Turlock district again postpones start of irrigation

04/01/2014 5:29 PM

04/01/2014 8:57 PM

Thanks to the early spring storms, the Turlock Irrigation District has postponed the start of 2014 water deliveries until at least April 10.

The delay, announced Tuesday, could help farmers stretch a Tuolumne River supply that is expected to be tight because of the drought.

The Modesto Irrigation District, TID’s partner on the river, is scheduled to start deliveries Sunday, but that could be moved to a later date based on weather, spokeswoman Melissa Williams said Tuesday.

TID had first planned to begin its irrigation season March 27, then postponed it to Thursday of this week, and now April 10. The start could go to April 17, said Mike Kavarian, water distribution manager, at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“It all depends on what the forecasts are and what we hear from customers,” he said.

Board chairman Ron Macedo said he has heard from some farmers who would like to start canal deliveries now because they do not have the groundwater available to others.

Kavarian said those concerns are taken into account as the TID staff tries to balance the needs of the system. He said he does not want to fill up the canals quickly, only to have some farmers forgo water. TID has an open-ended system, so unused water spills out the ends of the channels and makes its way to the San Joaquin River.

The recent storms have not changed the water allotments. Farmers can get up to 20 inches per acre over the season, plus up to 4 inches if needed to complete the final irrigation in early fall. They have typically received 48 inches in years with adequate water.

The season is scheduled to end Oct. 8, but that could change, too.

TID serves about 150,000 acres in an area from south Modesto to north Merced County and from the lower Sierra Nevada foothills to the San Joaquin River.

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