A century of water and power: Merced Irrigation District celebrates 100 years
You probably know that Merced Irrigation District provides water for irrigation and non-profit public power. You might even know we operate Lake McClure and produce renewable hydroelectric energy.
But do you know where it all started?
It started in 1919 – 100 years ago this year – when our community voted to establish its own public irrigation district.
In 1922, Merced Irrigation District purchased the Crocker Huffman Land and Water Company irrigation system. The Exchequer Mining Company on the Merced River was chosen as the ideal location to construct the District’s first dam: Exchequer Dam. Once constructed, it was 326 feet high, backed up water for a run of 14 miles and allowed storage of 281,000 acre-feet of water.
By the 1950s, Merced Irrigation District was looking to expand. Planning began for a larger dam with more water storage and more hydroelectric output. In 1964, the District was granted a license from the Federal Power Commission to expand the irrigation and power facilities on the Me. Construction began soon after.
Upon completion, the New Exchequer Dam has a crest elevation of 879 feet with a maximum length of 1,220 feet. The New Exchequer Dam increased Lake McClure’s storage capacity to 1,024,600 acre-feet of water. The hydroelectric project is able to produce 100 megawatts of clean, carbon-emission-free energy.
Today, Lake McClure provides water to 2,200 local growers. It produces clean renewable energy and offers a place to cool off on a hot day. It also replenishes and helps protect the quality of our local groundwater.
This year marks 100 years since the formation of the Merced Irrigation District. Throughout 2019, we will be celebrating this milestone and invite you to join us.
For 100 years: MID is there!