The East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its board of directors meeting on Monday, August 27, 2018 at the Exeter Museum’s upstairs conference room, in, of all places, Exeter. It was a balmy 95 degrees at 3:00pm when Chairman Ed Milanesio called the meeting to order. We all saluted the flag including the phrase “under God.” Karen Yohannes, a stakeholder with some land in white areas spoke up during the public comment item. Yohannes asked the board to consider the importance of transparency when discussing the sticky topic of who owns the seepage flows. Because this is one of the debatable issues that could lead to legal wrangling there is a tendency to place this subject in closed session strategy status. Good for her.
The agenda was approved, as were the minutes. Executive Officer Michael Hagman showed the directors the proposed changes in the Kaweah Sub Basin MOU between EKGSA and the other two GSAs in the sub basin. The change is to do away with sub basin wide tech committee and replace them with individual tech committees. This has been discussed before and both the Mid Kaweah and the Greater Kaweah GSAs have already agreed. The board approved as well. Hagman had other housekeeping chores most entities experience as they grow. As EO Hagman has some authorization to spend money at his discretion but due to changes in consulting agreements he needed the authorization to become an official policy. The board agree to this as well.
Next Hagman tossed out the announcement EKGSA will need another $500,000 to make ends meet until the end of the year. However, as Director Tim Gobler pointed out this will come back in grant funds provided the state holds up its end of the bargain. So, the call for funds was a bit more palatable. Provost & Pritchard and GEI Engineers have accelerated their spending by tens of thousands of dollars monthly as the as things grow closer and closer to the GSP. The board agreed to spend this money up front.
Attorney Ravi Patel spoke about the ubiquitous Form 700 Conflict of Interest Code. There have been many laws to come along after this was first put in place. In conjunction with Tulare County Counsel Patel recommended the board approve changes to the way this requirement is listed in the books to stay current. Yohannes said many of the other GSAs have an automatic agenda item where directors are able to recues themselves should they have a conflict and she suggested EKGSA do the same. The board directed Hagman to do so.
The advisory committee met last month and where the draft numbers for the water budget developed by GEI were reviewed. You may recall this report. Director Joe Ferrara is the committee chair and he reported there were figures from pre-federal projects to compare current conditions. P&P’s Trilby Barton updated the board on the outreach efforts. There have been mildly successful public meetings and various NGOs have been mildly helpful in getting the word to the disadvantaged community in the sub basin. P&P’s engineer Matt Klinchuch explained the importance and strategy of using pre-dam figures complied by the US Bureau of Reclamation in preparing the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project. An attorney wrote a letter requesting one of his client’s hard rock wells be exempted. EKGSA responded by saying it will consider it in coordination of the other GSAs.
Some folks in the Kaweah Sub Basin felt EKGSA has been the rock in the sandal when it comes to the timeliness of developing a basin-wide water budget. Hagman said GEI’s Larry Rodriquez made a public statement setting that belief aside as unwarranted. All present agreed there needs to be better communication and will direct staff to be sure this takes place.
Klinchuch gave a technical update. He emphasized all of the figures are draft and subject to refinement. He said GEI released the sub basin inflows as; 290,000 a/f irrigation return flows, 158,000 a/f conveyance percolation, 130,000 a/f precipitation, 80,000 a/f natural channel and 44,000 a/f of direct recharge. Klinchuch also showed a slide of figures developed between 1946 and 1950 by the Bureau in preparing for the Friant Division of the CVP. The hydrology was based on the years between 1921 and 1946. Of course, many of the variable have changed radically since then but this gives the historical view to compare to current conditions. As Hagman said this will provide context. Groundwater inflow and the amount of cotton planted has changed. I found it a bit complicated.
Next the GSP chapter development was discussed. The basin setting should be ready sometime next month, the administrative information is well underway and getting project ideas together for consideration is also moving forward. The public unveiling of the draft GSP for comment is fast approaching. July 1st, 2019 is the date. The thresholds for undesirable results has yet to be set. The goal is to get a groundwater model together by November. Hagman said the amount of upcoming work will be “massive.” Gobler said to identify the half a dozen or so key policy issues that can be started without the final data in place.
Hagman next said there is a potential litigation, there always is. He will speak with Patel about this so as much transparency can be maintained. Also Patel is getting married and moving to the Bay Area. Good for him. Hagman said he’s done a great job. I know him as a kind and thoughtful man and wish him the best blessings. The meeting then adjourned.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW.
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.
EAST KAWEAH GSA 315 E. Lindmore Street, Lindsay, CA 93247. Telephone 559/562-2534. Mailing address PO Box 908 Lindsay, CA 93247 Meetings are generally the 4th Monday of the month at the Lindsay Wellness Center at 3:00 pm.
Members: County of Tulare, City of Lindsay, Exeter ID, Ivanhoe ID, Lindsay Strathmore ID, Lindmore ID and Stone Corral ID
Staff: Michael Hagman – Executive Director, Ravi Patel – Attorney