and a number of legal, financial and fairness issues exist.

Knell said that almost 1,700 acres have the potential to use OID water at a potential of 7,800 acre feet of water being used annually. He said that amount of water puts OID water rights at risk, as this usage is not in the water code, and makes the district a potential target for the state. He said that in reporting to the state, these acres don’t count as irrigable acres and makes the efficiency of the OID appear worse than it is.

Knell said there’s “cleanup” that needs to be done in the district and some of that can be handled through annexation. He was referring to some non-OID properties being surrounded by in-district lands. Current fees for annexation are $2,600 per acre, while just a few years ago it was $360 per acre.

There was much discussion amongst the board and from two farmers who have lands that fall both in and out of district boundaries. Board members and staff acknowledged that OID has been complacent and have procrastinated on dealing with this issue for a number of years.

Knell added that there’s a “mixed bag” of these properties affecting how enforcement will be handled, as each property presents unique circumstances and must be handled on a case-by-case basis. Director Steve Webb added that there will be a number of different recommendations before the board because of the unique issues associated with each property. He also said that education needs to be provided to these landowners, telling them that they can’t have 50 acres in the district and 50 acres out of the district and irrigate it all with OID water.

Director Herman Doornenbal said the district needs to keep working with those landowners who are playing by the rules. He later added that “we’re not going to make any friends” by enforcing which lands are entitled to water and which are not, but that it needs to be done.

In business items, the board unanimously approved a revised version of the 2010 draft budget. The revision was to the Community Outreach budget summary. It had been recommended at the Dec. 15 regular meeting that this aspect of the proposed budget be reduced by $80,000. Firm commitments for this area came in at a little over $118,000, while soft commitments were at $38,000 following the elimination of $78,200 in a partnership with the City of Oakdale for water safety, city fire and rural fire departments. There is also $13,700 slated for miscellaneous sponsorships, bringing the total community outreach money budgeted to $170,000. Board members stated that the city and rural fire departments can make their cases for additional funds to the board.

Director Jack Alpers commented that he thought OID should give more money to the community and said he wants to establish in the budget that a minimum of four percent of the Tri-Dam revenues go to the community.

Under the 2010 draft budget summary, total revenues for the district will be $25.1 million (inclusive of bond proceeds); total expenditures will be at nearly $24.9 million (inclusive of bonded projects). In reserves and general fund, nearly $1.3 million will go to the capital replacement and improvement reserve fund and $61,900 to the rural water system capital replacement and improvement fund minus $1.1 million from the general fund, leaving the net amount applied to general and reserve funds (or net income) of $227,488.

In other business, the board approved the travel to Australia for Knell and a district engineer to meet with Rubicon Systems. The board decided that it would be better to have two OID staff members go on the trip, as opposed to having a board member attend with the general manager. Airfare and hotel accommodations will be provided for the OID representatives, while OID will be responsible for their meals. Director Frank Clark suggested that OID should also present Rubicon with information about Oakdale for consideration as a possible place to bring their manufacturing facility.

Rubicon Systems representatives will be visiting the OID from Jan. 20-22 to evaluate the OID systems and come up with pricing for canal automation and control products.

Also in other business, the board approved a sponsorship of $2,000 to the ACWA (Association of California Water Agencies) Centennial program at the 2010 spring conference. OID is one of the five founding districts that started ACWA and Knell noted that the first ACWA president was an OID director. The district will have a free booth space provided at the spring conference in Monterey.

Of note, the OID was recently selected as the Business of the Year by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce.

The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at the OID boardroom, 1205 East F.

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