Oakdale Irrigation District

Oakdale implements Network Control for stable water levels and to eliminate outfalls


Country: USA
Location: Oakdale, California
Organization: Oakdale Irrigation District (OID)

Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) is a 72,000 acre irrigation district located in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California.

OID manages a 100 year old gravity flow system diverting about 300,000 acre feet per year to a mix of irrigated agriculture farms, pasture land and municipal users (2,800 farmers an


Following a comprehensive evaluation of system performance, Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) embarked on a program to modernize their gravity distribution system. In particular, they aimed to reduce spills and improve service by reducing fluctuations in canal water levels. With stable water levels, OID would be able to provide more consistent flows at customer service points and canal offtakes supplying downstream districts.

As part of its modernization program, OID identified two key laterals where improved control would realize significant benefits:

  • The 6.5 mile Claribel lateral, which has 17 pools and supplies water to 75 farmer service points and four lateral headings. It was a priority for OID to significantly reduce annual spills of more than 1,700 acre-feet, while ensuring that customer service was not adversely affected.
  • The 8.5 mile Cometa lateral, which has 13 pools and a canal slope of up to 0.8%. This swift moving canal required frequent operator adjustment to supply water to 21 farmer turnouts, seven lateral headings and two seperately managed downstream districts. It was difficult to meet required flow setpoints for downstream districts while maintaining stable water levels at all farm turnouts using traditional methods

“Automating two laterals has allowed us to better manage our water and enhance service levels to farmers. Farmers have benefited from consistent flow rates, which the system is able to achieve by closely matching demand and supply. “

Steve Knell

General Manager, OID


On both the Claribel and Cometa laterals, Rubicon implemented a Network Control solution to coordinate and control all check structures in each lateral.  Rubicon’s Network Control solution is one of a range of solutions built from our TCC (Total Channel Control) technology. OID also automated six farmer turnouts along the Claribel lateral with Rubicon SlipMeters™.

FlumeGates were installed at check structures along both laterals. Additional key elements of the solution included server running Rubicon’s SCADAConnect software and NeuroFlo network control software, which coordinates and automatically controls the entire network of FlumeGates and SlipMeters. All components work together, automatically controlling gates according to a canal-wide objective of matching supply with demand. 

All FlumeGates are in constant communication with other upstream and downstream FlumeGates and with the server, sharing information about water levels and flows along the length of the channel in real time. This means that water level fluctuations are minimized, ensuring high flows and service levels to all farms along the canal.

FlumeGate icon, overshot integrated gate and flow meter

FlumeGate™ x 787

SlipGate undershot control gate icon

SlipGate™ x 865

Irrigation Radio Communication Network Icon

Radio Network

Rubicon Software Icon

Confluent™ Software

NeuroFlo Icon


Network Visualisation Icon

Network Visualization

Irrigation Radio Communication Network Icon

Radio Network


Operational spill reduction, water level control, service to irrigators and delivery of flow commitments at lateral headings have all greatly improved since the implementation of Rubicon’s Network Control solution. Examples of performance pre- and post-implementation are shown below.

Operational spills eliminated

Since the implementation of Network Control on the Claribel lateral, unintentional spills have been completely eliminated as shown below. Based on 2010 season spill figures, this would result in an equivalent savings of more than 1,700 acre-feet of water. Also, more consistent flows through turnouts have enabled farmers to irrigate more efficiently.

Oakdale Irrigation Average daily spill before and after Network Control

Water levels stable and flow commitments met

The implementation of Network Control on the Cometa lateral has seen significant improvements in both canal water level variation and the consistency of flow to seperately managed downstream districts. Below is a graph of upstream water level at the Hirschfeld headgate, which provides flow to one of the Cometa’s downstream divisions. Under manual control, the water level varied significantly. Under Network Control, water level is tightly controlled which ensures consistent flows to all farm turnouts and downstream divisions.

Oakdale Irrigation District Water level variation


“Our farmers recognise the benefits of upstream level control and our ditch tenders recognise the benefits of continued automation.”

John Davids

District Engineer, OID

“We always have the required flow to the downstream divisions, we never lose it like we used to.”

Michael Evans

Channel Operator, OID