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Ralph Roos, SSJID director since 1994 passes away at 77
Ralph Roos

Ralph Roos — whose fiscal stewardship as a board member played a key role in the San Joaquin Irrigation District being able to implement a cutting edge water conserving delivery system and helped keep water rates among the lowest in the state while the agency has amassed $80 million plus in reserves — has passed away.

The Ripon almond farmer who had served on the SSJID board for 27 years participated in board meetings keeping a sharp eye on financial documents as he has since 1994 up until a month ago despite battling illness.

“Ralph was a steady hand on the board,” SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk said of Roos who passed away Tuesday at age 77.
Rietkerk said while the entire board strives to make prudent fiscal decisions with the public’s money, Roos consistently took it to the next level.

“He would ask innocuous questions given trends he learned to recognize over the years thanks to his service on the board and he’d always be right,” Rietkerk said.

His service continued the 112-year stewardship and forward thinking board members have lent to the SSJID.

The initial board members secured and developed pre-1914 water rights — the most senior water rights in California. Subsequent board members have stridently protected and continued developing those water rights and to find ways to further leverage them to benefit the entire community they serve from farmers to residents and businesses.

During Roos’ tenure as a board member:

*The Division 9 pressurized delivery system south of Manteca and west of Ripon replaced open canals and field flooding as well as applying water with sprinklers with pressurized lines allowing drip irrigation in orchards. The result has been a drastic reduction in water use, increased crop yields, and reduced air pollution that eliminated the need for diesel pumps to tap into groundwater. The project has drawn national and international acclaim.

*The SSJID partnered with the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy to deliver treated surface water to reduce reliance on dropping aquifers.
*The district has managed to conduct needed system upgrades and other improvements while amassing more than $80 million in reserves. That is more than 2½ times the annual district operating budget making the SSJID one of the fiscally soundest government agencies in the state.

Roos, and the rest of the board, have been engaged in a long-term effort to leverage the $80 million to takeover retail electric delivery that would reduce power rates by at least 15 percent across the board in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon. The district is now awaiting a court decision.

Roos was raised on the family farm in Ripon. He is a Ripon Christian High School graduate and attended Dordt College. Roos served six year in the Marines and has been in farming and related businesses for more than 50 years. He was also a member of the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club.

Roos also served on the Immanuel Christian Reformed Church council and various committees.

The board in July will decide whether to appoint a replacement to serve out Roos’ term that expires in December 2022 or call for a special election in November.

Roos district covered all of Ripon as well as Manteca southwest of Main Street and Yosemite Avenue with the exception of the Tesoro neighborhood.

Graveside services are scheduled for Friday, July 2, at 10 a.m. at Ripon Cemetery.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email