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Lindsay area played key role in water rights history

Lindsay area played key role in water rights history

Lindsay Branch Library hosts book signing Jan. 16 on Richard Zack’s history of Tulare Irrigation District


LINDSAY – The Tulare Irrigation District, the largest irrigation district in one the state’s most agriculturally rich counties, has played a pivotal role in California’s complex water rights history. But it was a lawsuit against the Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District that was pivotal in shaping the formative years of TID, a formidable irrigation district.

The 1937 settlement in the case of TID v. Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District (LSID) is not only one of the most memorable moments of TID’s history, it is also a case that is still used as legal precedent today and one that author Richard Zack recounts in detail in his book “Quest for Water: Tulare Irrigation District – Its History, People, And Progression.” Among the book’s 472 pages, Zack stated that his friends and reviewers found that lawsuit chapter, entitled the Great Lawsuit, was the best portion of the book.

“It involves armed confrontations between union and non-union employees, dynamite blasts, Pinkerton detectives, a female operative, and a burglary at a local auto parts store in Exeter,” Zack stated in an interview earlier this year.

It was on June 2, 1926 when someone blew up the Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District pipeline, presumably for their over pumping of water from the Rancho de Kaweah well field along the Kaweah River that LSID owned, but not before filing a lengthy lawsuit.

The chapter is filled with obscure and curious details on the matter and delves into the various roles each agency and character played.

Zack will be available to discuss the book during a book signing from 6-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the Lindsay Branch Library, 157 N. Mirage Ave. in Lindsay.

The rest of the book focuses on five different points in TID’s history and what it has meant to water rights in the state, including Joseph Goldman’s purchase of TID bounds and his sale of a water right on the St. John’s River to TID between 1890 and 1891, Judge Peckham’s U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring TID a legal entity and the bond debt as valid in 1902, the TID and the Tulare Chamber of Commerce negotiation to navigate its way out of its bond debt, and the signing of the Bureau of Reclamation Central Valley Project water contract.

A civil engineer by trade and former high school English teacher, Zack traveled numerous times to Sacramento, San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and all points in between for his book. His drive for complete knowledge knew no bounds. At one point he drove all the way to Leavenworth, Wash. to interview Board Chairman E.A. Heseltine’s granddaughter who was by then in her 80s.

Zack, who is 67 years old, has a keen interest in water. His father, David Zack, was the district’s engineer-manager and worked there for 40 years, and the book is dedicated to him. Retail price for the book is $49.95, and readers will get over 490 photographs depicting the real life men and women who worked on or influenced the history of the Tulare Irrigation District.

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