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North San Joaquin Water Conservation District prepares to present use plans to state board

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Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 10:40 am, Wed Jan 30, 2013.

The North San Joaquin Water Conservation District wrestled with how to best present their plans to use more of their 20,000 acrefoot water right to the state water board in a board of director's meeting Monday night.

There are two North San Joaquin petitions currently filed with the state water resources control board. One is for an expansion of the place of use, which amounts to bringing the state board up to speed with the new boundaries of the district. The other is the addition of underground water storage.

The board intends to add a petition regarding the Tracy Lakes project to the file.

There was a long period of deliberation regarding the best way to present the district's intentions to the state board. Directors did not want to limit the district's future options of points of diversion, but they were concerned that limited cash flow could close those doors.

"I think there are a couple of ways to skin this cat, and you need to pick the one that's cheaper," said Brandon W. Nakagawa, a senior civil engineer for San Joaquin County.

Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney with Herum Crabtree, recommended against adding any additional points of diversion at this point in the process.

"Adding new points of diversion is most likely to be very expensive," said Spaletta, due to creating new pipelines and pumps, and the intensive analyses required for new points of diversion.

The district has retained Spaletta to help them through the process of presenting to the state board.

"We're required to get three quotes when we're spending over $10,000, but we'd be foolish to go with anyone else because of our relationship and history with Herum Crabtree," said board president Joe Petersen. Spaletta has worked extensively with the board in creating the first improvement district associated with North San Joaquin for the Tracy Lake project.

The board voted to change the petition presented to the state water board to include five points of diversion. These are the north ditch line, the south ditch line, the riparian area, the Woodbridge recharge area (formerly the CalFed project) and the Tracy Lake project. The petition will not include a point of diversion at Bear Creek, Coyote Creek or Gil Creek, unless or until those sites have functioning pumps and pipelines.

The board decided keep the petition filed regarding the district's expanded boundaries unless that expansion triggers expensive environmental reviews. If that's the case, the expansion will only include currently irrigated land.

The next regular meeting will be held on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in the Lodi Public Library.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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