The City of Merced and Merced Irrigation District Announce Sustainable Water Exchange Partnership

Merced, Calif – (September 5, 2023) The City of Merced and Merced Irrigation District (MID) jointly announced a water exchange agreement.

The City of Merced and Merced Irrigation District (MID) have enjoyed a long-standing relationship in the development and management of groundwater locally through the Merced Streams Group, Merced Integrated Regional Water Management Agency (MIRWMA), and more recently, the Merced Irrigated-Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MIUGSA). 

“The City of Merced was historically 100 percent dependent on groundwater to serve its residents with clean and safe drinking water,” stated City Manager Stephanie Dietz. “This Agreement diversifies the resources the city can rely on for the next 50 years. Additionally, it creates a partnership with MID, the largest purveyor of surface water in eastern Merced County, so that together, we can build a sustainable future for the city as it grows,” concluded Dietz.

The Merced City Council remains committed to policy decisions that further the sustainable use of existing water resources for the community. These decisions include adopting the 2015 Urban Water Management Plan with a proposed surface water treatment plant, implementing water meters throughout the entire Water System, and approving the Water Conservation Ordinance in 2017 to limit watering in years when the region is experiencing prolonged drought conditions.   

“This is a good water exchange and makes sense for both parties” stated MID General Manager John Sweigard. 

For its part, MID will benefit from receiving the use of recycled water produced at the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

With the understanding that a water services system entirely dependent on groundwater would face challenges in the future, at the September 5, 2023, Merced City Council meeting, the Council approved a Water Exchange Agreement, providing for a one-to-one exchange of City tertiary treated water for developed water in the ground made available by MID at no cost for up to 10,000-acre feet. The water being made available to the city from MID is surface water, primarily from the Merced River, that has intentionally been placed in the ground.           

 The Agreement also outlines opportunities for using surface water to replace groundwater for irrigation of city parks and for the ability to partner on future facilities south of the city for a 50-year term. The Agreement includes this potential surface water exchange under the same terms as the exchange for groundwater. 



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