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Oakdale Irrigation District outlook remains murky

Farmers showing up Tuesday morning to say their piece about irrigation leaders’ watering plan this year won’t have much to go on.

Three weeks ago, the Oakdale Irrigation District board said it would consider capping water deliveries for the first time. Officials said they would outline a proposal – assumed to include water amounts and penalties for taking too much – in advance of Tuesday’s public hearing, where the board would hear growers’ thoughts.

But the drought has kept everyone guessing how much water OID will get in the season that started three weeks ago. Officials will present options Tuesday morning, according to a pre-meeting report.

OID customers historically have received as much surface water as they want, but this year’s supply is uncertain. OID and its partner on the Stanislaus River, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, reached a compromise with federal officials that they say would benefit both agriculture and fish, but it’s subject to approval by state water officials, who last week asked the districts for more information, putting the deal in limbo.

The OID board meeting begins at 9 a.m. at 1205 E. F St., Oakdale.

The board is scheduled to reconvene at 1 p.m. Tuesday to interview Gary Osmundson for a board vacancy representing areas southwest of Oakdale. A second applicant, Albert Deniz, did not qualify, for an undisclosed reason.

Osmundson, 40, is best known as an assistant football coach at Oakdale High, where he was a star player in the early 1990s. He has operated a local dairy for 17 years.

He seeks to replace Jack Alpers, who resigned in February for “serious health issues” after missing seven months of board meetings. The winner in a November election will serve the remaining two years of Alpers’ term.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or (209) 578-2390.

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