The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, January 15, 2019. I believe today is Bill Stretch’s first full board meetings as the new General Manager. Rumor is former GM Gary Serrato is vacationing in Africa of all places. FID Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting to order just a little after 4:00pm. Very much unlike him to start even two minutes late. Not to be a tattle tale (or snitch if you prefer) but Director Christopher Woolf was late and it through off Jacobsen’s rhythm. Woolf didn’t show up until 10-minutes after. Again, not to be a snitch. We all saluted the flag and a very heavy consent calendar was approved. Of all the directors present none had a conflict of interest so the meeting charged ahead like a herd of rogue turtles.

Controller DeAnn Hailey had the board change all the bank and investment account signatures from Serrato to Stretch. There are other rumors FID may be presented an award at next week’s Mid-Pacific Region conclave put on by the US Bureau of Reclamation in Reno; home of the world’s largest bowling alley.

Watermaster Jim Irwin gave his report saying there is a bit more than 19,000 a/f of FID water still in storage behind Pine Flat Dam. The Kings River watershed is receiving a goodly amount of snow and rain from the current storms. It’s raining as I write this and tomorrow’s storm is expected to dump an inch on the Valley floor alone. High winds, thunder and butt load of other weather is a possibility for the next few days. Depending on the pressure ridges and such we could also get some very cold artic air sent this way. Stretch said the government shutdown could impact the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory flights and even delay them. Irwin said staff is making preparation for a large runoff of storm water. Tires and refrigerators have been cleared out of the channels and staff has been scheduled for night work just in case.

Chief Engineer Lawrence Kimura said there are seven developer projects and in the past month more than 30-developer requests were reviewed. FID has four projects of its own going on. Still working on California High Speed Rail and it continues to be a morass of confusion and challenges occasionally bordering on the absurd. Kimura showed photos of work in progress. Canals are being lined and basins dug and shaped. Pipelines are laid or are they lain?* He had a photo of a pipeline with what looked like black plastic trash bags wrapped about the pipe joints and duct tapped. You’ll be glad to know it isn’t trash bags and duct tape but a special, thick-rubbery wrap held in place by rust proof brackets. The theory is to prevent root intrusion and in 20-years we’ll know how well it works.

Operations Manager Adam Claes gave his report and he also showed some pics of pipes and turnouts. He reported there continues to be clean up of homeless campers. The location at McKinley and Millbrook Avenues is a magnet for trash and shopping carts. However, in the far more upscale neighborhood of Clovis to the north the trash is also more upscale. A golf cart was pushed into a canal near Teague and Clovis Avenues. Even further north when the Delta Mendota Canal was de-watered 15-years or so ago they found an airplane they didn’t know was there.

Claes also reported on the North Kings GSA saying getting the right monitoring process in place is one of the challenges being tackled. He said the outreach for the NKGSA held recently was very well attended. The Fresno DWR office representatives said it was one of the largest in the area. I think they had even more than the SGMA Roundtable at Fresno State University – at the time a record setter. Good for them. Claes said the groundwater flow through the Kings Sub Basin flows to the west into Westlands Water District and the McMullin area. The amount hasn’t yet been established. The NKGSA Technical Committee is looking to fill data-gaps with more monitoring wells. How many and where the wells will be located has yet to be established. There are 60,000 acres of white area in the NKGSA and 80,000 parcels. There are a lot of mini-ranchos and no surface flows into the area. DWR says this and the Madera Ranchos are unique in all the state. So far the NKGSA has only had two applications for NKGSA Executive Director. The deadline is January 25th.

Stretch gave his GM report and said there will be a Fish & Game Committee meeting at the Kings River Water Association. Stocking fish is finding a much better purchase now that the drought has backed off and there’s water in the river. It was commented that the enforcement of fishing limits is very lax. The Friant Water Authority won’t meet until after the Mid Pacific Conference and with the Friant Kern Canal subsidence damage coupled with the loss of Prop Three there will be much to discuss. FWA is reaching out to more entities to tell its tale. Stretch said there are a couple of points regarding the FID strategic plan for closed session. The master trails agreement with the City of Fresno for trails along the FID canals is actually getting traction. Stretch also said the retirement luncheon for Serrato was an outstanding success and he said Serrato was thrilled. I’m glad to hear that. One crazed bomber could have wiped out almost the entire institutional knowledge of water in the Valley. FID is also planning a public outreach BBQ where all the department heads and management will address the growers and clients about the situation. I like BBQ. The district is looking for more email addresses and I encourage them to do so. Stretch also said he’ll be working with Jacobsen about streamlining the way board meetings are conducted. Ok. FID has never been bad, but better meetings are always good. He also said Governor Gavin Newsom has also put a guy named Wade Crowfoot, former San Francisco enviro director and NGO champion. He may make us miss John Lard who left with the Brown administration.

HR Director September Singh reported to the board all the hoops the directors have to jump through from sexual harassment avoidance to ethics training required by the legislature in Sacramento. There will be meetings in Bakersfield to help meet these requirements. The better the board does the better the district’s ranking.

There were no directors reports and the meeting went into closed session. Before they kicked up out of the room the board posed with Stretch for a group photo of his first meeting. Good for him.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright

Fresno Irrigation District – The Fresno Irrigation District is located at 2907 So. Maple Avenue, Fresno CA 93725 phone 559/233-7161 and meets at 4:00pm on the third Tuesday of the month at district headquarters. FID is part of the Kings River North GSA

Board

Ryan Jacobsen – President, Jerry Prieto – Vice President, Greg Beberian, Christopher Woolf & George Porter

Staff

Bill Stretch – General Manager
DeAnn Hailey – Controller
Laurence Kimura – Engineer                                                                                                                                                    Jeff Boswell – Attorney