Byron, CA (September 29, 2020) – Two century-old irrigation districts in the Tracy area have officially joined forces. In a landmark moment Tuesday, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) held its first regular board meeting since consolidating with the West Side Irrigation District (WSID).
In the early 1900s, the two districts kept handwritten board meeting minutes. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting was held virtually via Zoom.
“This is the culmination of several years of work to bring these two districts together, for the benefit of our growers,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “In today’s challenging regulatory climate, this consolidation will improve water reliability, strengthen water rights, and provide greater financial flexibility to keep our water system performing well into the future.”
In June, the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted unanimously in favor of consolidating the districts. The former 6,000-acre WSID service area West of Tracy was incorporated into the existing 30,000-acre service area of BBID, establishing a single 36,000-acre district. Former WSID Directors Tom Pereira and Jack Alvarez have become BBID Board Directors in newly created Divisions XIII and IX, respectively. The former boundaries of WSID are now known as the West Side Service Area. All former WSID employees have become BBID staff.
“This is a great step forward that will keep our farmers in business,” said Jack Alvarez, former WSID Board President and new BBID Board Director. “We are stronger together, with a greater ability to manage costs and provide reliable water deliveries.”
The merger has been in the works since 2016, when both districts first voted to move forward and BBID began managing WSID operations. Landowners expressed their strong support at a public meeting held at the outset of the process. Last year, LAFCO adopted a final Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) prepared by both districts, which includes an extensive review of financial information, infrastructure, and services provided.
BBID previously merged with the Plain View Water District in 2004.