“The distribution layout is the very heart of an irrigation system. Service puts the dollars in the farmer’s pocket, and the better the service, the more income he receives from the soil which is his sole capital. Perfect service depends both upon the operating and construction features of the system: in the former, the personal equation of the ditch tender is the most important factor and in the latter, good ditches and good structures.”
– 1918, R.W. Olmsted, SSJID Chief Engineer
Accomplishing the engineering feat of large-scale irrigation has transformed south San Joaquin County. It was the boldest of visions held by previous SSJID Boards and other community leaders to risk their livelihoods to ensure that irrigation service could be sustained into the future. For over 100 years, SSJID has provided irrigation service to its customers to help create an industry-leading, world-class agricultural economy.
SSJID Distribution System Explained
SSJID jointly holds pre-1914 water rights with the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) on the Stanislaus River. SSJID delivers this historic water right water to our customers through a gravity conveyance system of canals, siphons, and tunnels from the Stanislaus River into Woodward Reservoir.
SSJID regulates water from Woodward Reservoir to irrigation customers via an extensive system, which includes 18 miles of main distribution canal, 312 miles of lateral pipelines, and 38 miles of open-channel canals. Nearly all of SSJID’s distribution system relies on gravity to convey water, an engineering feat that provides significant cost savings to local customers.
SSJID provides water to customers on a rotational basis. The distribution system and operating procedures are designed around a 10-day average rotation. The season begins typically in mid-March to early April and continues until early to mid-October. The rotation frequency may vary slightly by division based on crop types, irrigation methods or user requests.
SSJID’s irrigation distribution system is currently managed in discreet zones, or “divisions,” and operated by dedicated customer service staff called SSJID Division Managers. Irrigation Division. Maps can be found here.
Innovative Modernization and Conservation
SSJID has a long history of innovative projects designed to deliver water in an increasingly reliable, flexible, and efficient manner. These projects have included an on-farm flow measurement program, automation of the Main Distribution Canal, distribution system flow measurement and monitoring, automated flow-control and level control structures, float valves, weir-walls, extensive canal lining and conversion of open-channel canals and ditches to pipelines, and even pressurized irrigation service in one area of the District. The District continues to work to develop new and innovative ways to increase service, promote conservation, and comply with local and state regulation.
Agricultural Water Management Plans
Want to learn more about SSJID’s irrigation operations, modernization and water use? Please review the District’s Agricultural Water Management Plan here.