The San Joaquin Irrigation District is ending farm water deliveries for the season on Oct. 15.
The SSJID board decision made Tuesday will provide adequate time for district crews to make needed repairs to the outlet at Woodward Reservoir to avoid the potential for water delivery interruptions to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy as well as possibly impacting the start of the 2021 irrigation season.
All three cities also pump groundwater while Manteca — to reduce stress on aquifers it taps into — typically uses only surface water during the winter.
By not having an irrigation run after Oct. 15, the district will also be banking 10,000 acre feet of water for next season.
Currently the Tri-Dam Project reservoirs that SSJID shares with Oakdale Irrigation District are at — or are near — capacity. New Melones Reservoir where the two districts store some of their water for upcoming irrigation seasons is at 64 percent capacity. That reflects a capacity as of Monday that is at 113 percent of normal for the 2.4 million acre foot reservoir.
Against that backdrop the U.S. Department of Agriculture places the entire Central Sierra that includes the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced watersheds to be in moderate drought as is 67.09 percent of the state. Last year at this time there was only 2.09 percent of California in moderate drought.
The Stanislaus watershed provides SSJID as well as the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy with water.
Almost all of San Joaquin County is considered to be in severe drought as is 35.26 percent of the state. Last year there was no part of the state in severe drought.
The National Weather Service is predicting La Nina conditions this winter in the Pacific Ocean that can lead to lower than normal rain or drought conditions.
SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk noted it is hard to predict weather patterns but that it is always smart to use waste wisely.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com