View Mobile Site

SSJID seeks to store water for 748,000 people

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED August 12, 2013 1:28 a.m.

South San Joaquin Irrigation District is pushing a plan to increase annual water storage by enough to serve the entire population of Sacramento and Stockton combined without costing a cent to do so.

The SSJID board Tuesday is expected to back an effort by Congressman Jeff Denman, R-Turlock, to get House of Representatives Bill 2554 passed.

The crux of the legislation is to allow SSJID and Oakdale Irrigation District to activate the two districts’ combined conservation account that’s part of the New Melones Reservoir storage as negotiated with the Bureau of Reclamation in 1988.

The conservation account was set aside for 100,000 acre feet. Based on calculations of the Department of Water Resources that a typical family of four living in a single family home with landscaping consumes 174,000 gallons of water a year, the move would capture enough water to support the equivalent of 748,000 people or the 2010 combined population of the cities of Sacramento and Stockton.

The water would likely be used for agricultural and urban purposes within and outside the districts

The SSJID and OID over the years have attempted to use the conservation  account included in the 1988 agreement that was made to allow the federal government to inundate the original Melones Dam built by the two districts when New Melones Reservoir was completed. The original Melones Dam built in 1926 gave the two district’s 112,500 acre feet of water storage.

The districts have noted the process set up by the 1988 agreement generated restrictions and conditions that have made access to the conservation  account infrequent and unreliable “despite the best attentions of the parties” including the Bureau.

A resolution being considered by the board when they meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the SSJID office, 11011 E. Highway 120 makes reference to the Warren Act. It is a federal law that allows the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to enter into contracts with non-federal entities enabling them to use underutilized federal facilities to store water. New Melones, due in part to snafus over the conservation account, is underutilized.

The Secretary of Interior has rebuffed the districts for several years when they have requested access to the storage via the Warren Act.

Denham’s legislation would force the Secretary of Interior to enter into a Warren Act agreement with SSJID and OID based on the conservation account.

In doing so, it would improve the reliability and flexibility of the Stanislaus River water supply that would benefit customers and landowners in both districts as well as other water purveyors in the San Joaquin Valley.

The two districts would have the ability to transfer all or part of that water to other districts in the San Joaquin Valley.

The 1988 agreement acknowledges the two districts’ superior water rights pre-dating 1914 to Stanislaus River watershed water.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...