The discussion of flows on the lower Tuolumne River will return to the Turlock Irrigation District boardroom Tuesday.
Directors will consider endorsing a proposal from San Francisco, another river user, that is an alternative to the major flow increases sought by a state agency for native salmon and steelhead trout.
The idea is familiar: The reservoir releases would not have to be so great if the plan also included measures such as enhancing spawning gravel and reducing predation by non-native bass. This has support from other water suppliers on the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers — all affected by the state plan.
San Francisco’s submission is based on extensive studies by TID and the Modesto Irrigation District. The MID board will likely make a similar endorsement at some point, spokeswoman Melissa Williams said Monday.
The State Water Resources Control Board proposed last September to boost flows to 40 percent of their predam volume from February through June each year. The agency staff estimated a 14 percent drop in water supplies in average years and 38 percent in “critically dry” times.
The state board took public comment until March 17 and now is working on a final plan that could be released in October, spokesman Tim Moran said. A final vote could come in December.
The state proposal would allow flows ranging from 30 to 50 percent of predam volume depending on specific conditions. During sometimes tense hearings last year, state board members said they were open to nonflow measures and to compromises urged by Gov. Jerry Brown.
San Francisco gets about an eighth of the Tuolumne’s typical flow and delivers it to about 2.5 million people in that city and parts of San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties.
The TID board will meet at 9 a.m. at the district office, 333 E. Canal Drive, Turlock.