Dave Kamper has two primary goals if he is re-elected to another four-year term on the San Joaquin Irrigation District board — continue sharpening the efficiency in water deliveries and to keep working toward the day the SSJID replaces PG&E as the retail electric provider for Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, and the surrounding countryside.
Kamper is one of two candidates seeking election Nov. 3 to the Division 3 seat on the SSJID board. The other is Sam Bologna.
SSJID for 112 years has been delivering irrigation water throughout the 72,000 acres that are within district boundaries including farmland within blocks of today’s downtown when it was a fledgling crossroads where Highway 120 and Highway 99 met at what is today the intersection of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.
The district started delivering treated surface water to the City of Manteca — as well as Tracy and Escalon — 16 years ago. More than half the water Manteca consumes each year comes from SSJID.
Also, the district’s irrigation canals play a pivotal role in removing storm runoff from the city. By allowing Manteca to piggyback on their canal system, the SSJID has helped save Manteca millions of dollars that would be required to install pipe to discharge to the San Joaquin River.
Kamper has served on the SSJID board since 1997. He is currently the president.
The SSJID has consistently been the most well positioned government agency in San Joaquin County in terms of finances based on long range decisions such as partnering with Oakdale Irrigation District to develop shared water rights on the Stanislaus River watershed through the Tri-Dam Project. That has allowed the board under Kamper’s leadership this year to bank a third of the revenue the district generates while continuing to improve the water delivery system.
Kamper sees water efficiency as one of the district’s biggest accomplishments and most solid ongoing initiative.
“(We) took a difficult mandate from the state and made it into a good thing by learning how to measure water better, being more efficient with water and help growers know exactly how much water they are using,” Kamper noted.
Among the SSJID achievements Kamper is most proud of is the district’s “ability to provide on demand water for many customers not just in Division 9 by using float valves and flow control devices.”
The Division 9 pressurized delivery system put in place south of Manteca and west of Ripon has been heralded as one of the nation’s most cutting edge water conservation projects.
By pressurizing the system and eliminating open canals and the need for flood irrigation and sprinklers, farmers have been able to switch to drip irrigation. It puts water right where trees need it the most.
The closed system has ended up reducing water waste, increased yields, and eliminated the need for supplemental groundwater pumping that has helped stop the infiltration of salt water into underground aquifers.
Kamper also points to working to bring treated water to cities as well as a track record of “hiring excellent people” as high points of his board service to date.
While Kamper is frustrated by the legal hurdles PG&E keeps tossing in front of SSJID and the lack of legislative help to allow SSJID to go through with its plan to provide local control as well as power rates 15 percent lower than what PG&E charges, he is confident SSJID taking the long-term approach will allow residents, farmers, and businesses to benefit from lower priced and reliable electricity just like they have from water provided by SSJID.
“It has been a pleasure to work on a board that functions well through some significant personnel changes,” Kamper added.
Kamper is an almond grower who was raised on the family farm. Kamper and his wife Judy have three children.
Division 3 encompasses a large chunk of Manteca roughly as far west as Locust Avenue and the Tidewater Bikeway bordered partially on the south by the 120 Bypass on the north by Louise Avenue to Main Street and then Northgate Avenue with the eastern boundary Highway 99 as far south as Yosemite. Avenue. It also includes the area bounded by Van Ryn Avenue, Woodward Avenue and Moffat Boulevard.
The rural component is bordered by East Highway 120 on the north, Murphy Road on the east, and Clinton South/Graves Road on the south.
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