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Irrigation District Board Eyes Water Season Start
The new irrigation season could start as soon as next week, or it could be pushed back slightly because of the amount of rain received over the last few weeks.

Members of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District Board were slated to discuss the start of the 2010 Water Season at its meeting on Tuesday, March 9, after The Times went to press. At the last meeting on Feb. 23, board members discussed a possible date of March 19 for the official start of the season, with SSJID beginning to fill the canal system on March 15.

"However, if it continues to rain ... the start date may be pushed back," noted SSJID Communications Coordinator Troylene Sayler.

Because of heavy rains and snow this winter, SSJID expects be in an excellent situation this season for water supplies, Sayler added.

"Our reservoirs are at normal levels this year, and snowpack is at normal as well, so we should have our entire annual supply intact," she explained. "However, SSJID is still responsible to conserve as much water as possible, since many other water districts across the state are not in as fortunate a position as we are. A strong conservation program, with our irrigation staff working closely with our growers, will still be in effect so that we can help out other regions still affected by drought with assistance if requested."

As is typical during the 'off season,' a number of improvement projects were done in the district, including some in the Escalon area.

"Winter maintenance projects totaling $645,000 for the Escalon area included three projects on the Lateral B," Sayler said.

Along Lateral B near Lone Tree Road, 2,100 feet of 42" pipe was laid by District crews at an approximate cost of $175,000.

Work on Lateral B between Sexton and Arthur, 3,700 feet of pipe was laid, this job was contracted to Rolfe Construction at a cost of $370,000.

A new Lateral B control structure at Steinegul Road was built by Rolfe Construction at a cost of $100,000. The control box is Phase I of a future connector to Campbell Road, to relieve drainage issues on Highway 120.

The SSJID provides water for 60,000 acres of farmland in Manteca, Ripon and Escalon. Almonds are the biggest crops with 33,000 acres followed by alfalfa at 6,000, grapes at 6,000, pasture at 5,200, walnuts at 2,400, and peaches at 1,800.