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SSJID earns international water honor
South San Joaquin Irrigation District Field Engineer Jeff Shaw cracks a smile while general manager Jeff Shields and board president Ralph Roos open the prize money that accompanied the 2014 WaterSave Technology Award. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

It’s a state-of-the-art water delivery system that makes life easier for both the growers and those charged with making sure that their crops get everything that they need. 

And it now has the stamp of peer-approval. 

On Tuesday the South San Joaquin Irrigation District announced that it had been awarded the 2014 WaterSave Technology Award for its Division 9 pressurized piping system that gives customers more flexibility on when they take their delivery and how that water is distributed. It also is saving significant amounts of water.

The award was presented at the International Congress on Irrigation and Drainage in South Korea, where 40 countries were represented and discussed the various issues that each of them tackle in the modern day world of irrigation. 

A $2,000 cash prize was also presented to go with the award which was accepted in Seoul by SSJID Field Engineer Jeff Shaw. 

“You saw things that you wouldn’t expect to when you’re talking about that many countries being in one place,” Shaw said. “I met a guy who happened to be from Iran and he told me, ‘See – Iran and the United States can work together on something and in this case its water. 

“I think that tells a lot about the project and the team that we have that put it all together.”

While most SSJID customers still take water deliveries the old fashioned way, the test project that delivers pressurized, on-demand water has been hailed as a revolution – a chance to not only save water that is wasted by traditional delivery methods but also afford the customers all of the conveniences of deciding when they’re going to irrigate and for how long.

With the exception of maintaining the line, the only thing that the ditch tenders have left to worry about is making sure that the reservoir built to provide on-demand stock stays full. It’s possible, during high-usage periods, for the level to fluctuate several feet within hours, and too many people drawing from that pond at the same time could theoretically drain it. 

The success of the pilot project could make it a model for future expansion when funding becomes available. 

“Anytime that you get recognized by a world organization like that I think is a good thing,” said board chairman Ralph Roos. “I think we put in a good effort on this.”