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OID Creates New Job
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The Oakdale Irrigation District is at a point in modernization and automation of its canal facilities that it needs to hire a technological person to manage and maintain its control and data acquisition (SCADA) sites, said OID General Manager Steve Knell at the Jan. 4 regular meeting of the Board of Directors. The board unanimously approved a new staff position for an information technology/SCADA coordinator.

The wage for the position will be in the range of $30.96-$38.70 per hour. Knell said that the district set the wage based on information collected from ACWA, CSDA, and wages in Stanislaus County for similar positions. There are approximately 100 similar positions in the county, he said, adding that anyone who has automation, such as canneries, has these types of positions. He also said that the district has some very interested candidates.

With the district’s Total Channel Control (TCC) pilot program with Rubicon Systems, OID will add 28 new SCADA sites on the Claribel and Cometa canals, bringing the total installed sties at OID to more than 50.

This position will be the first in a series of hires over the coming years to meet the district’s technical needs. OID currently relies on outside consultants in Nevada to deal with its SCADA installations, software maintenance and troubleshooting. In 2010, the district paid approximately $65,000 in labor to a consultant. The consultant’s response time of six hours is problematic if emergency situations arise during irrigation season.

Also, there’s an increased need for tech support in the OID office due to increased personnel. In these cases, the consultant requires two weeks of lead time for scheduling to troubleshoot a problem in the network or a user’s problem that can’t be fixed in-house, which is performed on a $25,000 per year contract.

Knell noted that the end goal of technology will reduce operations staff and the district will reduce the manpower needs of the district through attrition. This will take place over a period of several years, he said.

In discussion items, Knell provided an educational review to the board about the operational rule curves for New Melones, Tulloch Reservoir, and other eastside reservoirs. These rule curves set the parameters that govern reservoir/dam operations. In the discussion, Knell and the board members also talked about how to recapture excess water that is released from the reservoirs during especially rainy seasons, such as this season. They said the district has the facilities to divert excess water that is released during the winter months, but needs more basins to hold it. This type of storage would allow for the recharging of groundwater basins and aquifers. Comments were also made that a lack of storage basins to recapture excess water is a problem all over California.

The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the OID boardroom, 1205 East F.