The Kern Water Bank Authority held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at its Bakersfield headquarters. This can often be an enjoyable meeting due in large part to the efficiency of the proceedings. I know a little about water, but I also know a little about chile verde; however I’ve got a lot of experience in going to meetings. It’s endlessly interesting the interplay between staff, management and boards. But that’s another story for another report.

Chairman Bill Phillimore called the meeting to order at exactly 3:00pm, as is his want. There was a quorum and the minutes were approved without much fuss. KWB Controller Danelle Lopez gave the financial reports, the expenses and the proposed 2020 general-administrative budget for $2.79 million. There are the usual increases and decreases in the budget so that will be finalized next month. Everything was approved. Good for her. I know that’s not a lot of info on the money moving around but what’s to report if everything balances in a righteous manner? If you need more info these are public documents.

There are two traffic circles being installed on the Taft Highway out by the water bank. it has been a long running joke as to how long it will take to finish construction. I haven’t been there but I understand they are rather modest traffic circles and the project is being mismanaged.

The next item was the pump station and the Strand pump station. The first station needs to expand and the Strand station needs improvements. Bids have been solicited and accepted. With much less pomp and ceremony than say, the Academy Awards, the board announced the winners. Lyles Construction won both bids after due diligence. Phillimore asked General Manager Jon Parker how much loss there is in the canals and that is about 12 cfs per day for the entire bank. It’s not really loss as it is being recharged but when they’re recovering the water it does come into play. Attorney Steve Torigiani advised the two bids be approved separately and the board did so.

Parker gave the operations report saying Buena Vista WSD would like to recharge 5,000 a/f on the bank and Torigiani has already given it the smell test, so that will happen with the board’s tacit blessing. There is no recovery taking place currently and Parker showed hydrographs with dramatic increases in groundwater levels. He said there was an artesian well in 2005 that shot a plume 10 feet or more high. Parker said it saved on PG&E pumping costs.

The KWB purchased as $131,000 water truck; not necessarily with the artesian well pump savings. A few years ago the bank went on a sprucing things up kick and spent more than one million dollars on needed upgrades. Much of this coming to conclusion. In the meantime the bank spent millions more on well replacement and rehab. There is one well with the casing caving in so bad it has to be abandoned. They’ll uncover the casing several feet below grade, place a concrete plug in the hole and pour more concrete over that, then cover the ground back. There are some problems at the Pioneer Project with sand and silt from the Kern River causing culverts to be constricted and the course of the Kern River has been slightly altered. Parker is discussing matter with Kern Delta WD’s GM Mark Mulkay and Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD’s Assistant GM Dan Bartell. There’s a good deal on sand for sale involved somehow in this matter. Caltrans was willing to pay well over a million dollars for some conservation credits for kangaroo rats but there aren’t any rats on the bank. Board leadership directed staff to procure a breeding pair for future income opportunities. Not really.

Nothing new to report on the bike trail this month. There are talking about avoiding barbed wire next to the path so the idea of a split rail fence. Choose your poison. In an unrelated discussion Phillimore said they don’t do water banking in Australia because anything underground becomes a mineral right of the crown. Parker said he’s been to a symposium in Australia and was surprised how top heavy the regulations are there. The federal government really runs things. Parker also reported the recent Kern Groundwater Authority’s open house had maybe 12 to 15 non-water folks show up.

The meeting then adjourned into closes session.       

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright

KERN WATER BANK AUTHORITY

1620 Mill Rock Way, Bakersfield, CA 93311 Office: 661/398-4900 www.kwb.org

Staff: Jon Parker-General Manager, Danelle Lopez-Accountant, Steve Torigiani-Attorney, Nick Torres-Superintendent

Board: William Phillimore-Chair Westside Mutual Water Company, William Taube-Vice Chair Wheeler Ridge Maricopa Water Storage District, Steve Jackson-Treasurer Dudley Ridge Water District, Dennis Atkinson Tejon Castac Water District, David Beard KCWA Improvement District 4, Wilmar Boschman Semitropic Water Storage District & Kim Brown Westside Mutual Water Company

Located on a large, undeveloped section of the Kern River’s sandy alluvial fan, the Kern Water Bank covers nearly 30 square miles over California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. Ideally situated, both for its unique geology and its proximity to water supply and delivery systems, the Kern Water Bank plays a dual role in California’s economically vital agricultural heartland.