PurposeTo obtain and deliver a surface water supplies for the purpose of agricutlural irrigation in the District and for groundwater recharge efforts within the basin underlying the District. The District must also operate and maintain 330-miles of canal and approximatley 30 miles of pipeline along with 1,110 acres of groundwater recharge/regulation basins.
AuthorityThe Tulare Irrigation District is a political subdivision of the State of California - an independent agency operating under the California Water Code. The District it is governed by a five-member Board of Directors that represents geographic areas within the District.
State of OrganizationThe District delivers surface water to approximately 230 farms. The exterior boundary of the District encompasses an area of approximately 77,000 acres (including the City of Tulare which is not part of the District). Thererfore, the net District acreage is approximately 70,000 acres.
Ongoing ActivitiesThe ongoing activities within the District generally include:
- Rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and water conveyance systems.
- Expansion of groundwater recharge efforts.
- Pursuit of water management opportunities with other entities and districts to maximize water supplies and reduce the cost of water to landowners.
- Exploration and pursuit of additional water sources for the District.
- Training of District personnel in the operations and distrubution of surface water to minimize water losses and provide optimal service to landowners.
- The implementation of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems to enhance water management capabilities and minimize the loss of surface water.
- Maximization of energy generation at the Terminus Hydropwer Plant.
HistoryThe Tulare Irrigation District was organized September 21, 1889. The original proposal for the formation of an irrigation district covering 219,000 acres, extending from the Sierra Nevada foothills to Tulare Lake, was eventually reduced to 32,500 acres. The District continued in this status until January of 1948 when the so-called Kaweah Lands" (approximately 11,000 acres) were annexed.
In October of 1948, approximately 31,000 acres, compromising the area served by the Packwood Canal Company were annexed to the District.
In the early days of the District's history, $500,000 in bonds were issued. About half was expended for construction of diversion works on the St. Johns River, the main canal heading at the river (including a large flume over the river), together with the purchase of water rights of the Kaweah Canal and Irrigation Compnay, Rocky Ford Canal and Irrigation Company, and Settlers Ditch Company. The remainder was used for canal construction within the District. The financial difficulties of early 1890's caused a setback, and attacks on the legality of the formation of the District, and the legality of the bonds made matters worse. By 1895, most of the landowerns had begun to default on payment of District assessments. For a number of years, the District practically ceased operating, although water was kept running in the canals. During this period, the litigation over the bonds continued, and economic conditions in both Tulare and the surrounding country reached a low ebb.
After negations with the bondholder, it was found possible to retire the bonds at approximately $0.50 on the dollar, and an assessment of 36 percent of the valuation was made for this purpose. The debt was finally cleared by payment of $273,075 and the bonds were publicly burned on October 17, 1903. The District today has no bonded indebtedness. For many years after the retirement of the bonds, the District operated on a system of water tolls, but the annual levying of assessments was resumed in 1918.
A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contract was signed in 1950 providing an annual supply of 30,000 acre-feet of Class 1 water, and up to 141,000 acre-feet of Class 2 water from the Friant-Kern Canal. After the annexations of the "Kaweah" and "Packwood" lands and the commencement of the diversion of the Central Valley Project water, the District proceeded with extensive improvements to the existing canals system, and the extension of the canal system to serve annexed areas. This work consisted of enlarging and/or relocating canals, construction diversion structures, road crossings, checkgates, siphons, installing pipelines, etc. The majority of this work occurred between 1951-1964.
Since the completion of Terminus Dam in 1962, Kaweah River water rights owners have benefited by the regulation of the natural river flows - temporary storage of flood waters, uniform downstream releases, and options on the time and quantity of irrigation diversions.
The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD) and the Tulare Irrigation District (TID) formed a joint-power authority in 1982 - the Kaweah River Power Authority (KRPA). The KRPA filed for a license to construct a 17MW hydroelectric plant at Terminus Dam and Lake Kaweah. KRPA proceeded with design and construction of the plant, and the plant went online in 1992 delivering power to Southern California Edison Company.
The District and KDWCD also have coordinated efforts to enhance the recharge of groundwater with the Kaweah Basin. During high flow times KDWCD may use the recharge basins with the District for recharge purposes. Futher, KDWCD has historically provided for a financial incentive program through which the District sustains the level of groundwater recharge from supply sources into the District. This historical program was recently reinstated by both districts in lieu of the District's plans to concrete-line this canal to conserve the surface water.
DISTRICT MANAGEMENT TEAMJ. Paul Hendrix