TID History

Founded on June 6, 1887 by people with the vision and foresight of what this area could become and the courage to stake livelihoods and personal properties on the outcome, TID became the first irrigation district in California.

Our history begins along the Tuolumne River and is one of great ambition and hard work that transformed a vast, seasonably dry land into one of the world’s most productive landscapes. The introduction of irrigation to this region allowed for its transformation from large, dry farmed grain crops totally dependent on plentiful and well-timed rainfall, to small, family-owned farms that could sustain permanent crops and withstand the periods of drought that have occurred over millennia.

With the advent of a water storage project on the Tuolumne River at Don Pedro’s Bar, we began to generate and sell electricity in the same manner which we provided irrigation water; on a not-for-profit basis.

Our story is one of vision, innovation, persistence, fortitude and occasionally, conflict. Like all epic success stories there were periods of triumph and tragedy, success and setbacks but ultimately, the dreams of our visionary forefathers have materialized and this region has been transformed into one of the most fertile and productive the world has ever known.

We’re proud of our heritage and mindful of the challenges that lie ahead and we invite you to learn more about Turlock Irrigation District and our role in the region’s storied past and its optimistic future.

Back in 1887, frustrated by the lack of reliable river water but optimistic about future farming opportunities, the region formed TID in the hope of bringing prosperity to a dry land nestled between the Tuolumne, Merced and San Joaquin rivers. It was a lofty goal, but one worthy of pursuit. Some said greening this land couldn’t be done. Others outright opposed irrigation.

More than 130 years later, it’s tough to imagine where this region would be without the perseverance, sacrifice and hard work of those visionary forefathers who formed TID. They wanted a better life. They didn’t give up on their dream. They pressed on at all costs. And now the dream of irrigation continues to be a reality for the thousands of farmers who receive water from TID – water that helps produce crops that are the lifeblood of our region. Add the generation and distribution of public power beginning in 1923 and what exists is a pair of services – water and power – that have benefited the region many times over.

Watch The Irrigationist movie below to learn even more about our history.