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SSJID says no thanks to consultants pitch
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South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s board turned down a pitch to spend $25,000 in a bid to try and leverage $300,000 in federal funds.

A chance to possibly leverage $25,000 into $300,000 in matching federal grants  for a water optimization program designed to develop a plan as the blueprint for all encompassing water conservation that also addressed wildlife preservation was rejected after SSJID board members grilled a consultant Tuesday who was trying to land the contract to prepare the grant application..

“I thought the federal government was broke,” SSJID board member Ralph Roos said at one point.

That prompted the consultant to explain there was a $1 million “left over” from the Bureau of Reclamation budget from the last fiscal year that is being made available to grant applications picked that are in by the April 24 deadline.

That prompted board members to ask follow up questions such as how much was awarded the previous year and how many applicants. When told it was 40 applicants with five being funded and splitting the available $1 million, board member continued to press for more information. They found out that the Bureau - if they were one of the successful applicants - could choose to fund only a small portion of the $300,000 requested.

SSJID staff pointed out that much of the work is already being pursued including water conservation efforts with a completely enclosed irrigating delivery system as part of the Division 9 improvements southwest of Manteca. The SSJID is also working with other agencies to protect river habitats.

The consultant - after hearing that - noted the district could use some of the money should they get the grant to be reimbursed for work already done.

In the end the SSJID board rejected the grant writing proposal noting it was far from a sure deal and that the district would be better off taking their time developing their own comprehensive plan that meets local needs.