The Turlock Irrigation District (TID) was awarded a Beacon Leadership and Innovation Award at CSDA’s 2021 Annual Conference held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Monterey. TID is the first-ever special district to receive a Beacon Award for excellence in advancing environmental sustainability.
“TID is honored to be recognized for our water management operations through the 2021 Beacon Leadership & Innovation award for our leadership in climate resilience from the Institute for Local Government. Many may not associate an irrigation district with cutting edge technology, but TID is committed to harnessing the latest technology that will allow the district to make the most informed decisions, providing greater certainty to our customers, and ensuring that every last drop of water is being beneficially used,” said TID General Manager Michelle Reimers.
TID was recognized for its Water Management Operations Program, which is centered on stewarding water from the Tuolumne River through research, assessment and data-driven decision making to promote climate resilience
“TID is committed to being a good steward of the resources entrusted to us so that we are able to provide vital irrigation water to our growers while ensuring that the district is maintaining our commitment of caring for the river’s natural resources and sustaining a healthy river environment,” said Communication Specialist Lisa McMullen.
Nearly all of the water TID manages is for agriculture customers, and all of the water stored in Don Pedro is sourced from the snow pack of the Sierra Nevada. Utilizing data, TID is able to plan for dry and wet years and is able to confidently maintain carryover storage in dry years and mitigate over releasing in wet years. Technology used allows TID to manage the reservoir to ensure there will be enough water to meet FERC requirements each year, regardless of wet or dry conditions.
According to McMullen, TID has incorporated innovated technology to make fully informed water management decisions through private, state and federal partnerships. TID was able to pioneer the use of innovative technologies through its Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) program and Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) program, both of which support the enhancement of TID’s water management operations and has put TID on the path as a leader in climate resilience and adaptation practices.
Prior to this program, TID relied on information from 17 measurement points. Now, the new technology implemented through this program gives TID access to three billion measurements that allow water managers to make exacting decisions with 97 percent accuracy. These data-driven decisions help preserve the state’s water supply and serve all of its customers in a fair and just manner, said a press release.
“It is TID’s belief that all water management decisions should be made with a full understanding of California’s water budget, through science-backed data,” said McMullen. “The Airborne Snow Observatory program combined with atmospheric river data has been the best resource for accurate snowpack data and long-range precipitation forecasts, which has guided TID’s water management operations.”