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Geer wants to make sure ‘saved’ water is used locally

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POSTED October 23, 2012 12:47 a.m.

Bob Geer wants to take protecting the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s century old water rights to the next level to strengthen the regional economy.

Geer favors the district looking aggressively at ways to make sure conservation savings through state-of-the-art investments the SSJID is making be put to use within the district or else expand the district to encompass adjoining farmland where possible to make that land even more productive.

“We need to put the water we save to use here so other areas of the state don’t try to take it,” Geer said.

The district has historic rights to 300,000 acre feet of water on the Stanislaus River watershed.

Geer is seeking the District 4 seat on the SJID board in the Nov. 6 election.  Division 4 encompasses the rural areas generally south of Manteca and west of Ripon. It also takes in a swath of the City of Manteca  bounded along the north by Yosemite Avenue running east from Lathrop’s city limits, then north along Union Road, then southeast along the railroad tracks, then turns back west along Center Street and turns south with everything west of Locust Avenue in the division. Manteca south of the 120 Bypass and west of Union Road are also in the division.

Geer - a retired SSJID employee with 28 years under his belt including 26 years as a ditch tender - lauds the state-of-the-art pressurized drip irrigation delivery system the district has put in place south of Manteca and west of Ripon. He supports efforts to install similar systems through the district to save farmers money by maximizing the efficient use of water.

But in doing so, he realizes there will be a large water savings that could become vulnerable for a classic California water grab at the detriment of the district and San Joaquin County as a whole. So far, the system after just one irrigation season has saved in excess of 3,000 acre feet of water.

Historically the conversion of farmland to urban use has been a wash for water consumption within the SSJID boundaries. Geer wants the district to find ways to put those water savings from the new system to use first in the district and then elsewhere in the county by expanding the district where feasible. That in turn would increase farm production and boost the local economy.

Geer is generally in favor of the district’s bid to enter into the retail electrical business to lower rates by 15 percent. Geer added, however, that he’d want to carefully exam the data the district had gathered first before committing his vote to the process to make sure he is comfortable with it being able to work.

“It’s a lot of money,” Geer said of the overall cost of the endeavor.

And if SSJID does replace PG&E as the retail power provider for Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop he wants to make sure to follow through on a district promise that folks who encounter issues or a problem with their service can talk directly to the district manager or board members instead of a machine or some cal center in Florida.

 “I intend to do what is right,” Geer said whether it is irrigation for farmers, helping provide city water, or delivering electricity to retail customers within the 72,000-acre district.

He emphasized that making sure SSJID employees are appreciated is important as well.

“You’re only as good as your workers,” Geer noted.

Geer has been a resident of Manteca since 1958. His mother was the longtime owner of Mae’s Café that was located where the Mangy Moose is today on East Yosemite Avenue.

The 1966 Manteca High graduate worked a as Manteca Police reserve officer for five years He also coached soccer for 10 years and Little league for four years.

He believes his hands-on experience with the day-to-day operations of the irrigation system will complete the strengths of other SSJID board members that include farmers and a member with engineering background.

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