The Semitropic Water Storage District board of directors held its meeting on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at its Wasco headquarters. One of the best parts of this job is the people I meet and get to know. It was a pleasure today to see Will Boschman today. He’s the former General Manager before Jason Gianquinto took charge. I was also very hungry and the barbeque chicken and beef for lunch hit the spot. It’s been cold and that reminded me of summer a year ago, I know but stay with me. I had traded in my old Saturn Vue for a less old Saturn Vue. Same vehicle, just a different year. I had to get rid of the old one because the air conditioner was out. I had the less old car for about a week when I drove down to Wasco and my heart just sank. It was more than 100 degrees and my new less old car just wouldn’t cool off no matter how hard I cranked the a/c. I didn’t realize my upgrade included heated seats and now I know what that button is for. So, leaving home this morning in the Valley fog it was very nice to have that heated seat. Last time I looked at my rearview mirror/compass/thermometer it was 44 degrees and when it’s wet and misty it gets cold here.

It’s been a while since I attended a Semitropic meeting. Dan Waterhouse is the new President and Chairman of the Board. He called the meeting to order and we saluted the flag like free Americans using the phrase “Under God” and everything. There were self-introductions and the agenda was approved, the minutes were approved and the treasurer’s report, financial report and payment of the bills were approved.

Action Items

The action items were first and grouped together on the agenda. Isela Medina, staff engineer led the board through some task orders. There were change orders from GEI Engineering Consultants, groundwater modeling updates, Poso Creek Integrated Regional Water Management Plan activities, a consultant agreement with Land IQ for remote sensing*, an agreement with MKN for help dealing with High Speed Rail conflicts, a $4,000 a month Washington DC lobbyist Joe Rosso renewal, a revised Kern County Water Agency fee schedule for transfers and exchanges and continuing an emergency declaration for repairs at designated pumping plants. Gianquinto explained all the different considerations and all of the action items were approved.

The Semitropic GSA update was next and Gianquinto said the 2019 evapotranspiration study is almost ready. The Kern Groundwater Authority approved the coordination agreement and Gianquinto expects the other GSAs are on its way to signing but for Buena Vista WSD GSA. Waterhouse said he’s hopeful BV will come along soon. BV’s position is Semitropic’s GSP isn’t stringent enough to prevent trouble from overdraft as they are contiguous neighbors. All the other GSAs are siding with Semitropic. Gianquinto said draft landowner water budgets are still being written up and should be ready for review next month. This is a big job. Each parcel gets its own treatment. The next step is to submit the GSP and prepare for the first SGMA report in April. No relaxing for the wicked. GEI’s Larry Rodriquez said his firm is getting ready for a document dump on the Department of Water Resources.

Consultant Reports

Consultant reports were next and the W.M. Lyles construction representative said there will be some pumping plant modifications as there is a dialog between the solar and PG&E. PG&E has to approve the plan.

Rodriguez said the drought management plan is being updated. He said GEI provided some help with the EIR for the Tulare Lake Project. GEI’s SGMA plan for Semitropic is ready for submittal.

Boschman gave a groundwater storage services report. He said the relationship between Semitropic and W.M. Lyles is unique. They’ve been providing construction services to the district since 1973 and has done 75 percent of the work hired out. Boschman said Lyles has done exceptional work. Aqua Via has been doing good work but Aqua Planet has been bitten by the holiday bug and someone there named Michael Young’s uncle died and maybe things will pick up soon. Boschman said he attended the State Water Contractors annual meeting and mentioned a bunch of names I didn’t know. He heard an update on the Oroville Dam recovery process that included FEMA and a $1.1 billion costs. Carry over in the San Luis Reservoir doesn’t appear in jeopardy at this time. Water quality from the California Aqueduct has been acceptable. The SWC GM is working a lot with Delta issues and the State Board. The Southern California Water Bank Authority is restructuring.

John Jones of DWR Inc. reported things are going well.

Political consultant and former state senator Dean Florez said there will be a meeting in Sacramento with state Senator Shannon Grove, Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, DWR Chief Karla Nemeth and some of the democratic wheel hosses. He said Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget has the biggest reserve in state history to prepare for recession. The governor’s Water Resiliency Portfolio hasn’t gone well with the enviro community but the rest of the population seems OK with it.

Information & Updates

Gianquinto said December pumping to San Luis Reservoir was great up until the end of the year. He said Kern County has the M&I and ag contract with DWR for SWP water. The new deal with the KCWA managed contracts is an opt in and opt out conundrum. The KGA has been focusing on the GSP chapters and it is expected to be approved at the next meeting on the 15th in Bakersfield. Medina spoke about concrete panels in the district’s canals. Some of them need to be replaced and are being replaced. The panels don’t have rebar and Director John Lynch also works for the district and said the extreme fluctuations of levels cause water behind the panels to push them out.

The meeting then went into closed session.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide his clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.  * Immediately made me think of that George Clooney movie “Men Who Stare at Goats.”

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2020 by Waterwrights/Don A. Wright.

SEMITROPIC WATER STORAGE DISTRICT

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1101 Central Avenue, Wasco, CA 93280-0877 • 661-758-5113 • mail@semitropic.com

Board: Rick Wegis – Vice President, Philip W. Portwood ,  President- Dan Waterhouse , Todd Tracy – Secretary, Jeff Fabbri, Tim Thomson, Tom Toretta

Staff: Jason Gianquinto-General Manager, Bobby SalinasDistrict Controller, Isela MedinaDistrict Engineer, Executive Secretary-Marsha Payne, Consultant-Will Boschman, Superintendent-John Lynch & Attorney

About: Semitropic Water Storage District is one of eight water storage districts in California and is the largest in Kern County. The District delivers water to nearly 300 customers for the irrigation of approximately