On behalf of the Turlock Irrigation District board of directors, I am grateful for The Bee’s recent editorial (“Hammer falling on everyone who relies on our rivers,” Sept. 18, Page 1D) in support of TID and the entire region.
The editorial outlined numerous flaws in the State Water Resources Control Board’s most recent efforts to increase river flows at great expense to our economy, our environment and our way of life.
TID board members stand united in their objection to the state water board’s proposal.
We have spent hundreds of hours with staff and experts preparing our strategy to address this grave threat to our region. Individual board members have participated in various roles defending our historic water rights that have been a catalyst behind the economic engine of this region.
All individual board member efforts have been undertaken with the support and collaboration of the entire TID board. Leaders from Modesto Irrigation District, our longtime partner on the river, have also participated regularly as we share with key decision-makers in Sacramento our substantial scientific evidence that non-flow measures have the potential to yield positive results for the fishery.
These efforts will continue as we pursue a variety of political, legal and negotiated solutions.
Recognizing the severity of the drought and desiring to pilot the most modern canal mechanization system in the world, we unanimously voted to double water rates in 2015.
I am thankful for the support TID received from the farming community as we asked growers to shoulder the financial burden of such a large project that resulted in substantial water savings for the district while also allowing us to gather data as we consider broader implementation, should funding be available in the future.
Regarding flow management, when our aquatic biologist expressed concerns during the worst of last year’s drought, our board unanimously supported voluntarily releasing additional water in excess of the required river flows to protect returning salmon.
For further proof of TID’s commitment to science-based stewardship, with our partners MID and the city and county of San Francisco, the three agencies collectively have invested more than $25 million to study the Tuolumne River in recent years. Collectively, our agencies possess the best available, most recent science studying the Tuolumne River.
TID remains committed to following sound science, rather than shortsighted regulatory assumptions, wherever it takes us to safeguard and improve our region’s most valuable resource – the Tuolumne River.
The state water board’s proposal, if approved as unveiled last week, will fundamentally alter our quality of life in this part of the Valley. The state water board thinks that negatively impacting this region’s livelihood with such a broad stroke is simply collateral damage en route to its version of a Pollyanna Bay-Delta that will never come.
Tossing more water at the problem has failed to fix the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta thus far. Now the state water board wants to toss our region’s water at the problem on a hope it will fix things. That seems awfully wasteful to us, especially when success is not guaranteed. This is why you see TID and MID, working closely with other irrigation districts, our cities and counties and community groups to stand united as we raise this issue and voice our concerns at the state level.
Never in our lifetime has this region faced a water supply threat of this proportion.
Visit WorthYourFight.org for more information and to learn about ways you can help.
Joe Alamo is the president of the Turlock Irrigation District board of directors. He wrote this for The Modesto Bee.