Ahead of its time
Founded in 1887, the Turlock Irrigation District was the first irrigation district established in California. The goal was to bring a reliable water supply to the land between the Tuolumne, Merced and San Joaquin rivers. The district later joined forces with the Modesto Irrigation District and built the original Don Pedro Dam on the Tuolumne River in 1923. However, it only held enough water for a single growing season, and officials for both irrigation districts realized a larger reservoir was needed to ensure an adequate water supply during multi-year dry periods.