The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its board meeting on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at the Kern County Administrative Building in downtown Bakersfield. Chairman Dennis Mullins called the meeting to order at 8:00 am and there was no public comment. Although, had I been sharper on the get go I would have asked they not put the extra table by the coffee as it covered up the electrical plug I use. Steve Collup of Arvin Edison Water Storage District helped me push the table far enough from the building support column it was up against to barely fit a chair. Apologies to Dana Munn, Shafter Wasco ID for shaking up his coffee while he was trying to stir in his sugar. Clearly a case of passive/aggressive, anti-press sentiments by the janitor that set up the room before the meeting. Or maybe a practical joke to remind me I need to lose weight.
The minutes were approved with minor changes and approved. The treasurer’s report was next and it was also approved. Patty Poire, KGA reported the $1.5 million Prop One grant is coming in. the board was happy about that. This grant will be used by the GSAs in the Kern River Sub Basin for the costs of forming GSAs in the first place. Some other grants from DWR will require some alterations. The KGA was supposed to install some climate change stations to be eligible for another $220,000. The agreements were delayed by a year and that threw everything off kilter. Poire suggested and ad hoc committee and assigning the management of this grant to Provost & Pritchard.
Poire reported the Communication & Engagement Plan was in draft. Trilby Barton of P&P presented the plan to the board. She said there will be updates and changes as it is a living document. She went over the document in detail by reading the two page table of contents. Bless her heart. Mullins stopped and asked if there were any comments. Bless his heart. A man from Chevron asked who to talk with about some gaps in how the oil and gas industry is treated in this draft. Poire said this is a living document and there are opportunities to weigh in. Barton then filled the board in on some outreach surveys of stakeholders and Mullins thanked her.
Executive Officer Terry Erlewine reported there is evidence water is flowing from the Kern Sub Basin into the Tule Sub Basin. There is a letter to the Eastern Tule GSA about resolving this issue he’d like to send. Munn said there is also the impact of subsidence in that area to the Friant Kern Canal that is preventing deliveries to Kern County. The board wanted that included in the letter. Attorney Valarie Kincaid said SGMA does recognize that one sub basin can’t negatively impact another but doesn’t go into detail about resolving this. If I understood she believed this letter will be useful in establishing future dialog. The board approved.
Erlewine said in Special Activity Agreement #4 calls for the need to organize an Activity Agreement Management Committee. He gave the board a heads up and said there has been some districts already signed up.
Attorney Ernest Conant addressed the board about a SGMA Litigation Expense Sharing Pool under ACWA. He said the E&O insurance won’t cover all the possible lawsuits that could be filed in response to GSPs. He said this is a trial balloon to see if there is interest. All the GSAs could chip in $10,000 and Pool management will determine if the lawsuit holds statewide precedence. This will most likely be a Mandamus action and will not cover adjudication. Bill Taube, Kern Water Bank said he’d heard about this at the last ACWA and there were some problems. For instance; KGA is a big GSA and would small GSAs may not have the where with all to support this. Kincaid said KGA isn’t covered under the ACWA JPIA E&O insurance because there are no direct employees. The structure relies on contracting work out to P&P and GEI and such. Taube said getting more buy in will depend on how the costs will be based. He said perhaps by the acre. Other folks had trouble with this as well. The idea a committee will decide who gets representation paid for by the pool doesn’t give value to any hope of getting your investment back.
Erlewine reported there have been outreach workshops recently and the turnout was good. He also said the budget has been exceeded by $5,000 per month and he’s looking to cut costs where possible but the GSP may require more financial assistance. Mullins said the folks from Self Help Enterprises did a good presentation at the workshops. Larry Rodriguez, GEI told the board the surface water accounting is just about finished. The only thing Kincaid had in public session was the intent to work with the other GSAs on splitting the Prop One loot. The meeting then went into closed session.
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SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:
Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Cawelo Water District, City of Shafter, Kern County Water Agency, County of Kern, Kern-Tulare Water District, Kern Water Bank Authority, North Kern Water Storage District, Olcese Water District, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Semitropic Water Storage District, Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District, Tejon-Castaic Water District, West Kern Water District, Westside District Water Authority & Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District