The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. But before we go into that I want to tell you about something rarer than a pearl in an oyster. Good service. On the way back from Bakersfield this morning (where I met people so important if I mentioned them you’d say I was a social climbing name dropper) my Antilock Brake System light went on. My engine light stays on all the time and there’s another light above it that looks like a sedan with a giant wrench in it and since I drive and crossover SUV and the light depicts a sedan anyway I don’t worry about. Besides it goes on and off. No, this brake light could be serious. So I pull into Les Schwab Tires. An employee runs out to greet me like he’s actually happy to see me. The light turns out to be a worn part that’s on order and they move my pretty good rear tires up to the front and put two new tires on the back. I take off and before I can get out of the parking lot my brakes are all squishy and vibrating. An employee runs out to see me like he’s actually happy to see me again. Turns out my Saturn is all wheel drive and you’re supposed to change them all at once. They didn’t have any more tires to match the ones they put on the back so they sold me four brand new tires for the price of the two I’d already bought. I will be going back to Les Schwab and I suggest you do too. They also do fleet sales and tractor tires. The manager told me if it’s round and rubbery they can make it work.
The FID meeting was called to order by Chairman Ryan Jacobsen at 4:00pm. We all saluted the flag, there were no changes to the agenda, potential conflicts and both the consent calendar and controller’s report were approved. Water Master Jim Irwin gave his report saying as of yesterday there is was 629,779 a/f of storage at Pine Flat and FID has right to 88,534 a/f. The federal Central Valley Project’s Class I supplies total 60,000 a/f. The estimated snow pack for the Kings River is 163.6 percent of average for this time. We’ve got a thunderstorm predicted for tomorrow and a couple of other storms after that. Irwin said it is a colder storm so that will help with snow pack. He expects FID to be able to provide deliveries through this coming October. General Manager Bill Stretch said FID is diverting water for Tranquillity ID even though these are flood releases from Pine Flat. TID didn’t want to deal with channel loss and there is a way to convey the water through FID. As FID’s demand increases the conveyance capacity for TID will decrease. Former GM Gary Serrato addressed the board about the somewhat confusing Kings River agreements under the Kings River Water Association. Members are limited to a portion of their storage to make way flood releases. Flood releases began the 7th of this month. So far under the agreement FID hasn’t had its storage impacted for the same reason Consolidated ID in Selma wasn’t impacted in last week’s report. The combined mysteries of KRWA agreements works in FID’s favor when there is a slow melt. Serrato said SGMA diversions are on everyone’s mind and are high.
Stretch said there was a landowner at last month’s meeting who said there was a joint landowner/FID project. Stretch said that was true but the project has changed and it was communicated to the landowner strongly his responsibility to notify FID when he’ll be turning water off. Overall the meeting was very positive and things were humming along smoothly.
FID Engineer Laurence Kimura reported High Speed Rail between Merced and Bakersfield is still on and impacts more than 20 FID facilities. Kimura listed a butt load of projects on his power point presentation. FID Vice Engineer Adam Claes also show photos of weedy, trashy canals and how FID crews are dealing with it. Jacobsen said he’s very impressed in how quickly and relatively thoroughly the crap has been cleaned out of the canals. In SGMA news Claes said the ag portion of FID has a surplus groundwater level. There is still a lot of work to be done to wrap out the Groundwater Sustainability Plan. One of the undesirable results is rivers hydrologically connected to groundwater not be impacted by too much pumping. Self Help Enterprises is set to help inform the disadvantaged communities* of what’s happening in SGMA and the GSP. Director Jerry Prieto asked if SGMA holds the GSAs responsible for water quality and Claes said it won’t be responsible for clean up but it had to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse from pumping groundwater. FID has very little Corcoran clays but groundwater is thought to be flowing from the North Kings GSA into the neighboring GSAs to the west. Serrato said the accuracy of measuring underground flows is anywhere from 20 to 50 percent. Stretch said the candidates for NKGSA Executive Director has been narrowed down to four candidates. That is one of the positions being advertised on WaterWrights.net’s Want Ads.
Stretch gave his report and said the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory ran into a few snags but a flight with data gathered was successful. That data is being evaluated. There is a workshop this Thursday to look at how to repair the Friant Kern Canal and what it will cost. FID’s position is it didn’t cause the problem and it won’t be paying for it. The Friant Water Authority has come up with the Valley Blue Print on how to approach the impacts from SGMA and lack of surface water supplies. Friant also hired Johnny Amaral from Westlands Water District. Amaral used to be Chief of Staff to Congressman Devin Nunes. Amaral and Austin Ewell, formally Assistant Secretary of Interior will be working together. Director George Porter said he was against the hiring of Amaral but he understands Amaral has good relations with the South Valley Water Association and could help to bring about a healing in the Friant Contractor family. Director Chris Woolf said Ewell spoke with local radio host Ray Appleton yesterday and did a great job of explaining the situation. Jacobsen if the new biological opinions don’t yield good results the Blue Print isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. He said there is some legislation brewing in Sacramento that would task the state to roll back any progress made on the bio ops. Boogers, that’s what happens when you import your government from North Korea.
Stretch said the recent grower meetings were well received if not well attended. There were meetings with BBQ in Kerman, Eastin and Clovis. Porter shared he thought the turnout was down because the deliveries had already begun. Most folks were after SGMA information. Director Greg Beberian said he thought the presentations were good. Stretch said the FID updated website rolled out on February 15th. He and Jacobsen both fielded two different media requests and Claes spoke to a Cal Poly irrigation class tour, something Stretch used to do. He and Claes are both Aggies. State Senator Anna Caballero asked for a support letter for SB 487 which will bring in $150 million over 15-years. Stretch also attended a meeting in Sacramento where Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula pushed for recharge as a beneficial use and it was made clear Governor Gavin Newsom is big on drinking water. Stretch had a recent discussion with the City of Clovis about trials along FID canals. He said Clovis has been waiting patiently for FID to wrap up its negotiation for similar trial with the City of Fresno. Apples and oranges.
The next item was FID passing a resolution to accept 215 Water and it passed. Directors reports were next and Prieto said he wife just texted him a photo of their latest calf that was just born. The open portion of the meeting closed and the dinner was Mediterranean.
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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
Ryan Jacobsen – President, Jerry Prieto – Vice President, Greg Beberian, Christopher Woolf & George Porter
Bill Stretch – General Manager
DeAnn Hailey – Controller
Laurence Kimura – Engineer
Jeff Boswell – Attorney