The North Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, October 24, 2018 board meeting at the Riverdale Community Education Center. The Riverdale High Future Farmers of America was selling pumpkins out front and discounting them like crazy. Riverdale isn’t a large town and the foot traffic was at a minimum. So, I purchased a pumpkin and found out the Riverdale FFA has a prize pig at the Fresno County Fair earlier this month. Good for them. Everyone should buy a pumpkin from FFA.
Chairman Mark McKean called the meeting at 5:30pm and I was able to plug next week’s SGMA Survival Strategy Roundtable at Fresno State. That’s Wednesday October 31st 2:00pm-4:00pm at the FSU Center for Irrigation Technology on the southeast corner of Barstow and Chestnut. The minutes were approved.
Under directors reports McKean said he’s received a letter from the South Fork of the Kings GSA and his response was to hang on. The letter asked a lot of questions that will be answered as the GSP is further completed. Charlotte Gallock reported DWR has some grant money for technical support services to install monitoring wells to fill data gaps. The board voted to apply for this money.
Kevin Johansen, Provost & Pritchard gave the board an update on the GSP development. He presented the board with Tasks 8,9 and 10 for about $24,000. The tasks included coordination of support services, agreement assistance and water level criteria. The board approved.
McKean presented a letter and asked for board approval. The letter from NFKGSA was in opposition to Semitropic WSD’s application for Kings River flood flows. This letter will be sent to the State Board. The NFKGSA board approved.
McKean said the goal was to get the GSP finished before January and he said he is very doubtful if any of the seven GSAs in the Kings Sub Basin meet that goal. The completed, sub basin wide GSP is due by January 2020. Johansen showed that the GSP has seven sections; sections 2 and 3.1 have a draft prepared being reviewed. The rest are in progress. I’m guessing section one has been completed but section seven – implementation – hasn’t begun yet. There are 10 tasks under coordination and that is perhaps the biggest part of the job. Part of this is determining how much groundwater is flowing in and out of a GSA into another GSA. Johansen said the estimates may be as much as 20 percent off, plus or minus. He said the lack of data requires estimations to fill in the data gaps. But, all the GSAs acknowledge the need to tinker with the figures as a clearer picture is formed during the course of the SGMA four, five-year periods. A study of Kings River member unit head gate diversions from 1995 through 2017. From that a base period from spring of 1997 through 2012 was chosen as the historical average. This was a change from a pervious base period. The idea was to get a better accuracy of deliveries. This dropped the overdraft from more than 200,000 a/f annual to about 120,000 a/f annual overdraft. That number has to be divided fairly between the GSAs.
Johansen said a well-defined monitoring well network will have to be developed to accurately define the GSA’s progress on reaching its goals. This has many moving parts; of course it does. Johansen stated hydrogeology is not just science but art as well. Monitoring protocols with standards and acceptable collection methods as well as frequency and density must be analyzed. There may be sub-areas and management areas within the GSA that have different standards and minimum thresholds. There are also many aquifers within the GSA, above and below the clay layers for example. Also these different areas may require more wells than others. A monitoring network has already begun. Kings River Conservation District and Fresno County have installed some wells recently and while they haven’t garnered much history yet they will be valuable in the future. But there are still four or five rather large areas without any history, which is to say a data gap. Johansen said getting some grant money from DWR will help get more monitoring wells, many of them nested wells. This and the other data will determine what the minimum threshold and the sustainable goals will be.
Phased mitigation is the term used to describe how sustainable groundwater levels are going to be met. For example; slowing the rate of overdraft over the 20-year period. The good news is 2015 levels won’t be the goal. The GSA gets to set its own levels and take 20-years to achieve them. So, the mitigation needed to achieve the desired levels will be phased in gradually. Nobody has to immediately stop pumping. Johansen was asked when the goals will be defined. The questioner said she saw it as a backward. The lady said defining the undesirable results first and then working towards that. She was particularly worried about the impacts on disadvantaged community domestic water supplies. Johansen said those concerns are taken into account in the GSP. He said under SGMA pumping water isn’t the problem, you can pump, just how much before there is an impact is the question and either approach one takes; the result should be the same.
One of the tasks is determining the water budget. About 22 percent of the lands in the Kings Sub Basin is not in the Kings River service area. To determine a water budget you have summarize all water sources and uses; surface water, rain and snow, groundwater – irrigation, municipal, residential, industrial. You have to determine the hydrological interactions between pumping, percolation, recharge and channel lose. The surface of the land includes atmospheric interactions with precipitation, evaporation and crop and flora evapotranspiration. You use all the 20-something variables to calculate the change in groundwater storage. Then you figure how much water goes into the ground and how much is pumped out. Water quality is another consideration.
It looks like NFKGSA’s annual overdraft is 50,000 a/f. The Kings River floods one out of three years and it floods during irrigation season. You have to bring in 150,000 a/f to make up for the overdraft. The NFKGSA would have to capture 1,500 a/f per day during the flood time and that would require about 3,000 acres if the recharge rate is half an a/f per day. There’s a good chance this won’t be enough to take care of the problem without limiting pumping. That’s the crux.
Next Brian Trevarrow, Kings River Conservation District gave the financial report saying the second quarter billing has been sent out and there are some corrections but minor and being taken care of. He said operations are well within budget. The board approved the report. Rebecca Quist, KRCD gave the stakeholder outreach and communications report. She said the interested party list is growing and the survey to school districts is going out. That was that and the next meeting will be December 5th at the same location.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright
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.
North Fork Kings GSA: Directors, Division 1 Buddy Mendes County of Fresno, Div.2 Frank Zonneveld Laguna ID, Div. 3 Carol Hall Laton Community Services Dist., Div. 4 Mark McKean Crescent Canal Company, Div. 5 Leonard Acquistapace Riverdale Irrigation Company, Div. 6 Stephen Maddox Liberty Mill Race Company & Div. 7 Tony Campos Liberty WD