The Westlands Water District held its Tuesday, April 17, 2018 board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters. To get right to it: Chairman Don Peracchivb called the meeting to order at 1:00 pm on the dot. Matt Rogers from Senator Kamala Harris’ office was in attendance. General Manager Tom Birmingham began his report with a stirring recitation of the virtues and positive impacts of former employee Dave Ciapponi. Mr. Ciapponi passed away last week. Those who know Birmingham know he isn’t given to immodest displays of emotion, but one could tell he lost a friend and the loss of Mr. Ciapponi is being mourned by at least one friend.
Deputy GM of Resources Russ Freeman gave the water supply report saying WWD delivered 18,000 a/f of water in March. Jones Pumping Plant averaged 2,700 cfs during the month. Upon announcement the US Bureau of Reclamation’s allocation of 20 percent of contract supplies for the west side Eric Johnson, owner of the Water Agency in Clovis spoke out saying such a small allocation in light of supplies is a sin, or something to that effect. Birmingham took advantage of this to explain to Rogers Westland’s perception of how broken California’s water supply allocations are. Assistant GM Johnny Amaral gave his report and there is a good deal of public outreach being conducted by WWD.
Directors took time to give an update on their activities. Director Dan Errotabere said the California Farm Water Coalition is doing well in its outreach. Director Tony Coelho announced the legal affairs committee recommends the firm of Moskowitz as the interim legal representation for the district.
The board adopted Resolution 111-18 unanimously. This will allow management to enter into a Warren Act contract with the Bureau. Resolution 112-18 was a negative declaration on the low flow efficiency improvements to pumping plant 7-1. The board also adopted it unanimously. Errotabere said Freeman and Kiti Campbell, Supervisor of Resources will be alternate members for various entities representing WWD. Freeman gave the board an update on groundwater conditions in the district. There was 54,000 a/f of pumping last year and that was considerably lower due to favorable USBR allocations. While that was good it was still half of the annual average. A good amount of pumping comes from below the Corcoran clay level. This is generally a confined aquifer.
Campbell updated the board on the Westlands GSA. She said public outreach is based on a series of workshops. There will be two workshops in May; both in English and Spanish. The info is dispersed by email, face book, newsletters and other methods. Turnout hasn’t been overwhelming. Amaral said the disadvantaged cities and the counties involved are helping and the communities themselves have been asked to help get the word out.
Director Larry Enos had Bobbi Ormonde, Deputy GM Finance report. She said the 2018 Benefit Assessment hearing needs to be set and the board set it for next month’s meeting. The budget transfers/augmentations, accounts payable and investment/financial reports were approved. Growers are looking at receiving some extra money coming their way because they were on the favorable side of an accounting error involving conveyance charges against the district.
The WWD Financing Corporation Board of Directors needs two new members. Ormonde said WWDFC directors Jim Anderson and of course Mr. Ciapponi will no longer serve. WWD Director Ryan Ferguson was appointed. On that note attorney Doug Brown of Stradling, Yocca, Carlson & Rauth of Newport Beach gave the board a presentation about the “Disclosure Responsibilities Under the Federal Securities Laws.” There were all kinds of ins and outs applying to these matters. Brown supplied the board and audience a nice, 21-page overview to refer to. I’m not positive but I don’t see why the firm of Stradling et al wouldn’t give an interested party a pdf of this condensed version. One thing I heard and you’d be wise to double check this – if you have a fiduciary relationship with your district and you’re speaking at a professional gathering like an ACWA conference on say groundwater overdraft; if there are bond raters and suits from lenders – you are on notice the accuracy of your speech will be held to the same stringent standard as a financial disclosure for investment purposes. Also, Brown strongly recommends an entity such as Westlands should only have one contact person for financial disclosure. This limits the confusion caused by inquiries from looky-loos, pesky reporters and a van full of kids and a dog looking to solve a mystery. At WWD Ormonde is the sole contact.
The meeting then went into closed session for 16 items listed ranging from existing litigation to personnel matters.
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Westlands Water District
3130 N. Fresno Street, Fresno CA 93703 Phone:559/224-1523
Board: Don Peracchi-President, Dan Errotabere – Vice President, Jim Anderson, William Bourdeau, Frank Coelho Jr., Larry Enos, Gary Esajian, Todd Neves & Sarah Woolf with two o’s.
Staff: Tom Birmingham-General Manager, -Attorney, Dan Pope-COO
About: Without irrigation, farming in the Westlands area of California would be limited and ineffectual. The history of Westlands is one of continual adaptation, careful water stewardship and advanced technology. By maintaining a fierce commitment to sustainability, the Westlands’ comprehensive water supply system continues to adapt, educate, and surpass conservation goals. Throughout its history, Westlands Water District has demonstrated a lasting dedication to water conservation and recognized that the long-term survival of its farms depends on the effective management of California’s precious water resources. From www.wwd.ca.gov