By Joel Hastings

The Madera Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on March 17, 2020 at the District offices in Madera and on a conference line, in light of the new directive from the Governor requiring meetings not to exceed 10 people. The meeting began at 1 p.m. in a closed session so the board could hear from its legal counsel on four items of existing litigation and two that are anticipated.

The open meeting began at 2:11 p.m. with the pledge and then call to order by President Jim Erickson.

When public comments were invited, Paul Stewart, a member of the public on the phone, asked for confirmation of what he had heard about the Madera Sub basin GSPs and the need for a coordinating agreement which only three of the four GSAs had signed. He said he’d heard that the New Stone Water District had not signed, thereby causing the Sub basin GSP to be in violation, losing some $500,000 in state assistance. Since this item was the first bit of business when the Board convened as the MID Groundwater Sustainability Agency, it was taken up a moment later.

President Erickson confirmed that what Stewart described was true. He said the MID was working with the other GSAs to determine a course of action considering the State Water Board rejecting the Sub basin plans. Stewart asked if the state would act in support of the three conforming GSAs – Madera (including MID, the city and the county), Root Creek and Gravelly Ford. The answer was that a news release describing the situation would be forthcoming and the three groups were considering next steps.

After discussion of this item, the group adjourned as a GSA and opened the regular board meeting with the approval of minutes December 17, January 16 and February 5 meetings.

On a motion by Carl Janzen and second by Dave Loquaci, several items were approved to create updated and consistent employee policies on items involving vacations, sick leave, holidays and the like as developed by HR Administrator Tanesha Welch.

Jennifer Furstenberg presented the bills for payment and the financial report and later in the meeting was approved as Interim Controller.

Charles Contreras gave the maintenance report. Significant work is being done by his team on the aging infrastructure including replacement of some 2600 feet of worn and damaged pipe. He described cleaning trash screens, canal cleaning and overpass work by the high-speed rail agency across canals.

General Manager Thomas “Tommy” Greci opened his report thanking those on the conference line for their patience and just confirming that a meeting of more than 10 people is not now allowed. Other changes brought about by the new reality of COVID-19 concerns include the cancellation of the ACWA spring conference originally set for May 5 – 8. It was also agreed that the banquet celebrating the MID’s 100th anniversary be postponed from May 5 until fall. While invitations had just gone, out, it was explained that no more tickets would be sold and notice would be issued. Tickets already purchased will be honored or refunded.

Greci spoke to the $64 question of water supply. He observed that three-quarters of an inch of rain had fallen at the office in the recent storm and snow is down into the foothills. He says he hopes the weather pattern has changed and it feels like winter out there right now.  There is a decent amount of water in Hensley Lake as we speak, he said. Currently, MID is being told there will be 20% of class 1 water for Friant water users. When will season start? Can’t say yet, but Friant has asked for a schedule of how 25% Class 1 would be used, so maybe there’s room for improvement.

He said the Madera city manager is eager for a partnership to use the water basins on the Municipal Golf Course for recharge basins, a good thing all around. He continues his efforts to reach out to the public and had made a presentation at a local school recently.

Item update from Attorney Jack Kinsey concerned the Fresno River Adjudication and Facilitation Process regarding riparian rights. He said because of confidentiality agreements he couldn’t provide much detail but discussions are ongoing, with MID doing its best to participate in the process. The state will have to get involved if no agreement is reached among the users and some Fresno residents with property along the riverbanks.

A presentation from Sustainable Conservation on 2019 On-Farm Recharge Program was tabled considering meeting attendance issues.

The board agreed that a parcel of some 412 acres of property it owns outside the MID footprint be annexed with agreement from Gravelly Ford in whose district it is currently.

Individual board members offered their reports.

Richard Cosyns… glad to see maintenance happening around district, particularly in his neighborhood. He said folks are asking about the price of water this year and all he’s said is “it’s not going to be cheap.” On Feb. 26 met with Carl Jansen to respond to questions about water for projects outside MID.  The answer is no district water for projects outside of that an MID resident might want to do.

Brian Davis… Credited Contreras with his work on maintenance, construction and beautification. The comment was made, “Even if we don’t have water.” The board appreciates what Contreras and his crew can do that used to have to be contracted for.  Davis asked for a moment of silence on the passing of Steve Emmert, longtime farmer whose family has been closely connected with MID.

Carl Jansen… attended Friant Power Authority meeting where he continues as Vice Chair. He expects all generators to be running but in a short water year anticipates less power being produced. He credited maintenance staff for being able to realign a badly vibrating generator after poor installation and now it’s running properly. The original transformers aging out and they have already put in $1 million from good water year last year into a fund for replacement.

Loquaci… great to see all board members here. Agreed that Steve Emmert and his family had a long history with the MID.

Erickson… attending Madera Water Authority meetings. The Executive Committee meeting had to change locations and with new meeting rules, no one is sure where it will be held.

The chairman confirmed the next MID meeting for Apr 21 and adjourned at 3 p.m.

In addition to reporting for WaterWrights.net Joel Hastings has 40-years experience writing about Holstein cattle. He is the publisher and editor of Dairy Business The Future of Dairy https://www.dairybusiness.com/ 

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MADERA IRRIGATION DISTRICT

12152 Rd 28 ¼  Madera CA 93637

Ph 559.673.3512  www.madera-id.org

Board: James Erickson – president, Richard Cosyns – vice president, Brian Davis, Carl Janzen and Dave Loquaci

Staff: Thomas Greci – General Manager, Dina Nolan – Asst. General Manager, Andrea Sandoval – Board Secretary & Exec. Asst., Jennifer Furstenberg – Interim Controller, Tanesha Welch – Human Resources Administrator, Charles Contreras – Operations & Maintenance Manager. Jack Kinsey is legal counsel.

 The mission of the Madera Irrigation District is to obtain and manage affordable surface water and groundwater supplies in a manner which will ensure the long-term viability of irrigated agriculture in the District. The MID encompasses approximately 139,665 acres. MID operates a primarily gravity irrigation distribution system with approximately 300 miles of open flow canal systems as well as 150 miles of large diameter pipelines. The District celebrates 100 years in 2020.

The District has a Central Valley Project (CVP) repayment contract with United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) providing up to 85,000-acre feet (AF) of Class 1 and 186,000 AF of Class 2 water per year from the Friant Division (Millerton Lake). The CVP water is released from Millerton Lake through the Friant Dam, and then conveyed through the Madera Canal for delivery into the District’s service area. The District also entered into a CVP repayment contract with the USBR for the yield from the Hidden Unit (Hensley Lake). Under the Hidden Unit contract, the average annual supply available to the District is approximately 24,000 AF per year.

The District has Pre-1914 rights to divert water from Big Creek (Big Creek Diversion) and the North Fork of Willow Creek (Soquel Diversion). The Big Creek Diversion originates in Big Creek, a tributary of the Merced River. This Diversion is located just upstream of Fish Camp, CA, where the water is redirected to flow down Lewis Creek, a tributary of the upper Fresno River. The Soquel Diversion originates in North Fork Willow Creek, a tributary of the San Joaquin River. This Diversion is located approximately 9 miles upstream of Bass Lake, where water can be redirected to flow through the Soquel Ditch to Nelder Creek, a tributary of the upper Fresno River. Alternatively, water can be left in North Fork Willow Creek, and allowed to flow to Bass Lake and eventually to the San Joaquin River, where it can be diverted in Friant Dam. MID also has a Pre-1914 water right on the Fresno River.