The beleaguered Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) got more bad news this week when attorneys for rice farmer Robert Frobose claimed OID had hired an engineering firm to address its redistricting problems without first soliciting competitive bids for the job. Earlier this year, OID was found in violation of state requirements to change district boundaries based on updated census results. In response to the problem, OID hired CH2M Hill. CH2M Hill […]
FPPC Investigates OID’s Bairos
When he learned it had conducted a secret water sale, Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini called the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) a “rogue agency.” Shortly thereafter, OID General Manager Steve Knell paid for two-thirds of the OP/ED page in the Modesto Bee to defend his actions. For reasons known only to themselves, Bee editors and management didn’t point out the space was bought and paid for. Buying good publicity is […]
Did OID Violate the Brown Act?
Rice Farmer Robert Frobose has served the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) with documents including, “a formal Brown Act Violation letter of complaint and supporting documentation.” The Brown Act guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in public meetings. Frobose and many other farmers protested earlier this year when OID cut water allotments for senior members of the district even while delivering surface water to Tier II member Trinitas Partners. […]
Despite Sale, OID is Still Under Water
It was fascinating to read Janie Gatzman’s letter of support for the Oakdale Irrigation District’s (OID) water sale in Wednesday’s Modesto Bee. Alert readers will remember that late last June Gatzman wrote that farming “south of the Tuolumne River” had not caused, “significant impacts to downstream city wells.” Gatzman made her claim despite widespread knowledge of a huge cone of depression in the very area she claimed suffered no “significant […]
Water, History, and the Environment: Part II
History? Not around here… “Like most environmentalists, they want it all,” said Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) General Manager Steve Knell recently when discussing water rights along the Stanislaus River. Though absurd on the face of it, Knell’s claim represents a widespread belief throughout the San Joaquin Valley, where environmental illiteracy and historical amnesia have enabled private appropriation of public resources since the days of the gold rush. The simple fact […]
The Water Sale Mirage
Among the most sacred shibboleths of the water world’s power elite, none is more revered than the one that proclaims, “Water sales are wise and beneficial.” Of course, no member in good standing of water’s movers and shakers would ever refer to “water sales,” a vulgar and much too accurate description. The proper terminology is “water transfers.” As is often the case with euphemisms, the purpose is to conceal an […]
Water for Free?
“It’s almost like you live in Fairyland,” said Steve Knell last Thursday in a meeting in the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) boardroom. Knell is the district’s General Manager. He was responding to repeated queries from farmer Bob Frobose about OID’s apparent willingness to deliver water to Trinitas Partners while cutting back allotments for farmers with more senior water rights. Trinitas Partners, a consortium of investors led by three Bay Area […]
The Water Manager’s Grand Plan
The regional water summit in Modesto on January 16 had its share of high moments, but one of the most revealing came from Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) General Manager Steve Knell. Knell has been under pressure from local farmers and their supporters to keep OID water local. OID has a long history of water sales outside the region and its Board of Directors approved a proposed water sale to Westlands […]
Can the State Reverse Downward Trend of Groundwater Supplies?
“Why not do a mass balance?” said Vance Kennedy. “It’s unsustainable on the face of it.” Kennedy was speaking during a question and answer session with Doreen, “DeDe,” D’Adamo, a member of California’s State Water Resources Control Board. D’Adamo was in Oakdale last Wednesday to meet with members of the Stanislaus Water Coalition, a group concerned with groundwater issues in eastern Stanislaus County. Kennedy, a retired U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist, […]
Steve Knell Wants to Sell Water
Steve Knell is the general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District. He’s an advocate of water sales outside the district, and has presided over the sale of 382,408 acre feet of water over the last decade. Knell’s latest claims about groundwater suggest the problem of overdrafting has been exaggerated. “In OID’s portion of Stanislaus County, our data show groundwater, on average, was 74 feet below the surface 10 years ago. […]