Water sale in works; district could run dry by July

By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

The South San Joaquin Irrigation District board Tuesday unanimously approved the potential sale of 2,400 acre-feet of water out of New Melones Reservoir to benefit Tuolumne County citizens.

The district, which supplies water to farmers and suburbanites in Manteca and Escalon, is negotiating the sale with Tuolumne County, the Tuolumne Utilities District and the Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians.

The TUD board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss what would be done with the extra water, though management says all of the parties have yet to reach an agreement.

Under the current proposal, SSJID would sell the water for $480,000, or $200 per acre-foot. That's well below current market prices for an acre-foot, which ranges from $400 to as much as $1,350. An acre-foot is an amount of water that would meet a two average households' annual needs - about 325,851 gallons.

The "humanitarian water transfer" must also be approved the California State Water Resources Control Board and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates New Melones Dam.

If the deal goes through, TUD could pump water from the reservoir between March and the end of September, per the terms of SSJID's water rights.

For the full story see today's Union Democrat.

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