Merced Irrigation District has been in existence for nearly a hundred years and dates back to the era of the Crocker-Hoffman Land and Water Company.
In 1914, the privately-owned Crocker-Huffman Co decided to sell its irrigation system. The community formed a 15-member committee to explore the possibility of creating a locally owned irrigation district. A vote was taken on November 25, 1919, forming the Merced Irrigation District. This led to the purchase of the Crocker-Huffman Water Company for $2.25 million.
Bonds were sold as the local community staked its future with the construction of the $16 million Exchequer Dam in the 1920s. It was built at the side of the former Exchequer Minding Company. When completed, Exchequer Dam, was 326 feet high, 1,200 feet long and backed up water for a run of 14 miles, allowing storage of 281,000 acre-feet of water.
By the mid-1950s, MID was turning an eye to the future, seeking to store more water and prevent downstream flooding. The District filed an application requesting 900,000 AF of additional water storage and 3,000 cubic feet per second of power generation. In 1964, the District was granted a license with multiple environmental mitigation measures from the Federal Power Commission to expand the irrigation and power facilities on the Merced River. Construction of the New Exchequer Dam began soon after. Upon completion, the New Exchequer Dam had a crest elevation of 879 feet and increased Lake McClure’s storage capacity to 1,024,600 acre-feet of water.
Currently, MID provides approximately 300,000 acre feet of irrigation water to 2,200 growers in a typical season – using 800 miles of canals and waterways. The vast majority of the operations within MID cover less than 50 acres and are generationally owned family farms.
MID has decades of knowledge and experience with the Merced River. As part of its federal and state requirements, the district has invested tens of millions of dollars in environmental studies using the best available science and best technology possible.
The District continues to advocate a balanced approach to ensuring a healthy salmon population on the Merced while still meeting the needs of its growers and ensuring continued groundwater replenishment in eastern Merced County, vital to drinking water quality in this disadvantaged community.