The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 from its Tulare County headquarters on Zoom. Chairman Dave Bixler called the meeting to order at 9am. There were no public comments but General Manager Aaron Fukuda introduced James Fisher as TID’s new Water Resource Engineer. Good for him.
The minutes were approved and Water Master Marco Crenshaw gave the water report. He said there is only 100,000 a/f left in Millerton Lake before the water level gets so low that water can’t flow into the Friant Kern Canal. The Kaweah River is experiencing the lowest runoff in history. The San Joaquin River isn’t doing well either. Right now there will be a 20 percent allocation from Friant but that may drop. All of TID’s share of CVP water will be used for M&I in Lindsay if I understand.
Crenshaw said the Kaweah River yield will be so small it would be better to recharge the supply than try to divvy it up between growers. One of the problems with dry years besides the fundamental lack of water is the lack of water sales to help finance the district. Director Rick Borges pointed out he doesn’t believe the US Bureau of Reclamation will stick with a 20 percent allocation on the Friant water. There is a possibility the Kaweah River hasn’t peaked yet.
Superintendent Wayne Fox said this has been a good year for sand. One of the district’s channel was drier than normal so crews were able to move some sand out of the channel. The district now has a good supply of materials. Fox also reported other ditches have been refurbished as well as gates, SCADA stations and solar panels. The crew also had a man lift and was able to paint some of the district’s buildings.
Fukuda said TID can pick up some extra work from the Cities of Tulare and Visalia and the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District. This will help spread out some of the payroll costs and keep valuable employees busy.
Fukuda also said Crenshaw’s Ford F150 is being given to Fisher and Crenshaw will get a new pickup. Fukuda said trucks have been rotated out at 100,000 miles and now they’re thinking about upping that to 150,000 miles before the replacement process starts. The district is looking for a heavy duty truck to move tools around. Director Mike Thomas suggested holding on to the current fleet as is due to lack of income. Fukuda said the purchase of the tool truck will only happen if a very good deal is found. The board approved the new F150.
Next Kathi Artis gave the board a look at the books. They have $12 million on hand and that might be enough to get through most of the year. The board approved the financial report and paid its bills. Fukuda said Friant Kern Canal repair costs are going to be with them for a while. The San Luis Delta Mendota expenses will be the same, just spread over less water. Also, the air conditioner for the computer server room went out and that had to be replaced. As usual when you have a table full of farmers the expenses were looked at closely.
The district is engaged in a long-range financial plan. Fukuda said things are going well. They are on the second version of the cash flow model. Fukuda went over the capital improvement plan with the board. It was a little difficult to read the document posted but the plan calls for a proactive upgrade of infrastructure worth $22 million over the next 12-years.
TID Engineer Jeremy Barroll reported a grower put several water lines over a TID ditch. That situation is being addressed by staff. He also said there is a culvert at Freeway 99 and Paige Avenue. I believe the City of Tulare is coming through there with roundabouts.
Fukuda said the Interbasin Coordination is moving forward well. The modeling is coming to gather with an emphasis on watching out for subsidence. The annual reports swung all over the place for change in storage. Tulare Lake and the Tule River Subbasins were very dissimilar to the Kaweah. The figures from Tule showed 1.3 million a/f and that can’t be right. There was never any feedback from DWR about last year’s annual reports. Geoff Vanden Heuvel said the disparity was due to extrapolation from too few data points and the Tule report sticks out like a soar thumb because they didn’t coordinate within the subbasin itself. Everyone agreed the investment must be upstream and that idea is being fleshed out. Also Fukuda said there is buy in from everyone to get the technical teams together before everyone starts arguing over figures.
There is also interest in further Sky Temp ground surveys that could benefit TID without it spending a penny if I understood. The Prop 68 grant round is starting up again and Fukuda said there is good reason to hope Mid Kaweah GSA can get some of the money for the Okieville recharge project. Mid Kaweah is working on a list of projects that can qualify for other grant funding. A work schedule has been developed. He said there is a great deal of work and he’s trying to keep things organized to prevent a work load stack up that could result in missing end of year deadlines. Montgomery & Associations is taking a look that the MKGSA well monitoring plan. The Waukena School District has a 800 foot well that is triple nested to gage three aquifer levels. The School District wants to allow it for a monitoring well. And finally both the Cities of Visalia and Tulare have had their city managers announce they’re retiring.
Fukuda said the principal of Davis Engineering in Sacramento passed away unexpectedly. That kind of left things high and dry in developing water usage. Joel Kimmelshue of Land IQ and Fukuda have been talking. Land IQ uses satellite and ground truthing. The costs have fallen and the Mid Kaweah GSA is a donut hole. Literally everyone in surrounding MKGSA uses Land IQ to acquire the ET. Provost & Pritchard or Four Creeks Engineering would then calculate pumping. Fukuda said this needs to be a TID project, Land IQ won’t be measuring the cities and there’s a cost savings. He asked the board to request a proposal from Land IQ. Director Dave Martin said this is a good place to start because the data is needed. Martin said to push for a discount on the first year until more ground truthing stations are installed. The board approved.
Friant & Others
Fukuda said the cost share for Friant Kern Canal repairs has passed. He pointed out both Fresno ID and the City of Fresno voted no, simply because their boards could not see the benefits to themselves. He said that was unfortunate but the vote did pass. The Friant Water Authority hired GSI Engineering to monitor subsidence.
There is a Seaborne Reservoir Project that has the dual benefit of providing storage and some habitat. This is a substantial amount of storage when combined with the McKay’s Point project. Up to 10,000 a/f.
State Senator Melissa Hurtado is pushing the SB 559 bill again but this time it will include more than just the FKC with the California Aqueduct and the Delta Mendota Canal. I think it will help with up to $3 billion in funding for subsidence and other needed repairs and maintenance. The board felt this is a worthy expenditure of taxpayers’ money.
Fukuda said Governor Gavin Newsom announced he’ll spend part of the state’s $76 billion surplus ($5.1 billion) on water infrastructure and drought. SGMA, subsidence, drinking water and bunch more are identified as funding targets. On the federal side Senator Dianne Feinstein is proposing $35 billion to update and repair aging infrastructure. Martin asked what happens to this money? This should be enough to help identify and solve the nitrates from septic tanks polluting DAC domestic water supplies problem. I don’t know if there is so much overhead once this money is shoveled in the government’s maw results are diminished. Fukuda said there are big problems but he did have kind words for DWR’s willingness to listen. He said if you add up all the SGMA projects there isn’t enough water to meet those demands.
Thomas had asked about reservoirs around the state and Fukuda said Don Pedro and New Melones are at normal. Everyone else is below save for the Met WD surface storage down south. There is a call by the State Board to both the Bureau and DWR for temperature control that was described as pouring gas on the fire. Despite all of this gloom Fukuda said TID is in relatively good shape. There will have to be pumping but it won’t be devastating to the area’s GSP. The State Water Project has a five percent allocation. South and north of Delta CVP is five on hold. Friant is at 20 percent. Met has developed some diverse supply options. It spent $44 million to purchase 65,000 a/f. Met’s budget is almost two billion dollars. That’s how Met does it. The only reservoirs besides Don Pedro and New Melones that are full right now belong to Met and these are off stream storage.
TID expects significant strain on DACs and rural residential wells. Tulare County has been point in this matter until now. Self Help Enterprises has taken the lead and now that Newsom has declared a little more drought in California Self Help has access to some money. In the past the demand was much greater than the ability to meet the need. Therefore Fukuda has been speaking with Self Help and offered TID’s help in some capacity. Self Help said it could benefit from using the TID yard as a staging ground. In the past Self Help didn’t have a forklift so it had to unload bottled water loads by hand. Self Help’s targeted population is TID constituents. The board was good with this as they are also friends, neighbors and rely on well water and want to be helpful. Fukuda said he’ll also ask the MKGSA about sharing hotspot data for preparation of where the need will be.GM Report
There will be Grower Outreach Meetings on May 24th and 25th. This will be an opportunity to discuss TID’s needs and how meeting those needs benefits the area. For one, a healthy TID prevents turning things into a white area. This will include current water supply, the status of MKGSA and the future of TID. There were no action items at this part of the meeting which is unusual.
Borges said there will be ethics training after the next Friant meeting and it’s also picture day. He contemplated maybe dressing like a hobo. We’ll see. He also said 80 percent of the Hotspot Ag monitoring system is already installed. He said it’s too bad there’s not more water to monitor. He also said the Greater Kaweah GSA 218 Election passed by 80 percent which is very solid.
The meeting went into closed session at 11:36 am for about eight items of a legal nature. It sounded like it wouldn’t be too long and that was that.
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TULARE IRRIGATION DISTRICT
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.