Faces of Water Q&A – April 2018

  • by Keith Patterson
  • Apr 20, 2018
  • Newsletters

Keith Patterson, Senior Ditch Tender, Yuba County Water Agency

Telling the stories of the people who work to deliver California’s water…

1.) Describe your job.

As a ditch tender, I divert water and manage irrigation water for farmers and ranchers in southern Yuba County. From rice to peaches, and almonds to pasture grass, I control the weirs, valves and canal ways that provide water to four different water districts in our boundaries. I’ve worked 10 years for YCWA.

2.) What does your average day look like?

On an average day, I may receive as many as 40 calls from district members requesting water for their crops and fields. I also keep accurate records of water usage for State Water Resources Control Board requirements. Additionally, I maintain and repair access ways and control points that are vital to our system, as well as address nature’s own issues – like beavers that plug up pipes and streams.

3.) How do your duties differ throughout the year?

The season usually begins around April 1, when the demand for water is like a roller coaster because of rice flooding and spring bloom for trees. Once the crops are fully grown and water is not needed, things slow down and maintenance can be done. During the fall and early winter, water needs mostly vary on the weather. Once the rains begin, water levels are lowered and it becomes more about drain control and keeping storm flows from damaging infrastructure. During winter months, duck season accounts for the majority of water usage. Duck season ends Jan. 31, so that’s when we shut the system off.

4.) Tell us something about yourself that most of us don’t know.

Before I started with YCWA, I worked with Les Schwab Tire Center in Marysville for seven years. While I was there, I met and did service for all of the water customers that I serve now, which really helped create my relationships with them.

5.) What do you like to do in your free time?

When all of the work is done and it’s time to relax, I love to travel. Recently, my girlfriend and I drove to Las Vegas and stopped along the way to check out the Valley of Fire State Park. Oftentimes, I take trips to Fort Bragg and Reno, Nevada. I also enjoy hunting deer, turkey and pheasant.


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