By Joel Hastings
Photo by Andrea Kwock Sandoval, MID 100-YEAR HISTORY BOOK The very first copy of this newly published hard-cover book was presented to members of the family of the late Steve Emmert, to whom the book is dedicated. From left are Cristin Toschi, Pauline Emmert, Wyatt Emmert, Steven McDougald, and Amy Cadenazzi.
The Madera Irrigation District held a meeting on September 15, 2020. It was called to order via Zoom at 1:04 p.m. by President Jim Erickson. After role call with all in attendance, the Board went into executive session. Director Rick Cosyns was recused from items in the Session and there was no public comment. The closed session agenda listed two anticipated and three existing items of litigation.
After the scheduled hour-long executive session, the MID Board open meeting was called back to order at 2:16 p.m. by President Erickson with nothing to report. The Pledge was said, and no potential conflicts were identified. Public comments were invited, and one hand was raised. Tim DaSilva said he saw a meeting of the county GSA advisory committee and complained there were no rates yet for water allocations from the county. It was noted that this board was going to convene shortly as the GSA, so there could be some comment at that time.
Someone Had a Birthday
Before that, though, was the presentation of the first copy of the book 100 Years of the Madera Irrigation District in remembrance of Steve Emmert. The author, Jeff Crider, was on Zoom and gave an overview of the book’s process. Had been working for the past several years, documenting how the district was formed to support ag and to prevent overdraft, which was even happening a century ago. MID led some of the key court battles against Miller and Lux, the giant ranching company. MID was key in the Central Valley project, Friant Dam and Millerton Lake. He said he was honored to be part of the process. The first book was presented to the Emmert family because of their contributions to MID. The ceremony was outside the office in front of the 100-year memorial sign.
The group returned, and Andrea Sandoval, Board secretary and executive assistant reminded everyone to make reservations for the Centennial Celebration on October 2nd. It’s being held at the San Joaquin Winery from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Guests are asked to make a reservation for a time slot since the size of the audience at any one time will be limited to allow social distancing. Directors and staff will be on hand to greet the public and copies of the history will be provided. Reservations close Sept. 23 and can be made at the MID office… phone 559.673.3514 ext. 215 or online at https://midcentennial.eventbrite.com. There is no admission fee.
The MID Board was adjourned, and the GSA board meeting was underway at 2:40 p.m. with one item on the agenda, an update on parcel acquisition RFPs. Landowners in MID will be able submit a form to offer up their property for purchase by MID that could be used for recharge or other purposes deemed important to the District. An announcement will be made in October. Property owners who choose to do so will offer a price that would be non-negotiable. They can hire a broker or attorney to represent them but that is the property owners’ expense. The Board would not be required to make a purchase. This information was presented by Dina Nolan, assistant general manager. No vote was taken but it was the consensus that this should go forward.
The Actual MID Meeting
After this discussion, the MID Board was reconvened with the first items of business the consent agenda for minutes of the August 6th meeting and approval of financial reports, which are included as part of the meeting folder here… https://maderaid-my.sharepoint.com/personal/andrea_madera-id_org/_layouts/15/onedrive.aspx?id=%2Fpersonal%2Fandrea%5Fmadera%2Did%5Forg%2FDocuments%2FMID%20Board%20Packets%2F20%2009%2015%20MID%2DGSA%20Board%20Meeting%20Packet%2Epdf&parent=%2Fpersonal%2Fandrea%5Fmadera%2Did%5Forg%2FDocuments%2FMID%20Board%20Packets&originalPath=aHR0cHM6Ly9tYWRlcmFpZC1teS5zaGFyZXBvaW50LmNvbS86YjovZy9wZXJzb25hbC9hbmRyZWFfbWFkZXJhLWlkX29yZy9FYUJQSmVuanI1Uk5nRmFuY3hGZGlmSUJtdVdaWGpQeGF3amtJV2k2WWRLTmxRP3J0aW1lPWhEd0hrTTVaMkVn
Controller Jennifer Furstenburg reported approximately 37,000 acre-feet of water was delivered in July/August 2020 for total water sales of approximately $5.8 million. The third and final payment for 2020 was received from the County of Madera for Assessments and Standby Charges on August 24th in the amount of $198,077.89. This payment was for receipts the County has collected on MID’s behalf through July 5, 2020. The semi-annual bond payments due September 1, 2020 have been made; the amount in excess of $2.68 million was transferred to Wells Fargo on August 13, 2020. (See below for important news about this bond.)
Tanesha Welch gave the HR report saying her department is onboarding a new maintenance worker, insuring that COVID employment policies are being observed and doing the annual risk management with the insurance carrier. A new policy for employee continuing education had been developed and was approved unanimously by the Board later in the meeting.
Charles Contreras, Operations & Maintenance Manager, gave the engineering, operations and maintenance report, with the long list of items accomplished described in a detailed hand-out for the Board. (See meeting materials). His report includes photos as well as descriptions of work being done across the District. He included projects accomplished in the welding shop, as well. He noted more vehicles are being used for these projects to allow proper spacing for employees following COVID practices. The Board continues to be impressed with what Charles and his staff accomplish.
General Manager Thomas Greci was happy to report that a section of the yard that had been a magnet for unused and not very useful equipment and “stuff” had been cleaned up as well, referencing the staff work by Contreras and his crew. He said the next board meeting will be November 3rd combining October and November meetings.
Greci said an “exciter” is being repaired on the Madera Canal. He’s was planning a visit the next day so he could see what an “exciter” is. He said representatives of both the Chowchilla and Madera Districts will be visiting the canal on September 23rd with officials of the Bureau of Reclamation to jointly identify repair and maintenance priorities.
He finished his report noting that earlier, the Bureau of Reclamation had been discussing the possibility of a two percent late water declaration. But with the fires in the region, the Reservoir is dropping, and water is being held back, making a late declaration unlikely.
The Board enthusiastically and unanimously approved a new employment contract for Furstenberg as controller, moving her up from interim controller. She was praised by Greci and Nolan for her experience and diligence. Her previous work in other departments working with water, customers and the wide variety of agreements the District requires is especially helpful. Her annual salary is $80,000.
Another item was extending an agreement with PG & E that dated back to 1977. The PG&E agreement provides MID compensation for allowing water that would have historically been diverted by MID into a neighboring watershed to continue through PGE’s power generating facilities (Bass Lake/Crane Valley Project) and ultimately to Millerton Lake for re-diversion by MID. PG&E compensates MID for the additional power they are able to generate from the flows. It’s called the Soquel Diversion and since 1995, it has been approved on an annual basis and was again this year, unanimously.
Next was a brief discussion and action in support of the Madera / Chowchilla Resource Conservation District working collaboratively with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The letter, suggested by the local RCD, would provide a “united front” in approaching NRCS for support of local priorities.
If we were doing a standard news report of this meeting, the story lead would no doubt be this next item. The MID staff announced that a 30-year bond taken out in 2015 for $29,275,000 million was going to be paid off 14 years early… by 2026. It had been approved by landowners in the MID via a 218 vote in order to pay off the on-going obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation for Madera’s infrastructure in the Central Valley Water Project. While the bond removed the federal government from MID, it was costing MID landowners from $24.30 to $38.10 per acre annually in bond and interest payments. With careful fiscal and operational management, MID’s early payoff will result in 14 years of savings to property owners.
In a news release issued on September 16th Erickson says, “MID is extremely proud that it has been able to reduce the bond obligation and bond life for the benefit of its landowners. This is money that goes right back into the pockets of MID landowners.”
At the meeting, Director David Loquaci said that now MID will be able to concentrate grower money on water acquisition which is what’s needed for SGMA. Other directors made comments expressing their appreciation the bond obligations would be discharged so much earlier than originally scheduled.
Director reports rounded out the meeting.
Rick Cosyns – He was happy with the good news on the Bond.
Brian Davis – Said he had nothing to report
Carl Janzen – He said this morning he attended a Zoom meeting on ACWA with ten others for District 6. He said it was informative and he was pleased to be able to share MID priorities. It was an hour well spent, he said.
Dave Loquaci – He said he can’t wait to get 2020 behind us; hoping we can get our crops in since there is no sun for drying raisins.
Jim Erickson – As a member of the Friant Executive Committee he said it looked like a long row to hoe to get funding to repair the Friant – Kern Canal.
The meeting adjourned at 3:36 p.m.
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Madera Irrigation District – 12152 Road 28 ¼ Madera, CA 93637 559/673-3514
Staff: General Manager -Thomas Greci, Assistant GM – Dina Nolan
Board: Dave Loquaci, Rick Cosyns, Brian Davis, Jim Erickson and Carl Janzen
HISTORY: From www.madera-id.org The Madera Irrigation District (MID or District) encompasses an area of 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 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.
DWR SGMA # 5-022.06