THE MISSION OF MADERA IRRIGATION DISTRICT is to obtain and manage affordable surface water and groundwater supplies in a manner which will ensure the long-term viability of irrigated agriculture in the District.

The Madera Irrigation District (MID or District) encompasses an area of approximately 139,665 acres.  MID operates a primarily gravity irrigation distribution system with approximately 300 miles of open flow canal systems as well as 150 miles of large diameter pipelines.

The District has a Central Valley Project (CVP) repayment contract with United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) providing up to 85,000 acre feet (AF) of Class 1 and 186,000 AF of Class 2 water per year from the Friant Division (Millerton Lake). The CVP water is released from Millerton Lake through the Friant Dam, and then conveyed through the Madera Canal for delivery into the District’s service area. The District also entered into a CVP repayment contract with the USBR for the yield from the Hidden Unit (Hensley Lake). Under the Hidden Unit contract, the average annual supply available to the District is approximately 24,000 AF per year.

The District has Pre-1914 rights to divert water from Big Creek (Big Creek Diversion) and the North Fork of Willow Creek (Soquel Diversion). The Big Creek Diversion originates in Big Creek, a tributary of the Merced River. This Diversion is located just upstream of Fish Camp, CA, where the water is redirected to flow down Lewis Creek, a tributary of the upper Fresno River. The Soquel Diversion originates in North Fork Willow Creek, a tributary of the San Joaquin River. This Diversion is located approximately 9 miles upstream of Bass Lake, where water can be redirected to flow through the Soquel Ditch to Nelder Creek, a tributary of the upper Fresno River. Alternatively, water can be left in North Fork Willow Creek, and allowed to flow to Bass Lake and eventually to the San Joaquin River, where it can be diverted in Friant Dam.  MID also has a Pre-1914 water right on the Fresno River.

The District is a public agency, established by the State Legislature as a Special Act District. It is governed by a five member Board of Directors who are elected at large but who must reside within the division they serve. The statutory authority under which an irrigation district operates is known as the California Water Code. A large segment of the City of Madera (City) is included within the District.  Each resident of the City, who is registered to vote, has an opportunity to vote for the Director of his or her choice and may opt to run for the directorship.

In addition to the services rendered to the lands within the District, the District also conveys agricultural water to the Gravelly Ford Water District. The District is a partner in the Madera-Chowchilla Water and Power Authority (MCWPA) which operates and maintains the Madera Canal under an agreement with the USBR.  


Major Facilities Related to the District


Friant Dam / Millerton Lake
Friant Dam is located on the San Joaquin River, 25 miles northeast of Fresno, California. Completed in 1942, the dam is a concrete gravity structure, 319 feet high, with a crest length of 3,488 feet. The dam controls the San Joaquin River flows, provides downstream releases to meet requirements above Mendota Pool, and provides flood control, conservation storage, diversion into Madera and Friant-Kern Canals, prevents salt water from destroying thousands of acres in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and delivers water to a million acres of agricultural land in Fresno, Kern, Madera, and Tulare Counties in the San Joaquin Valley. The reservoir, Millerton Lake, first stored water on February 21, 1944. It has a total capacity of 520,528 acre-feet, a surface area of 4,900 acres, and is approximately 15 miles long. The lake’s 45 miles of shoreline varies from gentle slopes near the dam to steep canyon walls farther inland. The reservoir provides boating, fishing, picnicking, and swimming.

Madera Canal
The 35.9 mile-long Madera Canal carries water north from Millerton Lake to supply lands in Madera County. The Madera Canal has an initial capacity of 1,000 cfs, decreasing to a capacity of 625 cfs at the Chowchilla River.  This facility is operated by MCPWA in partnership with Chowchilla Water District. 

Hidden Dam / Lake Hensley
Hidden Dam is a 184-foot tall earthen dam that is 5,730 feet long at its crest. The Dam, completed in September 1975, was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control, irrigation storage, and recreation. It is the only major storage dam of the Fresno River. The reservoir it creates, Hensley Lake, has a water surface of two and a half square miles, over twenty miles of shoreline, and has a maximum storage capacity of 90,259 af.

John A. Franchi Diversion Dam
The John A. Franchi Diversion Dam was built by Reclamation in 1964, to replace the Madera Diversion Dam on the Fresno River. The current earth and sheet steel piling dam is operated by the District, under an agreement with the USBR. The dam stands 15-feet-high and spans 263 feet across the Fresno River.


Madera Irrigation District Map (Interactive) 

(Service districts available under the "Layers" tab in the interactive map)