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McMullen Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency January 6, 2021

Ger Bennett BannerThe McMullin Area GSA board of directors met on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 and they met remotely by Zoom. Well, here it is 2021 already and this is the first meeting of the year I’ve been able to attend and report on. Last year we had fires, hurricanes, plague, civil unrest and a swath of poor decisions from elected officials and the media. So far this year it’s dry in the Central Valley. Maybe the vaccine will prevail and the rain will fall. As General Manager Matt Hurley said we’re looking at less than 19 years until complete sustainability is achieved. Chairman Jeevan Singh called the meeting to order at 2:00pm. I like how Singh acknowledges human nature. Most of the action items in a GSA have been worked out in advance. Most of the time the board votes unanimously. Singh only asks for nays, which are rare and that saves a lot of time taking a roll call on each vote.Bermad irrigation

Financial

There were no public comments. It was noted Don Cameron from Raisin City Water District is back on the board. The minutes were approved and the board took another look at the accounts payable and approved paying the bills. Cuttone & Maestro CPA had performed the most recent audit and Brian Trevarrow of Kings River Conservation District presented it to the board. He said this is the first full year audit of the GSA and everything has been found in order. The board approved.

GM Report

Hurley gave his report saying there is an effort underway with the US Bureau of Reclamation to help fund well metering within the agency’s boundary. That’ll help save the growers in the area some money. A meeting calendar for 2021 was shown and everyone was OK with the dates.

The board met last year in a workshop and another one is being planned for this year. This is a less formal opportunity to go over what goals will be featured this coming year. Hurley would like to meet next week in the afternoon for an hour. It was tougher to get the cats herded for next week than the entire year’s board meeting calendar. After a good deal of date juggling Thursday the 14th at 10:00am will be the workshop.

Raisin City WD has an on-farm flood irrigation program planned and Hurley said it appears to tie in nicely with the proposed water bank. RCWD will be the grantee and it sounded like a win/win. There is a draft MOA being reviewed by the boards and lawyers and it was meet with optimism at MAGSA.

Marketing Grant

Geosyntec Engineer Amer Hussain said there is a water market workshop coming up on January 27th. He said it will be somewhat limited by the Zoom v. in person aspect but it will show how a water market will work. He said there has been good and plentiful input from the stakeholders so far. There will be tech and stakeholder committees coming up soon which can be a good place to get a preview of the marketing program. He said this will be an opportunity to gain some exposure to what a water market in a groundwater only GSA like McMullen Area will look like. Sounds good.

Hurley reported Fresno State University has its grant funding together and MAGSA will be able to participate in weather gathering, well depth info and other data collection opportunities. There will be testing of flow meters and well levels and other such adventures. He expects about 900 meters will be needed and more grant funding to pay for them will be a priority.

Contract Renewals & Policies

Both Hurley and Provost & Pritchard are contracted with MAGSA and they both need renewing to continue. Hurley suggested taking P&P now and since his performance will be evaluated later in closed session he thought it best to wait until then to discuss his contract renewal. The board went along and approved P&P and will take a vote on Hurley later.

A groundwater measuring and construction policy needs to be adopted. MAGSA has a large portion of the Kings Subbasin overdraft. Having this policy in place will be helpful in providing proof it is meeting its obligation to correct the matter. A draft was presented to the board and Hurley said it is fairly broad but suits the agency and is compliant with the MAGSA GSP. He asked if the board would consider releasing the draft for review. It was asked if the County of Fresno will be charging extra due to the policy. Hurley said there shouldn’t be any additional cost from the county. However, it is on the table to require new wells to be constructed in a manner to allow easier water quality testing and level monitoring which could possibly save or cost more money depending on the configuration. A very wise lady once said, “He with the most data wins,” when it comes to defending groundwater usage. Metering, measuring and monitoring will be crucial for MAGSA. Installing meters and incorporating them in the data collection could be achieved agency-wide within a couple of years. That will allow the water marketing to progress. Hurley said the need for meters may out pace the supply. There is also a cost to this that would benefit greatly from grant funds.

On behave of the Milk Producers Council Geoff Vanden Heuvel asked why MAGSA has decided to go with metering instead of satellite monitoring. Hurley said the satellite monitoring doesn’t track the import and export of water. It isn’t as specific as needed and won’t hold up as well in court. He believes holding overdrafts accountable will be easier on a metering system. He said the other GSAs have surface water and much more data to draw on. Vanden Heuvel said he isn’t trying to cause a debate and he isn’t a stakeholder in MAGSA but satellite monitoring will be millions of dollars cheaper to the landowners. Hurley said he has a good deal of knowledge of Land IQ and believes metering will be better for the MAGSA. The board agreed and voted unanimously to release the draft policy. This is a great example of why releasing a draft of the policy can gather comments that wouldn’t be practical to go over in a board meeting. Vanden Heuvel will have the chance to flesh out his argument. Hylon Kaufmann of Ranch Systems said they are ready to work on monitoring with a good supply of ready to go meters in stock.

Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Next Hurley reported DWR is still reviewing GSPs up in Sacramento and has another yet to finish up. But he thinks MAGSA’s GSP is a strong plan and it is time to bow up and get ready to implement projects. He said MAGSA has relatively good water quality and many good recharge sites. The City of Kerman is working on constructing a new park that will serve as a recharge site and that’s a two-fer-one. Cameron asked Hurley if he knew how DWR will prioritize the release of GSP reviews. Hurley said he doesn’t know any more than DWR has 12 months more to wrap it up. He said P&P’s Ron Samuelian has been in contact with DWR and might have better info.

Under directors’ reports Singh said Mid Valley WD has two board vacancies.

KRCD’s Cristel Tufenkjian gave the outreach report saying website views have increased and there has been an 18 percent increase in signups. She said there is room for one more interested party to join the 300 Club, which was a creative way to say there are 299 interested parties so far. Also Twitter clicks are up. Tufenkjian gave the board an update on plans for future outreach activities. There is an educational webinar planned for schools in the GSA to let them know how SGMA will impact them.

The meeting then went into closed session and that was that.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2021 by WaterWrights.net/DAW

SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

McMullin Area GSA – The McMullin Area GSA member agencies are Fresno County, Raisin City Water District and the Mid Valley Water District. Located in Western Fresno County MMAGSA is one of seven GSAs in the Kings River Sub Basin.

DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kings 5-022.08

Directors – Brian Pacheco, Don Cameron, Gagan Batth, Jeevan Singh & Matt Abercrombie.

Staff – Matt Hurley, General Manager. Janelle Krattiger, District Counsel. Randy Hopkins, Engineer.

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