Agriculture / Irrigation Water

The purpose of irrigation is to grow crops. Unlike some states in the Midwest, California does not receive enough rain to grow during the summer, rendering irrigation a necessity. The water that SSJID utilizes comes from the Stanislaus River watershed; water is stored in the reservoirs behind the Beardsley, Donnells, New Melones, Tulloch, Goodwin and Woodward dams and reservoirs. Irrigation season runs from approximately March 15 to October 15, depending on the weather and water supplies.

Water conservation is always important; we ask our growers to use care in monitoring their water usage, and make their best effort not to waste water or over water.

SSJID Water Rights Explained

SSJID co-owns with Oakdale Irrigation District (OID), water rights established prior to the enactment of the Water Commission Act in 1914 (also known as “pre-1914 rights”) to divert 1816.6 cubic feet per second from the Stanislaus River from March 1 through October 31. The pre-1914 water rights were adjudicated and confirmed by a court judgment in 1929. The two Districts also jointly hold post-1914 rights for storage in Old Melones, Beardsley, Donnells, and Tulloch Reservoirs. Additionally, SSJID independently owns storage rights at Woodward Reservoir. SSJID and OID are parties to an operations agreement with the United States Department of the Interior which owns New Melones Dam and Reservoir.  The agreement provides that the two Districts have rights to the first 600,000 acre feet of water that flows into New Melones Reservoir each water year.

SSJID holds title to all water and water rights in trust for its uses and purposes (Water Code Sections 20529; 22437). SSJID distributes water derived from these water rights to landowners within the District in accordance to the District’s rules and regulations and the California Water Code. A landowner that receives water from the District may use the water, but by using the water, does not acquire any right to the water or to the water rights owned by the District (Water Code Section 22262).

SSJID takes seriously its duty to maintain our water rights for the beneficiaries of this trust (our growers), whose interests are strongly protected along with bondholders and general creditors. It is our responsibility to ensure that our water resources are put to beneficial use to the fullest extent and that the waste or unreasonable use of the water be prevented.

Legislative Impacts on Water Management Plans

Several years ago, The California state legislature instituted SBx7-7, which includes new requirements for both urban and agricultural water suppliers. SBx7-7 requires agricultural water suppliers to prepare, adopt and periodically revise Agricultural Water Management Plans, implement Efficient Water Management Practices, adopt a pricing structure for water customers based at least in part on quantity delivered, and measure the volume of water delivered to customers with sufficient accuracy.

The District’s efforts to comply with SBx7-7 are evident in our projects and programs:

  • Flow Measurement Plan
  • The Pressurized Water Service is compliant with the water measurement regulation through its flow meter installations as well as its volumetric pricing element.
  • SSJID Improvement Projects: the efficient water management practice calling for the expansion of lines or pipe distribution systems, and construction of regulatory reservoirs to increase distribution system flexibility and capacity, and to decrease maintenance and reduce seepage, is continually being met through the many improvement projects completed over the years.

The District’s Urban Water Management Plan was adopted and submitted to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in August, 2011. The Agricultural Water Management Plan was adopted and submitted to the DWR December, 2012.

SSJID’s Stormwater Drainage System

A City of Manteca/SSJID partnership has yielded one of the most effective storm run-off systems in the South San Joaquin Valley. The city operates a series of storm retention basins in conjunction with many of its 48 municipal parks. This allows controlled releases into pipes that connect with the SSJID irrigation ditches and carry the water to the San Joaquin River. As a result, Manteca isn’t plagued with storm run-off problems that are proving difficult for other valley cities to handle.

Water Conservation Program

In the past, SSJID has invested over $2.5 million in its On-Farm Water Conservation Program, designed to maximize water conservation, improve crop yields, and provide growers financial incentives to make improvements to individual farm irrigation practices. The program, along with other District water management practices, enabled the District to satisfy new regulatory requirements as well as support its ongoing efforts to preserve existing water rights. The District’s Board of Directors decides each year whether to fund the program and the amount of the funding. Due to budgetary reasons, the On-Farm Water Conservation Program has been temporarily suspended.