It is water – or more precisely developing secured adjudicated rights on the Stanislaus River – that allowed the seeds pioneers planted more than 114 years ago for the communities of Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon to grow.
That is the message being conveyed by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s latest public awareness campaign: “Water = Food = Life”.
“Even with the recent rains we are still in a multiple-year drought,” noted Katie Patterson, who serves as SSJID’s public and government relations manager.
The campaign as such reminds people that water is key to life.
At the same time, the SSJID hopes to raise public awareness of its ongoing efforts to make sure the district’s water rights that are critical to the day-to-day lives of 220,000 urban users in Manteca, Tracy, and Lathrop as well as 50,000 acres of irrigated farmland in the Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon area are protected and used wisely.
Patterson said it’s a challenge to cram that message in several words that people will see as they are driving by but believes the three words chosen – water = food = life – effectively does just that.
“We need food to live and we need water to grow food,” she said.
The billboards include artwork of a mother and her young child enjoying a watermelon in a field.
While almonds are by far the No. 1 crop in San Joaquin County, local farmers harvested 167 million pounds of watermelon in 2020. That is almost half of the 366.1 million pounds grown in the entire Central Valley. San Joaquin County is by far the leading watermelon growing county in California.
The slogan is the basis of this year’s vehicle wrap art contest the SSJID is sponsoring for first through fifth grade students in Manteca Unified, Ripon Unified, and Escalon Unified school districts.
The winning entry’s art work will grace the trucks of district ditch tenders for a year.
The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift card. There are also gift card awards for first through third place in the categories of first through third grades as well as fourth and fifth grades.
The district’s marketing message will also be used in other community outreach endeavors such as SSJID information booths at community festivals throughout the year.