Water & Drought

Oakdale district considers plan to sell irrigation water

Proposals for fallowing farmland within the Oakdale Irrigation District so the irrigation water saved can be sold elsewhere -- including to a Fresno County water district -- will be discussed Tuesday.

Community objections derailed a similar OID fallowing plan in January. That proposal would have idled Oakdale farms to enable the district to sell water at high prices to drought-stricken farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

January's plan included the idea to pay Oakdale pasture owners $1,440 per acre so the water that normally would irrigate their fields would instead be sold to Fresno County's Westlands Water District.

Exactly what OID's leaders are proposing this time has not yet been revealed. The meeting agenda says the district's staff will present options for the board's review during the meeting, which starts at 9 a.m.

The new proposal could pay some OID landowners not to irrigate so that water could be sold to other landowners. Whether those other landowners would be within the district or outside the area is not specified in the agenda.

After Tuesday's presentation, OID's General Manager Steve Knell is expected to recommend the board direct his staff to develop "a framework for fallowing" land, possibly starting next year. That framework would have to be brought back to the board for final approval.

Tuesday's OID board meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the district's office, 1205 E. F St., Oakdale.