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MID water season about to end in Merced

The irrigation season is coming to a close for growers connected to the Merced Irrigation District.

The district will accept final water requests until 5 p.m. Wednesday. The irrigation season will end midnight Oct. 18, and out-of-season water will be available on a limited basis beginning the next day.

The state faces one of the driest years in recorded history, and MID felt it as much as anyone. Mike Jensen, an MID spokesman, said despite that, growers and the district were able to cooperate and communicate to make the best of it.

“Under the circumstances, it was a successful season,” he said. “It was not an easy season.”

Lake McClure is reaching the 85,000 acre-feet “minimum pool” limit. Irrigation water is measured per acre-foot, which is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land a foot deep, or about 325,900 gallons. The California Fish and Wildlife Service supported MID’s petition to lower the water to that minimum pool level in April, from the normal 115,000 acre-feet.

The demand for water at this point in the year has decreased, Jensen said, as the growing season winds down.

Jensen said there are many predictions for the coming rainy season, but MID steers clear of checking a crystal ball.

“There’s just no way to speculate,” he said.

MID continues to look at options for increasing water storage, he said.