Kimball community frustrated by water cutoff
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Jun 13, 2014 | 4552 views | 4 4 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Drought at Kimball High
Players on the Kimball High baseball team run through exercises in a dusty outfield Wednesday. Bob Brownne/Tracy Press
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Past and present coaches from Kimball High School were among a group of upset residents complaining to the Tracy Unified School District board on Tuesday about the poor condition of Kimball’s playing fields.

West Side Irrigation District, in response to an order from the California State Water Resources Control Board, shut off its irrigation pumps Monday. The irrigation district normally draws water from Old River from April to November, but the statewide drought has led to unprecedented restrictions.

The former Kimball athletic director, Steve Thornton, told the board during the public comment time that the grass fields used by the softball and baseball teams were dying again after two previous tries to bring them back to life. He said he didn’t understand why Kimball’s classrooms were on city water lines while the fields were watered — with restrictions — by the West Side Irrigation District.

“West Side Irrigation only allows us to have water for seven months of the year,” he said. “November, December, January, February and March, we don’t get water, so our fields basically go without water for five months.”

The assistant superintendent for business services, Casey Goodall, explained that the school district had used the West Side Irrigation District because the school was built outside city limits. He said the decision to not water the fields in the winter was due to the city’s need to reduce water use for landscaping.

Thornton said that drought conditions had caused the fields to die twice and the school’s baseball and softball teams had to find another place to play home games. Softball teams played at the Tracy Sports Complex and baseball at West High School, but neither had fields for practice.

He said the baseball team practiced on the school’s tennis courts using whiffle balls.

“It was rough on the kids, the coaches and the parents,” Thornton said. “I think the kids of Kimball deserve to play on their own field. It just doesn’t seem right we can’t find water.”

The father of a Kimball athlete argued that because his son had to play home games at West, those games should be considered away games and athletes should be provided transportation. He said he was paying $150 in transportation fees, but the players were not receiving the service.

“There is no long-term solution in place for watering our fields; we need to change that,” he said. “Why should a Kimball athlete pay the price for inadequate foresight on our part. The plan doesn’t work and now we’re paying the price.”

Kimball High football coach Charles Spikes summed up his feelings in a request: “Please help us find a long-term solution.”

During the board’s comments, Trustee Gregg Crandall addressed the matter by saying that the board didn’t make decisions with the intent to cause trouble. He also stressed that the recent decision to shut off the water was not Goodall’s, as some people had said.

“We’re trying to do the right thing,” Crandall said. “We’re working on it.”

• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at or 830-4225.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 14, 2014
Getting angry about the field being dry and ignoring the fact that CA students are among the worst educated in the country truly shows how misplaced the communities values are.
June 13, 2014
Blaming this on the drought is an oversimplification of the problem. The real issue stems from the decision to water the fields with irrigation district water while delivering city water to Kimball's infrastructure. Water conservation in times of drought is indeed important for ALL of us, that is not in question. The issue is as follows:

1. Student equity. There are 2 other public high schools in town that don't have this problem and their athletes don't have to make the same sacrifice. In addition, all the elementary and middle schools, not to mention the city fields are being watered.

2. A long-term solution to a poor decision needs to be found- quickly!

3. Until that solution is found, TUSD needs to find a workable fix for Kimball's athletes and parents so that they are not short-changed simply due to the fact that they live in the wrong attendance area.

We hope that TUSD makes good on their assurance that they're doing what they can to fix the issue.
June 13, 2014
"It just doesn’t seem right we can’t find water.”

You'd think you'd hear something like that from a farmer trying to water his crops and make a living than from a coach. While I feel for the kids, watering a sports field should not take precedent in times of drought.

June 13, 2014
I agree with amustsee!

TUSD, you built this school. Please take care of it. Much of the current landscaping is ugly and many parts that you water could be utilized more efficiently. For example the area around the pool. There is no need for the grass around the pool or the plants between the pool and sub gym. Those areas should be cemented over to save water and fencing extended to provide a larger area within the pool area.

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