Farmers in the Modesto Irrigation District could get a 10 percent increase in water rates Tuesday.
The district board also could set the base allotment for water -- the amount available this year -- at the lowest rate. Because of continuing drought concerns, the proposed allotment is less than it would be during wet periods.
Under the rate proposal, farmers would pay $28 per acre for the base allotment, up from $25.50.
This would entitle them to three acre-feet of Tuolumne River water under the proposed allotment. An acre-foot is enough to cover an acre 1 foot deep.
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The plan calls for an additional half acre-foot of river water for $7, up from $6.38 last year. Water beyond that amount could be provided from district-owned wells, where available, for $20 per acre-foot.
The increase would help the district meet an expected $16.5 million in expenses for the water system this year, said a report to the board from Walter Ward, assistant general manager for water operations.
Under state law, the board could not increase the rates if a majority of the 2,800 or so affected landowners objected. The district mailed notices to them in January and as of Feb. 24 had received protests from 13, Ward said.
Farmers can protest during a public hearing Tuesday.
Winter storms have brought plenty of rain to the San Joaquin Valley, but the snowpack in the central Sierra Nevada is a little below average. The snow, some of which will melt into Don Pedro Reservoir on the Tuolumne, provides the bulk of the MID's water.
Ward said the runoff could be well below average because some of the storm water is seeping into mountain soil left dry by three years of drought.
Irrigation season typically starts about the end of winter but could be delayed if more storms blow in.
The board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the MID headquarters, 1231 11th St., Modesto.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2385.