By a 3-0 vote, the Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors approved moving forward with developing a cost estimate for a conceptual engineering plan for water service to the Paulsell Valley. The action came at the May 6 regular meeting. Director Steve Webb was absent and director Al Bairos was absent until after action items were complete.
The agenda item states that in an initial review, OID estimates that approximately 5,000 to 7,000 acres of Ag land could be served with between 24 inches to 32 inches of water in most hydrologic years. The amount of water could increase in the future as OID continues with implementation of its Water Resources Plan (WRP), and freeing up water capacity in the South Main Canal through efficiency improvements.
“This is a local benefit for us and the community,” said OID General Manager Steve Knell.
He added that surplus water would only be available, as it’s available. Also, the limiting factor for getting water to Paulsell is that there’s limited capacity in the South Main Canal and that there would probably be about three months during the irrigation season that Paulsell couldn’t receive water because the South Main would be at capacity with deliveries to in-district customers. Knell also said that the amount of water that could be delivered via surface methods would relieve the pressure on groundwater use in that area. He also acknowledged that there’s the possibility that the more water that’s delivered to that area could also result in even further land development that would end up using groundwater.
OID would use the services of CH2M Hill, which developed the district’s WRP and has done previous studies in the area of expanded water service to Paulsell Valley. There will be no cost to the district to prepare the estimate for development of the conceptual engineering plan and associated cost work-up.
In his General Manager’s Report, Knell said that various water “curtailment notices” are being distributed statewide by the state. He added that he thinks the state is finally starting to see that the drought could get worse. He noted that curtailment notices don’t really help in the Stanislaus Basin. He also said that the state doesn’t have the knowledge or staff to do actual enforcement on the notices, so it’s being handled on a by complaint basis from senior water rights holders, and he said that the Delta is a “quagmire of enforcement problems” and by looking at the Delta, no one would know that the state’s in a serious drought because everyone there just pumps water, regardless of their water rights, because all the curtailed water goes through it. He added that domestic water is the state’s highest priority.
Also in his report, Knell said since April 1, 170,000 acre feet of water has been “dumped” out of New Melones, with only 600 CFS (cubic feet per second) or less of inflow.
Knell also said that irrigation water use for the district is at 19,000 acre feet, which is less than last year at the same time. He said that the rain has helped with that and also the cold spells have helped with keeping evapotranspiration rates lower. He noted that at the next regular meeting, there will be discussion on whether or not to do 10-day rotations.
He also reported that Ron Berry was officially named the new General Manager of the Tri Dam Project, effective April 29. On May 13, a “table top exercise” on what to do if a dam fails for the Tri Dam facilities Emergency Action Plan will take place.
The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 20 in the OID boardroom, 1205 East F. The next regular joint board meeting of the Tri Dam Project is at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 15 in the South San Joaquin Irrigation District boardroom, 11011 East Highway 120, Manteca.