Four years in the making, the merger of the West Side Irrigation District into the Byron Bethany Irrigation District was culminated on Sept. 29.

That was the day the newly enlarged BBID board met, in a Zoom virtual meeting, for the first time since the two irrigation districts were officially combined.

Joining the existing BBID board members for the meeting were two additions from the West Side board, Jack Alvarez and Tom Pereira, enlarging the board from seven to nine members.

Other Tracy area representatives on the BBID board are Russell Kagehiro, board president, and Chuck Tuso, Jeff Brown and Felix Musco.

The Byron Bethany Irrigation District was formed in 1914 in an area northwest of Tracy, including the then-existing village of Bethany in San JoaquinCounty and Byron in ContraCostaCounty.

The West Side Irrigation District was organized in 1917 in the area that included Tracy and surrounding farmland. Both districts have relied on pumping from the Delta as their principal source of water, and both have supplementary sources with water from the Delta-MendotaCanal..

In addition to providing water for farmland irrigation, BBID has contracts to supply water to Mountain House and to the PattersonPassBusinessPark west of Tracy, which includes the Safeway and Costco distribution centers.

The West Side Irrigation District office at 1520 N. Tracy Blvd. will remain open as the Tracy field office. The BBID office and maintenance facility are located on Bruns Road south of Byron. The combined district will carry the Byron Bethany Irrigation District name.

 “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 two districts moved past the last major hurdle to completing the merger when 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.

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 merged in 2004 with the Plain View Water District along the Delta-MendotaCanal west of Tracy.

n Contact the Tracy Press at or 835-3030.

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