Oakdale’s Water Conservation Efforts Meet State Enforced Challenge

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OAKDALE-

The Oakdale Irrigation District’s efforts to save water in non-drought years are met with red tape, according to irrigation district officials.

The general manager with the agency claimed the Department of Water Resources has prohibited them from selling surplus water.

"Unfortunately, the white paper when it was all assembled affords little flexibility," Steve Knell, the general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District explained.

What’s preventing the irrigation district from selling off surplus water in non-drought years to districts outside of Oakdale is the Water Transfer White Paper from the Department of Water Resources.

"Just wrong, I mean, it just shouldn't be like that," Knell said. Knell said he received the document in early 2015.

The district added, they’re able to store enough water to sell off, the profits would then benefit water saving efforts.

"There is a significant amount of ag districts on that system that could benefit from water transfers," he said.

But DWR argued the restrictions are necessary claiming, “An overestimation of the amount of transfer water will result in the projects having to release additional reservoir storage to meet the water quality and flow objectives in the delta. Reservoir storage is already critically low."

They further stated that they're waiting for a transfer proposal from the Oakdale Irrigation District before they can take another step.

"That's why we have to reengage the state on this white paper. It just doesn't make sense," Knell said.

However, farmers will be able to transfer water within the district. Oakdale irrigation district directors voted on Tuesday and also voted in new water allotments for farmers within the area, as well as a drought surcharge for farmers of $6.10 an acre to help with the costs of groundwater pumping.