The Oakdale Irrigation District Board of Directors chose to table an action item regarding the list of selected parcels for annexation at its Feb. 5 regular meeting. The item will come back before the board at the Feb. 19 regular meeting. OID General Manager Steve Knell said the board wants to make refinements to the selection criteria for the annexation, possibly by implementing a variance to increase the available water for annexed lands.
Owners of several “fringe” parcels in the district that were offered the opportunity to apply for annexation and chose not to do so freed up the water that had previously been used to irrigate those 386 acres without authorization. Because of the newly available water in OID, other applicants were being considered for annexation. Certain criteria with assigned points were part of the selection process. Six parcels totaling 382 acres met the criteria; however, there was also one other applicant, farmer Jack Hoekstra, whose parcel met most criteria and has some other points in its favor, ranking second in the points system.
Hoekstra’s family operation has had an out-of-district agreement for water for five years and has been trying to annex to the district for some time. He has 430 acres but currently irrigates just 200 of those acres, Knell said.
The OID policy, as it currently stands, requires the whole parcel to be annexed.
Knell reported that Hoekstra uses about three acre feet of water per acre, so a total of 1,290 acre feet needs to be “set aside” to irrigate the whole property. Though, technically, Hoekstra wouldn’t require the use of all that water until the property was further developed (for Ag). Hoekstra’s property is 44 acres more than the 386 acres-worth of water available through the fringe parcels “account.”
Knell said the district has the water to annex Hoekstra if some surplus water is pulled from the municipal transfers (sales) “account.” However, the board has to make that decision. Knell reported that Hoekstra wishes to develop the rest of the property but that is planned at a later time.
Previously, OID supplied 41,000 acre feet of water in transfers (sales). Those contracts have expired and not been renewed. With a major annexation of the Trinitas Group property, 25,000 acre feet has been allocated to that endeavor, with some caveats. Therefore, 16,000 acre feet of water that was previously part of contract water is left over, Knell said. That “surplus” water was intended for high-dollar municipal water sales (transfers). If the board chooses, to cover Hoekstra’s 44 acres that are beyond the 386 acres-worth of fringe water, at three acre feet per acre to irrigate, it would amount to 132 acre feet of water being allocated from the 16,000 acre feet of surplus in the transfers account.
In discussion items, the board talked about the Two-Mile Bar tunnel design, permit status, and advancing the construction process. Knell said the board wants to move forward with the tunnel on the district’s South Main Canal to bypass a high hazard area, especially in light of the major rockfall that took place recently in the North Main Canal, which is controlled by OID’s sister district South San Joaquin Irrigation District. The South Main has been considered to be more unstable and a greater hazard than the North Main. SSJID has been doing work on the North Main and was glad that it didn’t occur during irrigation season.
Knell said that OID has been planning on the tunnel work for five years and has all permits in place, except for one they still need from the Army Corps. Noting the instability of the canyon where the area of the South Main is in question, Knell said that the OID board is asking themselves if they want to take $15 million out of reserves now and build the tunnel. If the Army Corps permit is granted in the expected time frame and the board chooses to move forward, Knell reported the project could potentially go to bid in July.
“We have to cut bait or fish on the tunnel in June,” he added.
Knell said that this discussion will continue to periodically show up on board agendas, and per his comment above, the board is expected to reach a decision by June.
The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the OID boardroom, 1205 E. F St. The next joint board meeting for the Tri-Dam Project is slated for 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, also in the OID boardroom.