Doornenbal Has My Support
I live in OID’s Division 2, where Don Taro is challenging Herman Doornenbal for a seat on the OID Board of Directors. I received a mass email from Mr. Taro urging me to cast my vote-by-mail ballot. Sadly, the email contained so many inaccuracies and false claims, it led me to question Mr. Taro’s suitability for the OID Board and compelled me to write this letter.
Mr. Taro claims OID has been “exporting” our surface water to outside buyers, while “pumping down our groundwater supply,” putting the “quality and quantity of our drinking water at risk.” This opinion, expressed without any supporting facts, evidences a poor understanding of OID’s water operations, and the community benefits we have all enjoyed as a direct result of OID’s operations.
Consider the facts, according to OID’s Ag Water Management Plans prepared by an independent consultant and filed with the State: Annual seepage from OID canals and drains into the aquifer (recharge) has increased from 27,368 acre-feet in 2001 to 42,050 acre-feet in 2016, thanks to infrastructure upgrades. In the same time period, OID pumped an average of 7,154 acre-feet per year at constriction points in the canal system, to ensure adequate water reaches parcels near the end of heavily-used water lines. The facts show that OID’s own operations put nearly 5 times more water back into our local aquifer, on average, than it pumps for operational purposes.
In addition, the surface water OID delivers to in-district properties further supports the aquifer we all use for drinking water.
As for water “exports,” again, the facts do not support the claims. From 1998-2016, OID/SSJID ended every water year with surplus water – water that went unused by local farmers – even in years where water sales occurred. Water that isn’t used locally or sold at the end of the year doesn’t stay in our basin; we lose it to the Feds for free who then release it downriver. Water sales have never impacted the amount of surface water delivered locally; rather they reduce the amount that is lost to the Feds for free, while bringing in revenue to pay for infrastructure upgrades that have allowed the district to modernize deliveries, expand enrolled acreage, and increase recharge to our local aquifer.
Mr. Doornenbal has shown results he can be proud of during his tenure on the board. I trust Herman to continue to ensure that both our farming operation and the small pasture that houses our kids’ horse and cows will continue to receive a reliable source of low-cost water, and the well that our family depends on for drinking water will have a healthy aquifer to tap. I urge you to join my family in voting for Herman Doornenbal for OID’s Division 2.
Let’s Finish Draining OID Swamp
It is time we voters finished draining the OID swamp of the “Good Old Boys” club of elected directors. We achieved an excellent beginning in 2015 with the election of Gail Altieri and Linda Santos by replacing a former board member who had served for over 12 years. Unfortunately 2017 was occupied with the attempted ouster of Ms. Santos in a vicious campaign by fellow board members and Secretary Steve Knell. Having attended and speaking at several board meetings over the past year it was apparent that the progress on several important issues before the board were seriously hindered by the animosity towards the two female members by their male counterparts. I concur completely with recent articles in both the Modesto Bee and The Oakdale Leader by Damon Woods which stated: “A new board will help to focus OID on being a benevolent agency for all the citizens of this area – not just the favored few.”
Grover Francis, having been a former board member several years ago, definitely has prior experience. Don Taro understands the importance of maintaining water as an integral necessity of the Agricultural Industry so necessary to this valley. Why opt for an unknown candidate such as Brad DeBoer? I urge you to vote for Grover Francis and Don Taro on November 7.
Richard E. Jorgensen
Fresh Start Is Possible
Our community has a golden opportunity to start fresh and rise above the past acrimony on the OID board of directors, by electing Brad DeBoer for the open seat in Division 5. Mr. DeBoer has a solid business background, owning and operating a successful landscape business for 30 years and having decades of experience running his own farm. He will bring the same acumen that has allowed him to be successful in business to the board, helping OID move past its internal discord and concentrate on its core mission of protecting our water rights and delivering a high volume of water to our community at a low cost, which in turn keeps our aquifer strong and delivers benefits to all.
Grover Francis, who is running against Mr. DeBoer, has stated in social media posts that “OID needs to stop exporting our surface water to outsiders.” Yet, in the four years Mr. Francis was previously an OID director, he voted for out-of-district water sales each of the eight times water sales to buyers outside our local basin were considered. Why did he support outside water sales as an OID director, but speaks against it now? How does misleading voters as to his record on water sales promote the transparency he calls for on the board?
Mr. Francis also now claims in public debate that he is “a great leveler, someone who can bring stability back to the board.” Yet, the board minutes of the September 2000 meeting detail a heated argument between Mr. Francis and Director Price, accusing Mr. Francis of spending 73 percent more than the other directors on travel to conferences paid for by OID. Mr. Francis was further questioned on the legality of his practice of volunteering to be “bumped” on return flights, in exchange for free airline vouchers which he admittedly later used for personal travel. The exchange ends with Director Webb calling for “more harmony on this board,” which, unfortunately, 17 years later he has yet to see.
Mr. Francis’s past record as an OID director stands in stark contrast to his states reasons for asking for another term.
Mr. Francis has had his turn on the OID board. It’s time for our community to start fresh, by electing Brad DeBoer as the director for OID’s Division 5.