The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at its headquarters west of Tulare. It was as foggy as I’ve seen it so far this year. But we have sissy fog compared to years’ past. I may be getting old but myself and folks my age remember the fog being generally thicker before the last drought. Also, I remember cotton being taller than I was when a child. I don’t really know if the type of cotton now planted is shorter or I’m just taller. But I know it used to be foggier. Chairman Dave Bixler called the meeting to order at 9:00am.
TID General Manager Aaron Fukuda introduced Jason Phillips, Friant Water Authority CEO spoke to the board about the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and some of the talk surrounding the flying lawsuit circus. The Blueprint is gaining traction in the Governor Gavin Newsom administration. The Newsom is threatening to sue the President Donald Trump Administration. The Trump administration came out with new biological opinions. The state legislature presented Senate Bill 1 tried to shut down the biological opinions and the voluntary agreements. Newsom vetoed SB1. The litigious portion of the enviro community surprised no one and went nuts. As stated above; perhaps to placate the litigious portion the Newsom administration surprised a lot of folks and is threatening to sue. Which brings us back to doe, a deer, a female deer.
The Friant Kern Canal is suffering from a lose of capacity due to subsidence in the area just north of the Tulare/Kern County line. Phillips talked about Part Three of the San Joaquin River Restoration settlement. There was a large chunk of change that could go to recharge projects or perhaps and more likely toward fixing the kink in the canal. In Phillip’s opinion there won’t be federal money from the US Bureau of Reclamation for local groundwater banking. Friant could also get up to $200 million from the WIIN Act to go towards repairs. The Governor’s Water Resiliency Plan could have some FKC repair money despite the competition from others with their hands out. There is talk about a water bond and while we’ve seen how that can and can’t work if there is a bond Phillips said Friant will be looking for a seat at that table to secure funds.
Congressman TJ Cox sponsored a bill for cleaning up drinking water that got support from Congressmen Jim Costa, Jarred Huffman and the arch liberal/enviro from Arizona whose last name starts with G as in green, Raul Grijalva. So that brought together some unexpected support from players who usually oppose ag water. Not of course Cox and Costa. How and who will pay for the repairs is a great question. Fukuda said TID and some of the other districts have an appetite for better capacity but it won’t want as much as the districts downstream of the kink. There is a financial consulting company, PFM that will help with deciphering the bonding, the different sources of funding and such. The ultimate repair will cost $450 million. If they don’t get that much the capacity will have to be reduced.
Marco Crenshaw gave his Water Master report saying there was seven feet of new snow dumped on the SJR watershed over the Thanksgiving holiday time. He said there is talk about talking some water from the Friant system sooner than usual but that has some dependence on how USBR’s Regional Director Michael Jackson’s philosophy shakes out. Crenshaw said TID currently has more than 6,000 a/f in storage. Directors Dave Martin and Michael Thomas got more than an inch in less than a day. There was a huge thunderstorm complete with hail passed through the Valley Sunday.
Superintendent Wayne Fox reported weed control is going well. He’s keeping an eye on erosion of the canal banks. He said the district ran a lot of water last year. When you charge a system rapidly you get erosion. He reported crews have been moving dirt in the new recharge basin without needing a water truck anymore. Dust isn’t really a problem lately. Controller Kathi Artis gave the financial report. There were only a few questions and the board approved paying the bills and such. Good job Kathi.
Jeremy Barroll gave the engineering report. He’s fitting in well with the TID culture. Barroll reviewed the work taking place at the Cordeniz Basin and Serpa Ditch realignment. He said conveniently Cal Trans needs 200,000 yards of dirt for a nearby overpass on Highway 99 at Caldwell Avenue north of Tulare. A contractor has installed a concrete measuring structure and they didn’t get it right. Barroll surveyed the project and now payment is being withheld until corrections are made.
Next Fukuda gave his report saying the Kaweah Sub Basin coordination agreement is coming along well. TID is in the Mid Kaweah GSA. He expects the GSP meeting the January 2020 deadline. He’s also speaking about TID’s unique relationship with two cities in the GSA to the Groundwater Research Association. DWR is bowing up for a huge, monstrous data dump.
Director Rick Borges reported on the recent FWA board retreat saying the title transfer of the FKC is not as popular as expected. There are districts with big heartburn over this. I’m surprised too as we’ve been hearing for some time FWA taking title would open up more funding sources to fix the kink. He said funding for repairs is at least $200 million short to meet the proposed December 2020 deadline.
Next the board considered an assessment adjustment to some property. The owner sold a couple of acres to the City of Tulare and would like it reflected in the district’s bill. TID wasn’t notified of the escrow proceedings before the assessment went out. The board said no brainer and the adjustment will be made.
The meeting took a break before closed session and that was that.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright
6826 Ave 240, Tulare, CA 93274 Office: 559/686-3425
Board: David G. Bixler- President, Richard S. Borges, Jr.-Vice President, Scott Rogers, Dave Martin & Michael Thomas
Staff: Aaron Fukuda-General Manager, Jeremy Barroll-Engineer, Kathi Artis–District Controller, Wayne Fox–Superintendent, Marco Crenshaw–District Watermaster & Alex Peltzer-Attorney.
About: The Tulare Irrigation District was organized September 21, 1889. The original proposal for the formation of an irrigation district covering 219,000 acres, extending from the Sierra Nevada foothills to Tulare Lake, was eventually reduced to 32,500 acres. The District continued in this status until January of 1948 when the so-called Kaweah Lands” (approximately 11,000 acres) were annexed. In October of 1948, approximately 31,000 acres, compromising the area served by the Packwood Canal Company were annexed to the District. A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contract was signed in 1950 providing an annual supply of 30,000 acre-feet of Class 1 water, and up to 141,000 acre-feet of
Class 2 water from the Friant-Kern Canal. The District and the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District have coordinated efforts to enhance the recharge of groundwater within the Kaweah Basin. During high flow times KDWCD may use the recharge basins with the District for recharge purposes. Further, KDWCD has historically provided for a financial incentive program through which the District sustains the level of groundwater recharge from supply sources into the District. This historical program was recently reinstated by both districts in lieu of the District’s plans to concrete-line this canal to conserve the surface water. TID is a member of the Mid Kaweah GSA.