Westlands Water District farmers will buy some precious river water from Oakdale Irrigation District in Stanislaus County at $128 per acre-foot, a recent news story reported.
But that’s not what Westlands farmers will pay, says a local water engineer. That’s how much Oakdale Irrigation will get.
The bill for Westlands farmers will be more like $350 to $375 per acre-foot. There are a number of additional costs to get the water to Westlands through the vast canal system in California.
But that’s a cost of doing business this dry year. Farmers are in the grip of a second consecutive dry year and suffering water cutbacks for threatened fish species . Westlands will get only 20% of its contractual allotment from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
What would farmers pay for the contractual water? It’s $48.50 per acre-foot. But with additional delivery costs and fees, farmers pay closer to $129.
Clearly, they are forced to pay much bigger prices in a year like this.
In the Oakdale Irrigation District deal, Westlands will buy 40,000 acre-feet of Stanislaus River water if it’s available. At $350 per acre-foot, farmers would spend $14 million.
That won’t come close to covering the shortfall in Westlands, where the contractual allotment is more than 1.1 million acre-feet annually.
For those who were curious, one acre-foot of water is about 326,000 gallons of water, enough for an average Valley family for 12 to 18 months.