The Consolidated Irrigation District’s board of directors met at its Selma headquarters on Wednesday, November 8, 2017. Before the CID meeting was called to order by Chairman Larry Cruff I attended a meeting of Vistage. I’m not trying to drop names but Greg Musson of Gar Tootelian Inc. invited me. Before Musson I’d not heard of Vistage. Retired investment banker Neil Paschall of Visalia chairs the group of CEOs and business owners. About a dozen of us met at the owners’ box in Chukchansi Stadium in downtown Fresno. Dr. David Bardsley was the speaker. His topic was increasing one’s intelligence at any age and stage of life. After all, as Bardlsley pointed out when your mind is performing better you get better results, including at work. I had a good time and learned some important strategies to improve the way my mind works. Thankfully I’ve set the bar low so there’s plenty of room for improvement. The group of men and women at Vistage were kind and capable. It’s just the thing for the creative mind engaged in securing water.
Back to the water. After the housekeeping chores like approval of the minutes and financial reports General Manager Phil Desatoff reported on the Central Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency saying the preliminary reports estimates has CKGSA (which is CID area wise) overdraft greater than Raisin City Water District’s overdraft. The report prepared by the engineering firm Provost & Pritchard Engineering and Dr. Ken Schmidt. CKGSA is looking at 38,000 a/f of overdraft, more than 10,000 a/f more than Raisin City. Desatoff said this didn’t get down to the detail of how much is due to pumping and how much is underground flow. A draft document of the figures is due later this month. The entire Kings River Sub Basin’s overdraft is 220,000 a/f. P&P’s Ron Samuelian has been coordinating the sub basin. The board recognizes it needs more recharge. CID is estimating another 500 acres of ponds at least. The soil here is sandy and good for recharge. Who knows if more recharge will cause more underground loss? We won’t know for a while yet. There are new ponding basins at the Cities of Kingsburg and Selma. Some of the basins are for flood control and can’t take recharge until the month of May. Director Earl Hudson asked what kind of cattle prod could be used to get some of the other cities. There was a schism between some of the cities within CID and CID over how to form the overlaying GSA. I think it was five of the cities broke off at the last moment and formed the South Kings GSA. But SKGSA gets its surface water from CID. So the cities’ will have to start collecting rain water or purchasing flood runoff. Dave Elias is the Selma City manager and his city is being proactive at establishing recharge areas near conveyance lines.
CID is trying to pass a 218 election again. CID brings in $3 million and that’s $500,000 short of breaking even. That money has been made up by water sales. The voters in CID have not be kind to increasing the assessments. The 218 elections have not passed in the pass. The hypothetical budget Desatoff presented showed a $1.6 million for the extra 500 acres of recharge basins. The district needs a reserve fund for all manner of needed equipment, property and personnel. SGMA has been a big expense for districts but the drought and increased regulations have driven many entities to restructure their funding on land based assessment revenue as opposed to the more-fickle water sales revenue. Over all CID needs almost $2.9 million more per year. Some funding options in addition to or despite a 218 increase will be new surface and groundwater fee. If the 218 is successful the cost of water could double. For CID that isn’t a sledge hammer blow to the temple as they have the lowest cost per a/f I’m aware of in the Valley except for Alta ID in Dinuba. Don’t take this as carved in stone, I haven’t conducted a survey. Hmmm? Yet one more thing to do. Historic deliveries in CID is between 2.3 and 2.6 a/f average. Desatoff presented some sample figures involving ET values, base rates, groundwater fees and surface water fees. Within CID there are two divisions: Consolidated and Lone Tree. I believe the distinction lies on which canal system a grower accesses for his surface deliveries. Straight groundwater pumping would be another category for those without a connection to the system, of course the surface water fee would not apply to that subgroup. Proposed assessments for the Consolidated portion will be $42.40 per acre, Long tree would be $48.42 per acre and pumpers would be $30.57 per acre. There was much discussion and the audience in the room was bigger than I’ve ever seen before. That could partly be the result of the first CKGSA meeting scheduled at 2:00 pm. Desatoff said the state staff wants meters on every well and turnout. Cruff said then the district turns into as despised an organization as PG&E. Cruff doesn’t like PG&E. Turlock ID also provides power and you have to get past security guards and sequestered areas with locked doors to attend a public meeting. Hudson said if CID becomes like PG&E it can donate to political campaigns and run television commercials.
Attorney Lauren Layne explained some of the ins and outs of structuring 218 proposals. Right now CID has very accurate measuring methods sans meters. Eventually it will cost close to an estimated $80 million to fully meter the district and there won’t be enough of a difference in the amount of water measured to tell. One thing for sure a sub basin doesn’t want the State Board to take control.
So where does the district go from here? It has to educate the growers about the need to pass a 218 election. It has to conduct an engineering report to justify the increase. It has to conduct and election. There are other considerations like polling the growers and taking their opinions into account. Hudson pointed out if the district doesn’t do something for itself the alternative of the state coming in could be a very ugly situation. The meeting then adjourned and opened as the CKGSA.
Layne called the meeting to order at 2:45pm. The same board and officer positions for the GSA as the district were nominated and appointed. The legal firm of Baker, Manock and Jensen was retained. Under public comment I praised the board for serving almonds and raisins as snacks. I’ve been to meetings in this Valley where dried cranberries and peanuts are served. Drives me crazy. There were no board reports so far.
Desatoff said the Prop One grant application is underway. Layne explained the North Fork GSA will act as the grant applicant since it has no history. That’s a good thing sometimes in the world of public grants, evidently. There are seven GSAs in the Kings River Sub Basin: North Kings GSA, McMullin Area GSA, James ID GSA, North Fork Kings GSA, Kings River East GSA, Central Kings GSA and South King GSA. The Prop One money could be split seven ways but that has yet to be decided.
As for the budget – there is none. CID has been covering the cost so far and I don’t think that has amounted to much. Maybe some legal fees and a bit of staff time but that will change now. Meeting schedules must be set, establish rates for parcels outside of CID, establish a website, schedule and conduct public meetings, prepare a GSP and review system capacities and choke points. There is less than 400 acres of white area and how to get money from that area is still a question. Layne pointed out districts that are minimally impacted by SGMA happen to be the same districts who wrote SGMA.
Amanda Monaco, J.D. sent an email from the Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability giving notice it wants to apply for a grant to provide outreach to the Tombstone Territory, a small area south of Sanger. A representative from Fresno County said they have had dealings with the Leadership for Justice & Accountability before. The group opposed the county before the State Board – if I heard correctly – but lost. Anyway, another group that likes to modify the word justice for its interests is asking for public money and wants the CKGSA to write a letter of support to include in its application.
Desatoff was appointed to represent CKGSA at the sub basin coordination and he will also set the calendar. Elias offered the use of Selma’s facilities. CID’s board room isn’t very big so that’d be a good idea. Finally, Desatoff was authorized to provide the DWR a notice of GSP preparation. There was a question about what will be included in the GSP. Layne and Desatoff gave a couple of examples such as water budgets and how to define sustainable yield. Hudson asked if the GSA gets credit for channel loss from CID’s unlined canal and the answer is yes if Desatoff and Layne have anything to say about it. That was that. The GSA meeting adjourned and the meeting went back to the CID meeting.
CID Redux 218ing it
It was pointed out the clock starts ticking off for five-months if the board chooses to hold a 218 election until the vote takes place. One suggestion was to go out and talk with the landowners and see if the wind blows fair. The vote is weighted on the value of the land. Landowners who don’t live in the district can vote even though they can’t vote for the district’s board. You have to live in the district to vote and or serve on the board since it’s an irrigation district. Water districts allows votes and seats on the board to landowners or their proxy. Doesn’t matter if you live in a water district you can’t vote unless you own land. There may some variations of this in special circumstances. I have no fear at least one of attorneys reading this will let me know if I screwed up. Director Ray Moles asked the logical question as to whether the proposed increase will cover the district’s needs for several years and cover the extra SGMA costs. The board also reviewed the existing stable revenue and sources totaling $808,000 and this money comes from power generation at Pine Flat, cooperative agreements with the cities CID serve and other stuff. This was followed by a quick, short, closed session.
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CONSOLIDATED IRRIGATION DISTRICT – 2255 Chandler St, Selma, CA 93662 Telephone; 559/896-1660
CID covers 145,000 acres mostly in South Central Fresno County. Surface water supplies: Kings River. CID is its own GSA
General Manager – Phil Desatoff, Attorney – Doug Jensen, Water Master – Walt Frost, Controller – Margaret Macias
Board of Directors – President Larry Cruff, Thomas Benzler, Earl Hudson, Tony Lewis, Ray Moles