Details on Oakdale-to-Bay Area water sale emerge

09/16/2012 6:51 PM

09/16/2012 6:57 PM

Details have emerged about the proposed sale of Oakdale Irrigation District water to the tiny Bay Area city of Brisbane.

The district would sell up to 2,400 acre-feet from its Stanislaus River supply each year, according to a tentative “term sheet” to be discussed at Tuesday’s board meeting.

This would come out of the roughly 40,000 acre-feet the OID has available because two previous water transfers — to Stockton-area domestic users and to river fishery flows — have ended.

For the first five years, Brisbane would pay $500 for each acre-foot it uses each year, with annual increases to reflect inflation. It also would pay $100 per acre-foot for anything not used from the total available.

From the sixth year on, Brisbane would pay $500 per acre-foot plus the inflation increases for an amount of water yet to be determined, but not exceeding 2,400 acre-feet.

OID’s farmers pay a flat $19.50 per acre, which provides as much water as can be reasonably used. The contract would have an initial term of 50 years but could be renewed for 25-year periods. The draft says the supply “will not be reduced on an annual basis by OID for any reason, unless by mutual agreement of the parties.” OID General Manager Steve Knell proposes an Oct. 2 board vote on the term sheet. Negotiation of a final contract would follow, as would study of the sale’s effects on the environment.

The Brisbane City Council will consider approving the term sheet Monday evening.

The proposal comes amid the controversy over the Modesto Irrigation District’s proposed sale of Tuolumne River water to San Francisco, which is just north of Brisbane.

Brisbane, which has about 4,300 people, gets its current supply from San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System on the Tuolumne.

MID’s first proposed sale would involve up to 2,240 acre-feet of water a year at a starting price of $700 per acre-foot.

The proposal has been fiercely debated over the past year. Critics say it could leave Modesto-area farmers and domestic users short during dry years. Supporters say there is enough water to go around and the income could help with canal system upgrades.

MID and San Francisco also have discussed a sale of up to 25,000 acre-feet per year — water that would be freed up by conservation projects on the canals.

The OID-Brisbane deal would not be a direct sale of water. Instead, it would require agreement by several parties to take these steps:

An amount of Stanislaus water equal to the Brisbane purchase would be shifted by OID to MID via a connection between their systems.

MID would let an equal amount be held back in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, upstream of the district’s diversion.

The Hetch Hetchy system would deliver extra water to Brisbane.

Brisbane would use most of the water for the proposed Baylands development, a major project on the city’s east side, according to a city staff report issued Friday.

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