The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at its headquarters west of Tulare. I got here a little early so I took another shot at the breakfast burrito offered. They keep a bottle of Dave’s Death Sauce at the counter and I tried it again. Very hot, habaneros, wash your hands several times. Chairman Dave Bixler called the meeting at 9:00 am. He invited the public to speak and Richard Zach who just recently completed the history of TID, “The Quest for Water.” Zach said there are important documents belonging to the district dating back to the 1800s that would benefit from fire proof and water proof safes. He’s found some possible donors willing to give a safe.
The minutes were approved and Water Master Marco Crenshaw gave his report saying the district is in the middle of a water run. That caused Director Dave Martin to ask him to keep the deliveries going longer than if this is the middle. Well, yes, Crenshaw said water will run into the middle of next month. As I write this the burn is subsiding a bit and my face is going numb. General Manager Aaron Fukuda said some of the water is going to the Wutchumna Ditch and it’s a good deal for the district. He also said the gates on the Terminus Dam are automated but who ever installed it set it for manual. The Army Corps of Engineers is slowly working the bugs out. Back to Crenshaw’s report, TID has an estimated 53,538 a/f in storage between the Kaweah River and its CVP supply at Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River.
Wayne Fox gave his Superintendent report saying the general maintenance work is going well. There has been no outside the district work. One of the new recharge locations is starting to take water and shows good promise.
Controller Kathi Artis gave her report and reviewed the financial statements. She said the district is staying on budget. She cited several figures that bore this out. The board approved paying its bills and Artis gave an audit update. I washed my hands twice with soap and water and I just rubbed my eye. I may have temporarily blinded myself. The district needs to install one of those eye wash stations near the food counter. If all politics are local it would be difficult to get more local than a special district. TID is big enough to take in and spend millions of dollars annually but that’s small change to a county or even a medium sized city. It’s the norm for a water board to be made up of self-employed farmers. Farmers are always going broke and they know the value of a product or service they use. These skills are used when reviewing a district’s expenses. I’d venture to say if the State of California put in a fraction of one percent of the scrutiny shown by the average water board our taxes would drop by have or more. Not a lot of waste in most farmer lead districts. The board approved the financial and bill paying portion of the agenda.
Mid Kaweah GSA
Fukuda reported on SGMA matters and said the Kaweah Sub Basin Technical Advisory Committee needs to be reassigned so to speak. The management team will take over the TAC to prevent redundancy. This requires a rewrite of the MOU. A new feature of the website will be an enhanced calendar of all the SGMA meetings in the Kaweah Sub Basin. There has been confusion of what his happening where. Good for them. The MKGSA budget is ready to be presented at the next meeting. The expense is $1.123 million and $667,000 in grants coming in. TID’s share of the cost is higher than the other two members: the Cities of Tulare and Visalia, because the district is participating in the Sky Temp program. The giant, flying magnets can’t operate over cities. The MKGSA needs a new attorney and that will be looked at also. By the way – Tulare Mayor Carlton Jones – is no longer on the MKGSA board. There are three legal report on surface and groundwater rights. There will be a workshop later this month to work through some of these matters. Much of this has to do with incorporating channel lose in the sub basin’s water budget. Paul Hendrix, former TID GM and now Executive Officer of the MKGSA said Visalia has hired a hydrogeologist. He also recommended consulting with Thomas Harder of Southern California. This is the same consultant being used by the Tule River Sub Basin. Hendrix said there is very little question about Friant and other imported sources. The question will be who gets the Kaweah River salvaged water being held behind the dam. Martin said the wells in the city need to be accounted. He also asked since he’s a property owner in TID and Tulare County and the Kaweah Delta WSD how are the taxes and assessments for SGMA being allocated. He doesn’t want to have to pay for three different GSAs. Hendrix said the folks in Visalia also pay a small KDWSD fee as well and the money trial will have to be cleared up. The powers that be in Sacramento pat themselves on the back for make SGMA local control. They couldn’t figure out how to make SGMA worked if they tried so they once again dumped the heavy lifting on the tax payer
Fukuda gave the board an update on the Temperance Flat Prop One mess at the California Water Commission. In fairness the CWC was handed the Water Storage Investment Process and the negative outcome has splashed back on the CWC. Temp Flat might be able to get $171 million of Prop One funds but the cost of the state’s strings attached is more than that. An investors group has formed to have Stantec Engineers to come up with a model of operating Temp Flat that could pave the way for the project being built by private money. Fukuda ran some figures and depending on the amount of water the costs could range from $300 to $550 per acre foot. There are more inputs being developed that could bring the costs down. A new entity, neither the old SJVWIA JPA or the MOU investors group needs to be formed. This new group will be the face of Temp Flat. There is $8 million Prop One the JPA requested for some environmental permitting. Are there strings attached? Maybe. Martin said during the drought you couldn’t hear a frog. One wet year and you heard a chorus. He said Sacramento needs to know other parts of the state need water for life. Director Rick Borges said Prop One was and is just a political shuffling of money. Martin rhetorically asked how a farmer fallows half his land and still pay the taxes on it without the income. Also, subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal caused the Friant Water Authority to solicit an RFP to fix the canal that Stantec won.
At the northwest side of Tulare where the city abuts the farm is a ditch known as the Gin Ditch. There are five houses along an orchard with a ditch running against their backyards. One homeowner threw a pipe in the ditch and covered with dirt excavated when he installed a swimming pool. That needs a do-over since he buried the pipe four inches deep and put a well and horse barn over where the ditch was. Fukuda said the district could pipe the ditch and prevent any encroachment on the easement. The cost is estimated at $60,000 with $40,000 of that being materials. The board directed Fukuda to see if he can work out a cost share with the landowners.
The SB 623 Safe & Affordable Drinking Water Act was removed from the budget bill but the guts of it will be back. Instead of the original $140 million tax on urban water and $30 million fertilizer tax on ag there will be $5 million dedicated to deal with lead in the drinking water of child care centers. ACWA has come up with different ways to tax ag to solve the problem. That got Martin’s nitrate producing goat. He logically asked how farmers on the Valley floor are contributing nitrates to the water of communities laying along the base of the Sierra Nevada.
Fukuda presented the board with a revised 2018 budget. An increase of water supplies has changed things dramatically. More than five times the expected water brings more than five times the expenses and income. The board approved. Next the board was asked to approved Resolution No. 18-07; consenting to county elections for division one and two. The board did so.
The directors had a chance to tell their tales. Borges said Friant is now handing out agendas in binders so he expects to be selling used binders in a few months. He also said there was the final NASA flight for snow. Martin reported on the Kaweah Basin Water Quality Association. He said there were 12 people who received thank you very little letters over imperfect IRWMP coverage within the area. Next was closed session that had: two real property negotiations, one existing and one anticipated cases of litigation, labor negotiations and three liability claims. And that was that.
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TULARE IRRIGATION DISTRICT
6826 Ave 240, Tulare, CA 93274 Office: 559/686-3425
Board: David G. Bixler- President, Richard S. Borges, Jr.-Vice President, Scott Rogers, Dave Martin & Michael Thomas
Staff: Aaron Fukuda-General Manager, Kathi Artis–District Controller, Wayne Fox–Superintendent, Marco Crenshaw–District Watermaster & Alex Peltzer-Attorney.
About: The Tulare Irrigation District was organized September 21, 1889. The original proposal for the formation of an irrigation district covering 219,000 acres, extending from the Sierra Nevada foothills to Tulare Lake, was eventually reduced to 32,500 acres. The District continued in this status until January of 1948 when the so-called Kaweah Lands” (approximately 11,000 acres) were annexed. In October of 1948, approximately 31,000 acres, compromising the area served by the Packwood Canal Company were annexed to the District. A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contract was signed in 1950 providing an annual supply of 30,000 acre-feet of Class 1 water, and up to 141,000 acre-feet of Class 2 water from the Friant-Kern Canal. The District and the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District have coordinated efforts to enhance the recharge of groundwater within the Kaweah Basin. During high flow times KDWCD may use the recharge basins with the District for recharge purposes. Further, KDWCD has historically provided for a financial incentive program through which the District sustains the level of groundwater recharge from supply sources into the District. This historical program was recently reinstated by both districts in lieu of the District’s plans to concrete-line this canal to conserve the surface water. TID is a member of the Mid Kaweah GSA.