A committee of unknown size and makeup will advise the Modesto Irrigation District board on water system needs.
The board voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve the concept and to discuss at a later date just how the committee will be formed.
The vote grew out of the board's decision last month to end negotiations on selling water to San Francisco, which could have covered major upgrades proposed for the MID canal system.
The committee could include farmers, environmentalists and Modesto-area domestic users, as well as MID power customers, who subsidize some of the water system costs.
"I think that the input we get from the committee would be invaluable in making decisions," board member Glen Wild said.
He was joined in the vote by Larry Byrd, Nick Blom and Tom Van Groningen. Board member Paul Warda was absent.
The committee would advise the board on operation of the canals, supplied by the Tuolumne River, and on improvement projects.
MID staff has listed about $115 million in projects over a dec-ade. They include small reservoirs to catch water that flows out the canal ends projects that would have freed up water for diversion by San Francisco upstream on the river.
The water sale proposal ran into fierce protest from people concerned that the district would run short in dry years. San Francisco had agreed to pay about 70 times what MID farmers pay this year in the first, relatively small sale.
Critics of the sales hinted Tuesday that they do not want to see the new committee dominated by people still hoping to sell water to San Francisco.
"The political part of this is what concerns me," former Modesto Mayor Carmen Sabatino told the board.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2385.