Representatives with the Modesto Irrigation District will put off a decision again on a proposed water sale to the City and County of San Francisco.
MID spokeswoman Melissa Williams announced late last week that the MID Board of Directors will not consider the short-term sale of 2,240-acre-feet of water to San Francisco at today’s board meeting. The board will also hold off on a vote to initiate an environmental review for a larger agreement totaling up to 25,000-acre-feet.
The district board initially scheduled the vote for today’s meeting. However, Williams said in an email to The Union Democrat that district leaders and officials with the city of Modesto have had recent discussions on some concerns the city has about the sale.
“Since the City will not have an opportunity to discuss this issue internally prior to the scheduled July 24 MID meeting, it was decided that the water transfer should not be acted on until a later date,” she stated.
That date is still undetermined, according to MID.
The agreement, which has been discussed publicly for months, proposes selling the water to San Francisco at $700 per acre-foot, about 100 times the amount paid by most MID customers, with annual increases.
An acre-foot is the amount of water it would take to cover one acre a foot deep.
Revenues from the sale are expected to go toward financing $115 million in infrastructure improvements identified as necessary by the districts and prevent a stiff rate increase. Those infrastructure improvements are expected to lead to more water in the MID canal system, according to the district.
Both MID and San Francisco pull their water from the Tuolumne River — San Francisco from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and MID from Don Pedro. MID representatives have said improvements to their system will make it more efficient, freeing up the water. However, environmental and agricultural interests are both wary of the sale.
The agreement has seen multiple delays in recent months. MID held off a vote scheduled for sometime in June while the parties continued to negotiate. In April, San Francisco pushed it back after a letter from the Tuolumne River Trust to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission criticized the transfer. The organization is seeking a separate environmental review for this water sale.
MID and SFPUC representatives say a review on the initial transfer is not necessary, but is covered under an environmental review conducted in 2008 for San Francisco water system improvements.