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County gets $1 million from feds for groundwater recharge project

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Posted: Monday, November 22, 2004 10:00 pm

A small portion of the money needed to help recharge the parched groundwater basin in eastern San Joaquin County and keep salt from intruding into well water is part of a $388 billion federal spending bill approved by Congress on Saturday.

The spending bill, which is some 1,000 pages long, includes $1 million for the Farmington Groundwater Recharge and Seasonal Habitat Project, which will help groundwater in the Lodi area, but primarily in Victor, Lockeford and areas to the south.

The goal of the $33.5 million project by the Stockton East Water District is to pour 35,000 acre-feet of water per year on 800 to 1,200 acres of farm land through agreements between the water district and individual landowners.

The area served by the Farmington project is generally between Highway 99 and Jack Tone Road and from the Mokelumne River south to Temple Creek, which is between Stockton and Manteca.

Ed Steffani, manager of the neighboring North San Joaquin Water Conservation District, said that landowners east of Jack Tone Road will be welcome to participate, even though Jack Tone is the eastern boundary set by Stockton East.

"Projects like this one provide us with tools to assure a safe, reliable water supply and are essential to sustain our growing population," said Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who represents the Lodi area. "It's a great start toward improving water quality in the Central Valley."

Stockton East officials anticipate eventually collecting $25 million from the federal government and the remaining $8.5 million from state Propositions 13 and 50 and from local water agency fees.

Other allocations involving San Joaquin County include:

• $3 million to supplement money for annual maintenance dredging in the Stockton Channel of the San Joaquin River, It will be conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

• $2.5 million partial reimbursement of interest charges for local property owners who financed the Stockton metropolitan area flood control project.

• $1.25 million to maintain a statewide network for insect traps and other tools to detect serious agricultural pests.

• $490,000 to finance two years of operations for the business forecasting center at University of the Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business. The project generates business and economic forecasts for San Joaquin County and neighboring areas:

• $650,000 for the San Joaquin Reads II Program, a not-for-profit volunteer organization promoting the education of the youth of San Joaquin County.

• $1 million to develop a four-lane access on Daggett Road west of Stockton that connects the mainland to Rough and Ready Island and $500,000 of safety improvements for Vasco Road between Livermore and Brentwood.

The federal spending bill includes money for Veterans Administration health programs and additional staffing for the FBI, intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. It also includes funds to fight violent and white-collar crime, Pombo said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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