Merced Irrigation District urges farmers to use water allocations before season ends

Officials with the Merced Irrigation District are urging growers to use all their water allocations by Sept. 15.

The irrigation season will end when Lake McClure’s level drops to 85,000 acre-feet of water. Irrigation water is measured per acre-foot, which is the amount of water it takes to cover an acre of land a foot deep, or about 325,900 gallons.

MID officials expect Lake McClure will reach the so-called “minimum pool” by about Sept. 15, which is nearly a week longer than original projections, General Manager John Sweigard said Wednesday.

“We could potentially go longer than that, but we won’t know for sure for a while longer,” Sweigard said. “We’re trying to give growers the information they need to they can schedule and plan the last of their irrigation water.”

Farmers were given the smallest water allocation this year that anyone with MID could remember, but it was still better than initially expected. Earlier this year, MID projected that each farmer would receive only about 6 inches of water per acre. However, MID cut a deal in April allowing growers to use another 30,000 acre-feet.

The district also raised the price of water for farmers from $20.25 to more than $100 per acre-foot, then lowered it $75.

Sweigard said farmers can get daily updates on Lake McClure levels and other irrigation information at the MID website, at