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OID Water Season Starts Late March

POSTED March 17, 2010 1:29 a.m.

The 2010 water season to start at the end of March was approved by the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors at the March 16 regular meeting.

OID General Manager Steve Knell said that the district will receive its full entitlement of water this year, but added that this winter is slightly below normal for this area’s watershed.

He said that the water will be in the system and water deliveries will begin on March 30. He also said that water will be turned into the South Main next week in order to deliver OID’s commitment of VAMP (Vernalis Adaptive Management Plan, i.e. environmental) water via Modesto Irrigation District.

Knell noted that there may be a start and stop initially to the irrigation season depending on precipitation.

He also added that there will be a significant drop in New Melones reservoir storage this year due to new government guidelines, likely at half its volume. Some discussion amongst Knell and the board followed regarding the new bio opinion criteria and how the district expects New Melones to be “drained” once every five years and the legislative component to it. Knell said that as the district with most senior water rights, there’s concern that the OID will be tapped to take care of the fish.

“The biggest drought we’ve ever had: the drought of common sense in Washington,” offered OID director Steve Webb.

The timeline of the hiring of a water operations manager was also discussed. Interviews of three candidates were held March 12. Knell said there are two good possible candidates, but they are different. Each will be brought to the district for a half-day on April 8 and April 9 for further evaluation. Knell said that a selection will likely be made the following week and since each of the candidates is currently employed, it will probably be about a month later when the person is in place – in May. In the interim, Knell will act as water master.

In other business, the board approved the availability of surplus water for out-of-district lands, with no changes from last year. Knell added that staff is addressing the “fringe” parcels issue, and until the matter is resolved, availability of out-of-district water will be limited.

The board also approved that the 2010 water rates for out-of-district lands will be charged at the 2009 rate.

In the General Manager’s report, Knell gave an overview of his recent trip to Australia to visit the Rubicon Systems operations in several irrigation districts there. He said that he visited four irrigation districts in southeastern Australia and that Australia has been in drought for 12 years. Water conservation was encouraged/enforced and funded by the government early on in the drought. In the irrigation districts that installed the Rubicon systems, they went from upstream control, which is like OID’s current control, to downstream control where the system readjusts itself. In doing so, they eliminated spills. Knell said that OID spills are currently about 20,000 acre feet. Rubicon representatives will meet OID staff on March 19 with a couple of proposals on water control systems for OID.

He said that he will have a full presentation with photos to present to the board at the next regular meeting.

The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 6 in the OID boardroom, 1205 East F.

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