OAKDALE — Farmers could face higher water bills and receive less water, according to an agenda for Tuesday’s Oakdale Irrigation District board meeting.
OID leaders also will consider drought-related restrictions, when to start the irrigation season and the always contentious issue of transferring water outside the district.
Recent board meetings have been lively, with public pressure forcing leaders three weeks ago to abandon the idea of selling water for $400 an acre-foot to the Fresno-based Westlands Water District.
Tuesday, board members will review a report declaring that the current charge of $19.50 per acre for water is “$110 below the inflationary adjusted rate” compared to what was charged in 1979. The charge allows a farmer to use any amount of water per acre, within reason.
Staff will recommend starting the irrigation season March 3, a report says, and pumping as much groundwater as the district’s wells possibly can to help augment a lack of water because of the drought.
OID has had a relatively easy time during most of the drought, which started in 2012, thanks to past conservation projects and strong water rights. The district sold 40,000 acre-feet last year to several districts in the western and southern San Joaquin Valley. The South San Joaquin Irrigation District, OID’s partner in a few Stanislaus River reservoirs and hydropower plants, did an identical sale.
The conditions are far worse this year. The snowpack in the central Sierra Nevada stood at 34 percent of average Sunday, the California Department of Water Resources reported. That is much-improved from the 12 percent in late January but still far from what’s needed.
The OID board meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the district office, 1205 E. F St., Oakdale. For details, go to www.oakdaleirrigation.com/files/Agenda%2002-18-14.pdf.