South San Joaquin Irrigation District board member Dale Kuil passed away Thursday at age 76.
Kuil had served on the SSJID board since 2003 and drew praise from colleagues and farmers for his thorough dedication to making sure the district delivered for all of its constituencies whether they were agricultural users or urban dwellers.
“He was a good friend and a dedicated director,” SSJID Board President Dave Kamper said.
Kamper noted Kuil “was always willing to go to extra meetings.”
That commitment made Kuil arguably one of the area’s most tenacious leaders committed to addressing groundwater issues. Prior to the formation of the Eastern San Joaquin Basin Authority to address the state mandate that regions cannot remove more water from an aquifer than they replenish in a given year, Kuil was involved in other agencies that monitored groundwater. Kuil was a driving force in getting the district and the three cities of Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon to work together on groundwater issues believing a unified approach assured all jurisdictions of the best possible outcomes.
“I felt privileged and blessed to have served as general manager when Dale was board president in 2017 and 2018,” said SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk.
Rietkerk said Kuil “did not give out praise easily” in his drive for the district to provide the best possible service to its stakeholders. He also pushed himself to higher standards constantly looking for ways for SSJID to do things more efficiently as well as benefitting the environment at the same time.
An example was the operation of the Nick D. Groot South San Joaquin Surface Water Treatment Plant that provides water to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy. The state rules require that citric water created in the treatment process had to be disposed of at an expense that is passed on to city water users. Kuil was pushing for the state to allow it to be diluted and mixed with irrigation water delivered to farmland within the SSJID where it would improve the soil.
Kamper noted it was a “silly rule” that the state had and that the cost of disposing of the water wasn’t cost prohibitive but it was an example of Kuil’s commitment to get the most use out of water on behalf of SSJID stakeholders as well as keep costs down.
Kuil farmed and served as a pest control advisor.
He was a familiar face at area farmers markets including the Tuesday markets during the summer in downtown Manteca where he manned a booth featuring products grown on his farm west of Ripon.
Kuil was a member of the Ripon Lions Club and served as a Ripon Future Farmers of America advisor. He also served as a Ripon Unified School District board member for 20 years.
Raised in Ripon, he attended Modesto Junior College. Kuil’s primary hobby was fishing.
He and his wife Eileen have two children and three grandchildren.
The SSJID board when they meet Tuesday are expected to discuss whether to appoint a replacement or call for a special election to fill the District 4 seat. Kuil was re-elected in 2016 with his current term expiring in November 2020.
District 4 consists of rural Ripon north of West Ripon Road and west of Jack Tone Road and Austin Road. It takes in all of rural South Manteca that is within the SSKID boundaries.
The district includes a large chunk of the City of Manteca. It includes areas west of the railroad tracks to a point aligned with Locust Avenue. The city west of Locust Avenue to the 120 Bypass is in the district. South of the 120 Bypass it includes everything west of South Main Street as newer neighborhoods west of South Main Street and south of the original Woodward Park neighborhoods.
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