You don’t need a calculator to figure that a reliable supply of surface water brings value to the region served by MID and TID. This value includes agriculture production, agricultural processing, ag-related business, economic base, groundwater recharge and affordable water. It was this very water that gave life to the region, and the loss of this water would threaten our region’s quality of life.
Let’s talk a look at 2015
A 2014 Socioeconomic Study shows the Don Pedro Project supports approximately $4.109 billion in economic output, $734.8 million in labor income, and 18,900 jobs in our region.
With Don Pedro’s value in mind, let’s talk about what 2015, the fourth year of a drought, would have looked like under the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan Phase 1 proposal (as proposed in the 2016 SED). Keep in mind, the numbers below are in addition to already-incurred drought impacts.
Farmers in both MID and TID would have received NO surface water in 2015 (based on what was proposed in the State Water Board’s 2016 SED). Our region survived the worst multi-year hydrological drought in state history. But can our region really survive a regulatory drought?
A threat to groundwater
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 shows that groundwater management is a priority for all Californians, especially lawmakers, regulators and the Governor. At least that’s what one might think, until you consider that the State Water Board is considering taking away a vast amount of surface water each year that could have otherwise recharged local groundwater basins.
For more than a century, MID and TID have employed conjunctive water management (surface water and groundwater used in a natural, interdependent manner) to keep groundwater quantity and quality sustainable. As a result, the Modesto and Turlock groundwater subbasins are the only two basins in the San Joaquin Valley that aren’t listed in conditions of critical overdraft. This proposal would severely hamper our region’s efforts to reach groundwater sustainability.
- Disadvantaged Communities: Flows described in the SED will negatively impact the 15 state-identified Disadvantaged Communities (DACs) that are within MID and TID’s combined electric service area.
- City of Modesto drinking water supply: MID treats, delivers and wholesales drinking water to the City of Modesto. The City receives the same water allocation at the same rates as MID’s agricultural customers. Therefore, any reduction to MID’s surface water will proportionally affect Modesto residents.
- Cities of Turlock and Ceres drinking water supply: TID agreed in 2015 to transfer surface water to the cities of Ceres and Turlock for municipal use because these cities solely rely on groundwater. The goal of the project (which is set to break ground summer 2018) is to supplement groundwater with treated surface water, but the State Water Board’s proposal would threaten the ability of residents to receive the benefit of this ag-urban partnership.
- Bay Area drinking water supply: MID and TID have a century-old working relationship with the City and County of San Francisco, which diverts water upstream of the Don Pedro Project on the Tuolumne River. Because of this relationship, the State Water Board’s proposal could result in negative impacts for 2.6 million Bay Area customers.
- Hydropower: Due to the proposed timing of the increased flows being proposed by the State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Plan, hydropower generation becomes less of an economical asset– MID and TID would be generating more power during months when electricity demand is lowest.
“I’ve heard that (the State Board) will be asking for 40 percent of unimpaired flows, which I will say will devastate our area.”
Senator Anthony Cannella, Senate Rules Committee, June 8, 2016