The ability to store water for regional reliability and sustainability as well as the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) plan for San Joaquin River basin flows were the primary topics of discussion at the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors’ Aug. 6 regular meeting.
The board discussed a letter sent by board president Frank Clark to the boards of Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission regarding TID’s and MID’s potential to store water this year. OID cannot store “leftover” water in New Melones, while the other two districts may have the capacity to store water in their systems and it could maximize the supply and storage of the water in the regionally connected systems.
OID General Manager Steve Knell said that TID stated no interest for this year, MID had several questions, and SFPUC expressed interest. Director Steve Webb said he didn’t mind helping MID or TID but wasn’t necessarily interested in helping San Francisco.
“What water we don’t use in this basin goes to the federal government,” Knell said.
In other discussion OID water attorney Tim O’Laughlin spoke to the board about the SWRCB Bay-Delta Program plan to take water out of the Stanislaus River to “fix” the Delta. He said that the SWRCB’s plan document was “so bad” that the agency decided to redo it and circulate it at the end of this year or early next year. However, he stated he’s heard that there aren’t many changes happening to the document and that the water board is still looking at a 35 percent to 40 percent unimpaired flow down the Stanislaus from February to June. He said that “New Melones is dropping like a rock” and that in a dry scenario, that reservoir which has a capacity of storing 2.4 million acre feet of water could get down to 700,000 acre feet.
Director Webb commented that the state is trying to get San Joaquin River tributaries to fix the Delta’s problems so they can then take the Sacramento basin’s water and send it to Southern California, adding that it’s grand water theft.
O’Laughlin reported that the cost to California taxpayers is significant in the SWRCB’s creation of this plan. He said that the agency began creating the plan in 2009 and came up with a 2,000-page report. He believed it would cost $4 million to $5 million to create but discovered he was wrong and the cost to this point has actually been $49 million, and the document must be redone.
O’Laughlin added that he, along with Knell and South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields were scheduled to have meetings on Aug. 6 in Sacramento about resolving issues on the Stanislaus with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and others.
There was also board discussion about the water rotation schedule of 10-day versus 12-day rotations and the effect the hot weather has on some farmers.
In other business, the board voted to cancel the Sept. 17 regular meeting due to the attendance of three directors and two staff members at the California Special Districts Association (CSDA) conference in Monterey. Knell said that the district gets a discount on insurance for having directors and staff attend the conference.
The board stated that a special meeting could be called on a different day if necessary to attend to OID business that couldn’t wait until the next regular meeting. There may also be a rescheduling of the regular Tri Dam joint board meeting on Sept. 19 but the board is deferring to the Tri Dam management to handle that.
Also in report items, OID Support Service Manager Gary Jernigan reported that the Two-Mile Bar Tunnel design is finalized and OID is awaiting the appropriate reviews. He said the bare cost of the project will be about $12.4 million. The total cost with contingencies built in, construction costs, OID costs, and other costs will bring it to about $15 million. Jernigan said the project will take about 18 months to do and will like have a June start and a March finish.
The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 20 in the OID boardroom, 1205 East F. The next regular joint board meeting of the Tri-Dam Project is at 9a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15 in the SSJID boardroom, 11011 East Highway 120, Manteca.