The North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency met on Thursday, July 25, 2019 at the Fresno Irrigation District headquarters. Chairman Jerry Prieto called the meeting at 6:00pm and we saluted the flag of the United States using the phrase Under God freely and proudly. The agenda was reviewed, there was no public presentations or conflicts of interest. Prieto asked where the City of Kerman representative was as they’ve missed two meetings. He instructed NKGSA Executive Director Gary Serrato to be sure if the representative can’t attend an alternate will be able to do so.

The first item was appointing new officers for this fiscal year. Prieto was nominated to again serve as chairman and Brian Pacheco will again serve as vice chair and the minutes were approved.

FID engineer Adam Claes gave an update on the Kings Sub Basin coordination. The firm of Provost & Pritchard is working with the seven GSAs in the sub basin to coordinate all the GSPs into one overarching plan for the Kings. Serrato said there will be a coordination meeting tomorrow. Claes said he has a draft of the almost 800 page NKGSA GSP. The public draft will soon be released for comment; as will the other GSPs not yet released.

There is a very long list of contributors who worked on the GSP for the past two years. Last month was the first time the technical committee was able to read it from page one to the end. August 16th is the stated release date for the 90-day public comment. The NKGSA board will meet August 15th to give its blessing. There will be a public hearing on November 21st to adopt the plan.

Ron Samuelian, Provost & Pritchard spoke next saying it is his duty to take the board through the 800 page plan this evening and justified this by saying the book is always better than the movie. The GSP has seven chapters plus an executive summary. The layout is to list the regulation in SGMA and the GSA’s response. There are well over 200 sections to be addressed. The executive summary is an overview of each section. Sections include the plan area and members. The third section is the Basin Setting is a hydrogeologist’s dream and a very big portion of the plan. It contains the water budget. Samuelian said of the 30 factors used only eight are measurable; the rest are estimates. What do you think of that? Climate change is one of these intangibles. Each member of the GSA had to give forecasts 20-years out of what may happen; i.e. changes in cropping patterns in an irrigation district. Prieto pointed out Sacramento needs to understand recharge must be beneficial usage of water.

Samuelian combined his description of chapters four and five dealing with management criteria and monitoring. The GSAs set the sustainability goal. He showed a slide of a map with about 35 wells chosen as monitoring sites. There are other wells but this group will be used to define the measurable objectives and the minimum threshold. The ramp down is 10, 20, 30 and 40 percent mitigation schedule with each increase lasting five-years until 100 percent is achieved by 2040. Samuelian said all the GSAs in the Kings recognize water levels will decline between now and 2040 and that level will be lower than now, but not low enough to slam into the undesirable results. Wells will go dry but that isn’t necessarily an undesirable result until the water levels are stabilized. Water quality will also take a role in the GSP. MCL – Maximum Contaminate Levels are already set by other programs and the rising and lowering of groundwater isn’t always a negative impact or a beneficial one. It’s case by case. Samuelian said subsidence isn’t really a concern in the NKGSA because the soils aren’t conducive to it. But it will be monitored. The interconnection of surface and groundwater will also be watched but again there isn’t much evidence this will be a big problem.

The Kings Sub Basin is overdrafted by 122,000 a/f. NKGSA is estimated to have a 20,800 a/f surplus. The McMullin Area GSA is 90,000 a/f in deficit. Each GSA and each member of a GSA in the Kings Sub Basin have opted to fix their own problems and not trust someone else to do it for them. Samuelian said a groundwater impact methodology is being developed, is almost developed, but not yet ready. He said with the appropriate projects and cooperation the Kings Sub Basin should be sustainable. This isn’t true in all areas of the Valley.

The last chapter covers implementation. NKGSA approved costs last month but the individual member will pay their own expenses. Implementation of the various projects will be monitored. As an example Samuelian said a member agency with an overdraft of 1,000 a/f will have to show it’s reduced pumping 100 a/f by 2025. He said while it is a big accomplishment to write a plan, it hasn’t solved anything.

Deann Healy gave the financial report and said nothing exciting has happened yet since July is the first month of the fiscal year. The previous year’s audit will be finished by next month’s meeting. The board approved the reports.

The executive officer search will be in closed session. Directors report yielded no yakking and the meeting went into closed session. By the way the audience and board applauded at the end of Samuelian’s presentation. That’s a rare occurrence for an engineer’s report but he did a very good job.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2019 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.

MEMBERS: Bakman Water Company, Cities of Kerman, Fresno and Clovis, Fresno County, Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District, Garfield Water District and Fresno ID