Jack McBride: No wonder the water goes to farmers

July 5, 2014 

Modesto’s nonfarmers need to see more front-page stories like “Rush to drill is uneven” (Page A1, June 29), about how Turlock Irrigation District is sucking folks’ residential wells dry; and the story regarding the OID board’s sweetheart deal with one of its members (“OID’s fees for services adjusted,” Page B1, July 3).

The problem with all the irrigation district boards is that they are dominated by farmers. Four of five of the Modesto Irrigation District board members are farmers. Unfortunately, they are usually the only people who run for these positions so it’s not surprising that all the nonfarm customers end up subsidizing their interests.

Like TID, MID is also pumping water into the canals. There is an MID well just east of McHenry Avenue and south of Highway 108 that I walk past. Most days, its 16-inch pipe is pouring groundwater into the adjacent canal. There is a private well in a flood-irrigated orchard within 50 yards of the MID well not being used. It’s probably cheaper to use MID’s water.

Soon it won’t be about just the price of water, but whether large swathes of homes will have any water available. To paraphrase Herb Caen, “Modesto is a great place to live if you’re an almond tree.”

Jack McBride, Modesto

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