Following the Water:
A History of Merced County Irrigation
Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Merced County Courthouse Museum will open a new exhibit entitled, Following the Water: A History of Merced County Irrigation, on June 28. From the beginning of human settlement to becoming the nation's most productive farm belt, Merced County like the rest of the Central Valley has battled over water rights while trying to control water-related disasters.

This exhibit will trace the origins of Merced County irrigation from the story of William G. Collier, "Father of Irrigation," to the establishment of irrigation districts in Merced County. Today, Merced Irrigation District in Eastern Merced County and San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority on the Westside are diversified enterprises with services that include energy, conservation, water management as well as river restoration projects.

At the exhibit opening, a senior official from MID and Dan Nelson from SLDMWA will give a PowerPoint presentation about “A Tale of Two Water Systems.”

Merced Irrigation District is helping sponsor the exhibit.

“Water is absolutely vital to agriculture, our economy and our entire way of life," said MID General Manager John Sweigard.

"The development of eastern Merced County's canals and waterways is nothing short of remarkable and a testament to the vision of our community's forefathers. There is an amazing story to be told about this aspect of our community's history. We could not be happier to help support the effort to tell it.”

The groups participating in the exhibit include: American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters of Merced County, Merced Business and Professional Women, Merced California Women for Agriculture, National Council of Negro Women, Native Daughters of the Golden West, Veritas Parlor #75, Soroptimist International of Merced, and Women's Clubs in Merced, Atwater, Dos Palos, Gustine, Los Banos, Snelling and Winton. For more information, please call 723-2401. Follow us at

Delta-Mendota Canal, 1951
Delta-Mendota Canal, 1951

Exchequer Dam 1927
Exchequer Dam 1927