The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its board of directors meeting at the Kern County Board of Supervisors chamber in downtown Bakersfield. The room is a theater complete with stage lighting and even television studio lighting. That or they could be large, inefficient bug zappers. Chairman Dennis Mullins called the meeting to order at 8:05 according to the precise battery powered chronometer hanging on the wall. There was no public comment and a slight change to the minutes proceeded approval of that item. The financial report and accounts payable were approved and the folks owed money will get it.
Patty Poire next directed the board to a proposal by Todd Groundwater to develop a water budget with the C2VSim computer model for the Kern Sub Basin. The Kern River GSA is using Todd and it will cost the KGAGSA about $215,000 bucks to get in on the action. The board said OK to that deal. Poire said the Eastside Water Management Area, a non-profit group represented by Jim Beck, has asked to be an associate member of the KGA. Mullins reminded everyone the JPA’s bylaws allow associate non-government members that have no voting power nor can they sit in on closed sessions, nor do they count for a quorum. The board said OK to this as well.
Poire invited Dave Hampton, Assistant GM Cawelo Water District to speak on non-districted “white” areas. He said the Cawelo GSA has been willing to bring in white area, Chevron for one, but also farming landowners. Hampton said CGSA will be attempting to adjust its boundaries – for GSA purposes only. CWD’s boundaries are not changing.
Poire showed the board all of KGA’s GSAs have coordinated on the definitions of undesirable results. This has passed the scrutiny of the State Board and DWR personnel. Larry Rodriquez of GEI Engineering explained further. He said management areas will be used for areas where undesirable results will be most intense. These are extra areas to the GSAs and the boundaries have not be established. He listed subsidence as a major concern. He said in a prolonged drought SGMA allows some flexibility, that’s a drought longer than five years. Some minimum thresholds will be adjusted, some won’t. This is different than an undesirable result sub basin wide. At that point the state gets to take over. Minimum thresholds of water elevation will be set and you just can’t go below this level. There will be multiple monitoring points, say 10 in a management area. If five of these go below the minimum threshold the management area is out of compliance, but not the entire Kern Sub Basin. What percentage of the sub basin does the management area present? That’s the question. What point of management area noncompliance will trigger a sub basin wide undesirable result? He said the San Joaquin Valley floor portion of Kern County has an incredible amount of underground water storage. Water quality will be followed by monitoring wells. For instance; there are areas with arsenic problems. The way the basin’s groundwater is managed has to avoid exacerbating the arsenic problem. The last point he made was identifying the critical infrastructure subject to subsidence damage. These areas will have to be located and monitored. The other undesirable results of sea water intrusion and surface and groundwater interaction are not looking to be much of a problem in this sub basin.
Harry Starkey, GM West Kern WD gave the urban committee report, not much to say. Poire reported the policy committee met with DWR and State Board folks last week and got the thumbs up from both of those agencies for its current plans. She said it was a good conversation. Mullins was there and said there was a lot of time spent explaining the KGA’s GSP by chapter and he thinks this was successful. Mullins said the state folks appeared comfortable with the concept as long as all the points are covered. Poire said after meeting with the KGA the state posse met with the Kern County Farm Bureau where more than 100 people showed up and they said it was the largest group they’ve met with yet. She also said there are still discussions with the sub basins to the north about subsidence. The November meeting will conflict with the Fall ACWA conference and the December meeting falls on the day after Christmas. Mullins said perhaps skipping November would be OK but the December meeting needs to be held for budget reasons. That will be decided next month. Poire added the stakeholders survey prepared by Shelby Barton of Provost & Pritchard was the best the state folks have ever seen. There was nothing else but closed session and the district managers were invited to stay.
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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