The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting to order at 4:00pm and they all saluted the flag. I was a bit late and when I arrived Controller DeAnn Hailey was giving a longer than usual report. I missed the review of the agenda, the review of future meetings, public presentations, potential conflicts of interest and the consent calendar. Based on my years of meeting attendance I’ll wager the tasks, language and Robertsonian mechanics of parliamentary procedure were sufficient to get the district to the point in the meeting Hailey could get the board up to speed on all things financial. The board approved her report including paying for Hailey and another employee to attend a conference in Lakewood. Someone asked where Lakewood is and it turns out Lakewood is about halfway between Long Beach and Compton.
FID Water Master Jim Irwin gave his report saying Pine Flat Reservoir has 592,923 a/f in storage and FID has 123,606 a/f still in storage if I understood correctly. FID is going to continue distribution until October and maybe into November. There are six Kings River contractors still delivering water. It was raining in Oakhurst yesterday and there is a low pressure system moving in that will keep temperatures lower than normal and cold bring snow in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada as far south as Yosemite. There is not a long-term forecast from the US Weather Service and one is concerned about possible cubical dysfunction at some government center somewhere. FID General Manager Bill Stretch reported not much happened at the Kings River Water Association meeting but a lot can change between now and the next meeting. FID I still banking but has cut back some of its recharge due to problems with seepage on an embankment of one cell. So far FID has banked more than 189,000 a/f in its facilities. Stretch said there have been some districts approaching FID about trades and exchanges and such but nothing nailed down at the moment.
My main man Chief Engineer Lawrence Kimura gave his report saying the district is working on some engineering of local projects both landowner and inhouse. He said attorney Jeff Boswell has been working with High Speed Rail on right of way issues. The district hired a new GIS person a week ago.
My other main man Assistant GM Adam Claes gave his report saying crews have been cleaning out canals and surveying property lines. Weed control is an ongoing task and staff zaps an average of 350 miles of canal banks monthly. He said in the far northwest portion of FID an old pipeline has been leaking. Upon investigation a failing pipeline of more than 80 years was exposed. Director Greg Beberian said it could become part of the district’s recharge system. Stretch said he’s seen some old pipe in his day but nothing as bad as this. Claes said the landowners impacted have been very good to work with in this case. FID is only 99-years old so this pipe is one of the first. Boswell said when he was in Eastern Europe he saw pipes from the 12th century which were hollowed out logs joined by lead connectors. So it could be worse.
Claes next spoke about buying staff new rides; five ½ ton trucks and one crew cab pickup for the new North Kings GSA Executive Director and FID employee with both the district and the GSA paying half each. The money is coming out of the power revenue fund.
Claes is also up to his nose in SGMA matters with the NKGSA. The GSP has been released for a public draft review and comments will be due by October 18th. He said the Fresno State University is looking to include new projects from its farm and this is exciting to see. There is a WET Center at Fresno State; a Water Energy and Technology center on campus that helps with new opportunities to get the best new technology out there. There will be a public comment at an upcoming meeting. Claes said most of the comments received so far have been less than helpful and most folks wait until the last moment to comment so watch out. He and former FID GM Gary Serrato have been engaging in many outreach activities. There is a large swath of nondistricted land northwest of FID, about 50,000 acres of white area. There was a big direct mail push to get the folks who live there to the Clovis Veterans Memorial on September 12th for a meeting. Much of the folks who live there are de-minimus pumpers pulling up less than an aggregate two acre feet per year. There was some confusion at that meeting by a landowner who thought he received a letter from the state instructing him to install a meter on his well. No one has heard of that happening. Director Jerry Prieto is on the GSA board as well and spoke with the gentleman. The County of Fresno said it will be developing land use for the area. I grew up in the area and there was a good deal of range land and most of the zoning was A-20. I rode my horse to school. You go out there now and it’s a mess of two and half acre ranchettes. It could be the County of Fresno may get serious about land use planning. It’s a tough deal. Property rights are important. Someone owns some property and wants to benefit from subdividing, providing some new housing and he should be able to dwell in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But developing where there isn’t enough water would be like trying to develop ocean front property in Nevada.
The next portion of the discussion was the Kings Basin Coordination efforts. Provost & Pritchard has been providing the data management system. Of the seven GSAs only Kings River East and Central Kings have yet to announce a proposed adoption date. The first GSA in the basin to release the public draft was the McMullin Area GSA and it is the GSA with the greatest challenge. There’s very limited opportunities to surface flows there. The MAGSA Executive Director Matt Hurley was in attendance. I don’t know how the topic changed but someone said the trash in the canals is better since Claes became Assistant GM. Irwin explained as the delivery flows drop trash under the culverts will soon appear.
Stretch gave his GM report saying the hatchery where the Kings River got its fish for stocking has been changed to the San Joaquin River hatchery and that was the big news from the KRWA. He said the NASA ASO flights need additional funding and there is hope for the state to step in. Each flight costs from $150,000 to $200,000 and while it’s a game changer it’s expensive.
The water management since the ASO has been very much improved. There is some money to fix the snow pillows but it’s not the same. He said SB559 has been turned into a two-year bill and there is no funding for repairing the Friant Kern Canal from the state. Can Sacramento find new ways to screw the Valley? Director George Porter said Friant Water Association is still working towards taking title of the FKC. FID isn’t convinced this is the best course. Porter said it doesn’t look good to take title to something broken. Beberian opined FWA may want to borrow against the canal. Stretch said there wasn’t much to talk about concerning the FID Water Resource Strategic Plan or the facilities assessment report. He expects much more next month. The excellent Randy McFarland is working on the FID centennial coming in 2020.
Under administrative matters there is a JPIA Leadership Training session management would like to send Summer Singh to soon. The board said OK. The California Special District Association is having a conference in Monterey in November and the board is sending Lynn Rowe, the glue who holds it together.
Attorney Boswell was asked to come up with a formal procedure for the district buying and selling property. He said the district had a form of it but it dealt more with selling than purchasing. There will now be a generic form for staff to follow, a template to help keep the needed changes in the light and prevents redundancy. Beberian praised the staff for the work put into it. It’s a step in the right direction of keeping transparent things transparent.
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
Bill Stretch – General Manager
DeAnn Hailey – Controller
Laurence Kimura – Chief Engineer
Jeff Boswell – General Counsel
Summer Singh – Asst. GM Administration
Adam Claes – Asst. GM Operations
Jim Irwin – Water Master
Hugo Egle – Operations Manager
Mike Prestridge – Superintend Construction & Maintenance