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Irrigation Begins for Southern San Joaquin Valley Farms

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The South San Joaquin Water District has given the go ahead to irrigate water in now arriving for Ripon, Escalon and Manteca, just in time.

“Well, it takes a lot of worry off the growers,” Dave Phippen, an almond farmer in Manteca, said Thursday.

The recent rain had put off the need for farmers to irrigate but now, the plants need it and for those three communities, there is plenty to go around.

“Basically, this is a real important time to make sure the trees have every bit of moisture and nutrients they need to retain the crop,” Phippen said.

The South San Joaquin Water District’s plan decades ago to build Woodword Reservoir is why those committees have water, when others don’t. But that doesn’t mean these farmers are wasting any of it.

Phippen’s farm is moving to a drip water system.

“It’s nearly 100 percent efficient, so when we put the water on we know we are getting every last drop to where the roots are. We are not wasting any of it,” Phippen said.

Phippen says he will make it through this drought, but the scare should be a wake up call for Californians.

“We have not added any water storage, to my knowledge, since the New Melones Dam and I think that was prior to 1980, so we need more water storage because we have added a lot of people to the state,” Phippen said.

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