Tuolumne County Farm Bureau has been working with TUD for well over 5 years to reduce the hookup fee for Ag water. I’ve been personally working on it for 3 years and there have been many meetings, roughly 40 a year that I attend to stay on top of the issue. We finally started making progress with help from California Farm Bureau Federation’s legal team doing an analysis of government code 66000 (the mitigation fee act), which is the law for that governs hook up fees. Even with the legal analysis in hand progress was slow, but we were able to sway some of the TUD board members in our favor. The process continued to get TUD staff to recognize our legal analysis as correct and with help from TUD board member Dr. Ralph Retherford we started to win staff over. Then it came down to pure negotiating between Tuolumne County Farm Bureau and TUD. I received clear direction from our board and that’s what I went by to write a proposal that TUD accepted and voted in favor of in November of 2009.
This proposal sets the hookup fee for Commercial Ag water at $3074 per miner’s inch. It also defines commercial agriculture with help from Vicki Helmar. It also outlines months of usage. The biggest achievement in this process was that from here on out any water purchased under these provisions is Ag water in perpetuity.
The fight isn’t over though. We need to stay active in local and state water issues so these provisions can remain for many years. The unsettling water issues in the state don’t leave any Ag water user safe. County farm bureaus and CFBF need to keep working on a better future.
Sasha J. Farkas