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Cooler & wetter May cuts irrigation water use
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Temperatures running as much as 50 degrees cooler than a year ago coupled with a wet May has reduced South San Joaquin Irrigation District water use by 30 percent so far this month.

That - coupled with fairly heavy snowfall in the Sierra that is allowing resorts such as Squaw Valley to reopen for skiing this Memorial Day Weekend - could mean the back of the three-year drought may be broken.

As of Monday, the district has used 13,600 acre feet of water to irrigate 60,000 acres of farmland surrounding Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.

Water experts emphasize that manmade shortages based on court decisions protecting fish may continue to force water shortages for farmers and urban users dependent upon water transfers through the Delta may continue despite the higher than average perception. Even so, the state’s biggest reservoir - the Sierra snowpack - is expected to yield strong run-off to fill depleted reservoirs throughout the summer.

The unimpaired snowmelt as of May 1 was 110 percent on the Stanislaus River watershed that fills New Melones Reservoir where the SSJID and the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy draw their water. Since then the Sierra has experience numerous days of unseasonablely late May snowfall making it quite possible the snowmelt forecast which reflects the stored water content will be significantly higher than normal for a June 1.

Manteca received .06 inches of rain Wednesday based on readings at the Civic Center weather station. The total for May is now at .32 inches with 12.15 inches so far this year.