Final day of water deliveries for the South San Joaquin Irrigation District was Saturday, Oct. 10.
SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields said the “last water delivery in the system” for this year was due to go into the canals at 5 p.m. Saturday. After that final delivery, the canals are drawn down, gradually emptying of water.
And while the delivery season may be over, Shields said the ‘project’ season is just beginning.
“During the off season, in the joint main canal, that we jointly operate with Oakdale Irrigation District, we will be doing gunite work, largely on the floor of that canal,” explained Shields.
The canal is from Goodwin Dam to Knights Ferry.
Also, at the main distribution canal for SSJID, which runs along Victory Road, there will be an estimated 1,000 feet of new lining installed.
“Last year we did along Victory on the north side of the road, this year we will go on the south side of Highway 120 and line the main distribution canal,” heading from the highway toward River Road, said Shields.
Re-lining of a canal off of Jack Tone Road is also planned during the winter ‘off season’ for irrigation, while all areas of the district will get a going over for any minor repairs that need to be made. The canals, once drained of water, will also be cleared of any accumulated debris.
Shields said in reviewing the water year, SSJID did fairly well, and said he feels both SSJID and neighboring OID consistently operate in a manner benefiting their parcel holders.
Shields said the growers largely stayed within their allowable use limits, many able to transfer to other parcels as well, without going over their allotments.
“Cities also had a 25 percent conservation target, Tracy, Lathrop and Manteca, those that get drinking water from us, they met those targets,” Shields said. “We also conserved as best we could, we did make it through the year without drawing on our reserves.”
Meanwhile, at Woodward Reservoir, SSJID has now made the switch from utilizing the upper reservoir for drinking water supplies to the lower reservoir, which has required the enactment of ‘No Body Contact’ rules for the reservoir. No human or animal body contact is allowed in the water, now that it is being used to draw water for the SSJID water treatment plant on Dodds Road.
“When we start bringing water back in March each year, and the water gets high enough, we take it from the upper reservoir,” explained Shields. “When we have to lower the reservoir for the division of dam safety, we no longer allow body contact.
“There is hunting allowed, there are duck blinds up there, but no dogs in the water, no humans in the water,” he said.
The end of the irrigation season this year also marks the end of Shields’ career with SSJID, as his retirement takes effect this Friday, Oct. 16.
He said he and his wife are not planning to move from the area, but will likely be making some trips to see their children, a son in Portland with a new baby and their daughter in North Carolina.
“So traveling, see the family, I am in fairly decent health so I’d like to spend some time getting back into shape,” Shields added. “And my golf game sucks, I am resigned to the fact that I might just be a lousy golfer, but I want to take some lessons and practice.”