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Turlock Irrigation District puts a cap on water use on farms

TURLOCK — The board of the Turlock Irrigation District put a cap on water use today out of concern about dry conditions.

Over protests from several farmers, the board voted unanimously to limit deliveries to 3 1/2 acre-feet of water per acre during the 2008 irrigation season. An acre-foot is enough to cover an acre to a depth of one foot.

Usually, farmers are free to use as much water as they want, as long as the pay the increased prices for water at higher volumes per acre. This year, there will be a firm cap.

The TID provides irrigation water in an area from south Modesto to north Merced County, and from the lower Sierra Nevada foothills to the San Joaquin River.

The Modesto Irrigation District, which serves the area just north of TID and shares its Tuolumne River supply, has not imposed a cap.

TID’s move is intended to provide a carryover supply at the end of the irrigation season in October, in case next year is dry.