The Westlands Water District held its February 19, 2019 fandango or hoe down or whatever you’d like to call a series of committee meetings culminating with the board meeting in the afternoon. This report begins with the Water Policy Committee which met at WWD’s Fresno headquarters at 11:00am. WWD President and Chairman Don Peracchi opened the meeting and there were no changes to the agenda and the minutes were approved. Westlands’ SGMA expert Kitti Campbell reported the US Bureau of Reclamation has reviewed and approved Westland’s five-year water plan and the committee approved Resolution 102-19. Next Russ Freeman reported to the board the City of Huron wants to sign a water transfer for – I believe – 100 a/f. This isn’t a routine request and Director Dan Errotabere was concerned this might become an annual matter. Fineman said during the drought Huron bought water at the supplemental rate. General Manager Tom Birmingham recommended the rate charged be the CVP rate to avoid criticism. Westlands has the water, Huron is a neighbor and it’s good to be good to neighbors, and this is a unique situation.
The next item was about the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority budget. WWD is a member of SLDMWA. Westlands and Broadview WD will be assessed about $1 million under the activity budget. Controller Bobbie Ormonde said it’s about half of last year’s assessment. Birmingham said he wants folks to know the SLDMWA staff is diligent in keeping costs low.
Campbell reported there is an annual $1 million opportunity cost. This $1 million is under the groundwater management program and the money is used to reduce the O&M rate. It sounds simple on the surface but there are always questions. The bookkeeping in this matter is extensive and complicated from what I can gather. Even the committee members wanted a sheet tracking this matter. Staff will work this up and return with it to the next meeting.
Fineman next reported on water use saying in January just under 25,000 a/f was used including some groundwater. A little less is expected this month. He predicts more than 600,000 a/f will have been used in this water year. WWD is posed to lose 17,000 a/f of carryover if conditions at San Luis Reservoir continue. He expects 215 Water to be declared any day now. There’s more water coming. Eric Johnson of the Water Agency asked if 215 is subject to acreage limitations; and it isn’t. This 215 Water has to be used in the district. No transfers and I believe this is the same on the east side Friant Division. Each Central Valley Project contractor must have a 215 contract with the USBR.
Tom Boardman spoke and said there has been more than 300,000 a/f of Delta outflow yesterday if I understood him. The pumping plants are going full bore. Delta water comes down the Delta Mendota Canal into the O’Neils Forebay. It’s pumped up hill into the San Luis Reservoir and there isn’t enough pumping capacity at San Luis to keep up with the supplies coming from the Delta. That is way there will be 215 Water on the west side. The state is having a similar deal and may get its equivalent Article 21 Water this year. Boardman said turbidity is a concern as in some conditions if enough turbidity is observed there is a hardwired to cut back pumping. Likewise water quality at Port Chicago on the Carquinez Straight is monitored and there is another hardwired pump shut down if the salinity gets too high. Port Chicago is the western most monitoring station. Birmingham said he’s heard the April 1st average has been exceeded. He hopes to hear better news from the Bureau about allocations. California lawmakers from both the Senate and House have sent letters to the Bureau reminding them of the WIIN Act. At issue is the cold water pool in storage. The National Marine Fishery Service can stick its nose and nuts into the middle of things – and it has. There is new data showing too much cold water at the wrong time of year is actually harmful to fish.
Growers are faced with an annual dilemma this time of year. What happens to the carryover of water from last year if the reservoirs fill? Fineman suggested growers use as much water as it can between now and April. They paid for water and if it is emptied from the reservoir it’s gone with the money paid for it. Rescheduling has a fee attached and one grower was concerned they might pay a fee and still have the water lost.
The meeting then went into closed session.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright
Westlands Water District
3130 N. Fresno Street, Fresno CA 93703 Phone:559/224-1523
Board: Don Peracchi-President, Dan Errotabere – Vice President, Jim Anderson, William Bourdeau, Frank Coelho Jr., Larry Enos, Ryan Ferguson & Todd Neves.
Staff: Tom Birmingham-General Manager, Jon Rubin-Attorney, Dan Pope-COO
About: Without irrigation, farming in the Westlands area of California would be limited and ineffectual. The history of Westlands is one of continual adaptation, careful water stewardship and advanced technology. By maintaining a fierce commitment to sustainability, the Westlands’ comprehensive water supply system continues to adapt, educate, and surpass conservation goals. Throughout its history, Westlands Water District has demonstrated a lasting dedication to water conservation and recognized that the long-term survival of its farms depends on the effective management of California’s precious water resources. From www.wwd.ca.gov