The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. The before meeting spirits were good and it wasn’t raining. District boards are like ducks, they love it when it’s raining (provided it’s not during harvest.) Today’s mood was good. Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting to order at precisely 4:00pm as is his habit. We saluted the flag and it was reported Director Greg Beberian was out of the country.
The consent calendar was long and passed without comment. FID General Manager Bill Stretch introduced Scott Redelfs, Public Utility Director for the City of Clovis and Paul Armendariz also with the City of Clovis as Assistant PUD Director to speak about a conveyance agreement between the City and FID. Former FID GM Gary Serrato set up the situation to the board. Serrato said in 1972 the first agreement was reached. Since 2017 a new agreement was started. Clovis has a 27,500 a/f allocation in an average water year from the Kings River. This is 6.12 percent of FID’s 400,000 a/f plus. The new agreement which the city passed at the previous night’s Council Meeting included 5,000 a/f of carryover and a firm supply of up to 7,000 a/f per year for 25 years and then in perpetuity will cost $5,000 per a/f for a total of $35 million over 25-years. The City pays this to FID just to be clear. Staff recommended entering into this agreement. Redelfs spoke to the board before they voted. He said the agreements set the stage for a good partnership and he looks forward to negotiating with Serrato in 2045. The board passed the agreement. Good for them.
Controller DeAnn Hailey gave her financial report saying FID has been keeping it between the lines when it comes to the budget. She gave credit to the good, wet year we just experienced. The board accepted the report and voted to send Hailey to Anaheim for four days in September to attend the California Special District Association.
Next Water Master Jim Irwin gave his report saying there is a lot of snow still in the high country for this time of year. He said there’s 152,000 a/f of Kings River and 57,000 a/f of Friant water with some Unreleased Restoration Flows in the mix. FID is still getting 1,060 cfs from the Kings River if I understood correctly. Irwin showed the board the chart prepared to show comparisons of various water years. He went through some complicated equation to arrive at future estimates of water supply. Bless me I tried but didn’t comprehend it. The water year 2018-19 will easily be within the top 20 wettest years on record. Thunderstorms in August can produce another 10,000-15,000 a/f in a year like this. Peak storage at Pine Flat was 956,000 a/f last week. FID should still have 35,000 a/f at Pine Flat in November.
Assistant Manager Adam Claes told the board about the district’s efforts to get more grant money for recharge basins for FID. For the first time the Office for Emergency Services are being hit up for federal money. District Engineer Lawrence Kimura wasn’t present for some reason. Claes said there was some progress in getting reimbursed from High Speed Rail. There is a Cal Poly SLO intern helping to update the district’s GIS. There is more to the HSR in closed session. Stretch commented they are getting good work from the intern, who’s from Riverdale. Jacobsen and Serrato said those Cal Poly guys are good if you give them plenty of direction. They figured this guy was exceptional due to his Riverdale upbringing. On to Claes O&M report Director Chris Woolf asked what schedule is to remove trash from the canals. FID has had a great deal of impact from homeless folks camping out on their canal banks. The answer is almost always the trash is removed at least once a month if not more.
Next Claes reported the North Kings GSA will be releasing the public draft of the GSP on August 16th for public comment. Director George Porter asked if another GSA in the sub basin lags behind will that drag the rest of the GSAs down with them. Serrato explained there is a coordination agreement that includes all seven GSAs but there are still some humps needing to be addressed. He said he believes FID will have a safe yield of about two a/f per acre while other GSAs will be much less. Claes reported the 2019-2020 budget has been approved and the cost share for administration needs. There is another outreach to white areas east of FID planned as well as an outreach to small, private well owners within FID. Provost & Pritchard wrote five of the seven GSPs and coordinating all seven. Stretch said both FID and the North Kings GSA will be commenting on other GSPs within the sub basin. The North Kings draft GSP is more than 700 pages. You stack all the GSPs within the Kings Sub Basin on top of each other and you could go to the moon and back twice if the moon was two feet from earth.
Stretch gave his report saying the Friant Water Authority has been working on repairing the subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal. The costs could be more than $375 million and there is some unrest within FID about how to allocate those costs. It could cost FID $35,000 annually for three decades if I understood correctly. FWA is doing outreach to the South Valley Water Association and some of them are starting to attend. The San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint has finally come up with a brochure with high level content said Stretch. There’s not a lot more to say about Friant – not much forward movement on title transfer of the Friant Kern Canal. Porter is the FID representative as a director on the FWA board. He said he’s not sure if it’s a good idea to buy a broken canal.
FID has been working with private consultants New Currents. Stretch said now that the Clovis conveyance agreement is finished the consultants will be preparing some reports for the board. FID has a new website and it’s good. The lady who did this for the district will be moving on and FID is looking for some new public relations help. On a side note local television news recently aired a story about the homeless on FID canals and the danger they pose. Claes said the Fresno City Council members offices often call the district to report encampments. I read in Brown & Caldwell a bill was passed to make it a crime to camp out on a levee and a raised canal bank is a levee. I think the penalty is death by drowning.
Serrato spoke about meeting with Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula to talk about a bill straitening the recharge mess Sacramento has created. Southern California doesn’t want to allow recharge because it would rather have the water shipped south. Others have weighed in making it so GSAs can pull permits to recharge but GSAs don’t have water rights and districts shouldn’t have to pull a permit and pay the extra costs to do something they’ve already been doing. Director Jerry Prieto, former Fresno County Ag Commissioner, commented on some of the glyphosate hysteria taking place. It would be very difficult on ag, let alone all the cities and others that have plants. He’d like to explore getting someone to represent FID on legislation. FWA and the Kings River Conservation District represents much of FID’s concerns but not specifically FID. Porter said FID has no budget to pursue lobbying. But everyone knows the importance of the harmful unintended consequences of poorly written law.
Next Claes presented the board a sample letter the district needs to send to the US Bureau of Reclamation along with a $15,000 check and resolution no. 2019-15. FID is transferring water to Table Mountain Rancheria. The district will be reimbursed later and the resolution was passed.
Stretch next told the board the last time ACWA held a fall conference in San Diego like it will be doing in December – the participating board and staff flew there and saved two days travel time. The board approved doing so again. The board also approved sending two staff members to Monterey for the November for the CALPELRA whatever that is event. Human Resource Director Summer Sinhg told the board CALPERs open enrollment. The meeting then went into closed session.
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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