By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Stanislaus River watershed is now all in severe drought
Woodward Reservoir could look like this by August if the state has its way. This photo was taken during the 2009 drought. - photo by HIME ROMERO

All of San Joaquin County and the entire watersheds of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers are now in severe drought.

The data that supported that declaration by the United States Department of Agriculture this week was the topic at Tuesday’s South San Joaquin Irrigation District meeting on Tuesday.

“The board has a high level of confidence if we tightly manage our system and spills and the growers and cities carefully manage their water use we will be able to weather this year without any water delivery reduction or allocation caps,” indicated SSJID General Manager Peter Rietkerk.

The board did approve an annual water sale to assist farmers to the west of the SSJID territory in the South Delta Water Agency with 266 acre feet of water at $150 per acre foot. That represents about 1/10 of a percent of the district’s overall anticipated water allocation this year.

Due to an anemic snowpack and the second straight dry year hydrology indicated SSJID might not receive more than 225,000 acre feet for this year. That compares to 249,000 acre feet that was used by growers and cities in 2020.

If May projections continue in terms of residual snow in the Sierra, this will be one of the lowest snowpack yields in terms of water in recorded history.

Manteca, Lathrop, and Tracy all receive treated water from SSJID in addition to pumping water from aquifers. However, all areas in California are facing a looming mandate preventing them from taking more water out of the ground than they return in a given year.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email