Oakdale Irrigation District water rate change being proposed

The Oakdale Irrigation District provides some of the cheapest water in California, but a plan to increase how much farmers pay for it will be unveiled Tuesday morning.

The proposed rate increase is part of a state-mandated conservation effort that requires farmers to start paying for water based on how much they use.

OID now charges farmers a flat rate of $19.50 per acre, no matter how much water they use to irrigate their crops.

Its 2,800 landowners typically use about 4 acre-feet of water per acre. That means they’re essentially paying only about $5 per acre-foot of water.

State lawmakers, however, figure farmers will be less likely to waste water if they have to pay for every drop they take. The Water Conservation Act, passed in 2009, requires urban and agricultural water suppliers to implement assorted conservation efforts.

Measuring how much water flows to each farm and charging based – at least in part – on how much farmers take is becoming mandatory. OID’s new metered water rates will take effect in January.

Virtually every other irrigation district in the Northern San Joaquin Valley already charges based on the volume of water used. And most of them charge significantly more than OID does for irrigation water.

OID’s proposed new rates will be explained when its Board of Directors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at 1205 E. F St., Oakdale.

The board isn’t expected to vote on a new rate plan until August.