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Irrigation Season Status Update
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The Oakdale Irrigation District brought water into its canal system on Saturday, March 15 to prepare for the start of the irrigation season, as reported by OID General Manager Steve Knell at the March 18 regular meeting of the Board of Directors. The season was initially planned to start on March 3 but rains allowed for the delay. It was reported that there were no major issues and only one minor issue with tumbleweed when bringing water into the canals.

Water deliveries started in some divisions on March 18 and March 19 will see all divisions start. The first rotation is proposed to be an 18-day rotation but the district expects to get through it in 12 days. Knell added that they are going to watch to see what the weather will do.

Knell shared with the board that the state’s Department of Water Resources is optimistic that the runoff will be at 80 percent reliability at 320,000 acre feet April through July, making total inflow to New Melones Reservoir around 480,000 acre feet. He reported that 480,000 acre feet is pretty good, and in that case OID would get 260,000 acre feet, which would include “formula water.” That scenario would be good for next year, with a buffer left in OID’s conservation account at New Melones. OID’s full allotment of water in a normal year would be 300,000 acre feet.

However, Tri-Dam has done its own evaluation, Knell said, and feels the number may be closer to 400,000 acre feet. At 400,000 acre feet, OID will receive 233,000 acre feet and would have to use about half the amount in its conservation account to meet shortfalls.

Knell added that 450,000 acre feet is the turning point. According to the agenda information, any amount of inflow over 450,000 acre feet closes the door on the use of OID’s conservation account. Knell noted that peak runoff is usually the last week in June; however, this year it is expected to be late April.

Knell later said that by not offering 10-day rotations in OID, the district can save about 7,000 to 8,000 acre feet of water. He said 10-day rotations best serve those with sandy soils or poorly compacted soils, which amount to 10 percent to 15 percent of the district. He added that the other 85 percent of the district then over-irrigates and ends up filling the drains. He said that this was something for the board to consider. Director Herman Doornenbal commented that he felt it’d be easier to manage 12-day rotations.

Knell reported that at the upcoming Tri-Dam Project meeting, they will talk strategy on how to manage the upper reservoirs this year in order to plan for next year. That meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 20 in the boardroom at South San Joaquin Irrigation District, 11011 East Highway 120, Manteca.

The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors is at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 1 at the OID boardroom, 1205 East F.