“In light of drought and continuing water conditions,” the Oakdale Irrigation District will forgo 10-day irrigation rotations for the 2014 water season, which will also leave some water in the district’s “conservation account” at New Melones Reservoir, said OID General Manager Steve Knell at the June 3 regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors.
The board approved the decision to eliminate 10-day rotations this water year in a unanimous decision. Cancelling the 10-day rotations this year will save an estimated 7,000 acre feet of water.
According to the agenda, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates New Melones, provided an estimate on May 1 that inflow to New Melones for the 2014 water year is about 299,000 acre feet, under the 90 percent probability range. After adding in the OID’s ’88 agreement for “Formula Water,” the district’s allotment for the 2014 season would be 200,000 acre feet. Of that, about 10,000 acre feet was used in October 2013 as a final irrigation for that year but due to the time of the year, it’s taken from the next water year’s budget. OID’s full allotment of water annually, when conditions allow, is 300,000 acre feet.
Director Steve Webb commented that it makes him nervous to leave water in the reservoir because he doesn’t trust the federal government.
The OID board had adopted Level II drought measures in February to start the 2014 season, under which two 10-day rotations would be allowed, amongst other conservation measures. However, Knell said that even with potential for an El Niño event this winter, it doesn’t look promising because he said that sometimes El Niño bypasses this area.
New Melones is currently at 33 percent of its capacity. It has capacity to store up to 2.4 million acre feet of water.
In discussion items, Knell spoke to the board about water curtailment notices being sent out by the State Water Resources Control Board, especially the most recent round received on June 2 that affects post-1914 appropriative water rights holders. OID is a pre-1914 water rights holder; however, OID’s legal counsel anticipates that the state will issue the notices to pre-1914 rights holders statewide sometime around mid-June.
Knell said that over 5,000 notices were sent out and that when one looks at the enormity of what’s happening, he said there are a lot of enforcement issues that go with it.
The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 17 in the OID boardroom, 1205 East F. The next joint board meeting for the Tri-Dam Project is at 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 19, also in the OID boardroom.