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Water district has plenty of resources

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Posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 10:00 pm

Seven honest and able people have stepped forward and offered to continue the work of the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District.

Sometimes all the thanks you get in a difficult struggle is someone willing to carry on when you can't.

Fred Weybret, 85, our chairman, worked 33 years trying to bring more water from the Mokelumne River to the surrounding area to save our declining well water.

We are proud of his effort, but it has been a frustrating grind. Without even enough money to maintain its aging system of ditches and pipes, there never seemed a time when NSJWCD could expand its deliveries or pursue an initiative that might arrest the perilous decline in our water table.

In the summer of 2007, with the district's precious "wet year" water right openly questioned by the state authorities, directors ran out of time and cheap ideas. They made the difficult decision to levy a fee on wells.

NSJWCD directors avoided pump charges for years, knowing it would be unpopular. They are probably guilty of underestimating the community resentment.

When Weybret's hearing problems finally reached a point where he could not contribute, he reluctantly resigned. It felt like jumping off a horse in the middle of a creek. There was no way to know who would jump back in the saddle and take up the cause he cared so much about.

But when the job was advertised as vacant, something very gratifying happened. Seven people applied - Mark Beck, Larry Mackey, Eileen St. Yves and Martin Church, all of Acampo, and Neal Colwell, Fran Forkas and Richard Prima, of Lodi.

All seem committed to protecting underground water. Colwell, Forkas and Prima have professional experience with water.

For once, NSJWCD has plenty of resources to work with.

We must all be thankful that the volunteer spirit lives on in Lodi.

- Lodi News-Sentinel

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