The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its Tuesday, July 6, 2021 board of directors meeting at its Farmersville headquarters and remotely on GoToMeeting. The Exchange Contractors also use GoToMeeting but they don’t broadcast the audio portion. I was sitting waiting for the meeting to start and when the video came up there was no sound. Worried I was missing something so I tried to call in on the phone but the sound came on and all was well. And long distance calls pre-cell cost a fortune.
When I was a child my grandparents would tell me stories about what it was like before the automobile and air travel. How they came to California from Georgia on rail and avoided train robbers.* I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the younguns’ attention with stories about how I used to have an answering machine and a pager.
Chairman Don Mills kicked things off at 9:00am and asked for a moment of silence in respect for a fallen friend. It is with sadness I report to you engineer Richard Schafer has passed at the age of 95.
Water Leaders is a foundation that helps develop people into leadership positions. The most appropriately named Lynn Groundwater, an engineer from Provost & Pritchard is in the program. She said this year’s assignment is water “equity” which is a disturbing buzzword, but all the better to have her there. Good for her.
KDWCD Water Master Vick Hernandez started with the less than optimistic statement that this may be the worst year on record if things continue like they are on the Kaweah River and I don’t know anyone who expects a big snowstorm to come through between now and November. If I understand there is only 45,000 a/f in storage at Lake Kaweah – that’s about 15-16 percent of normal.
Central Valley Project
Engineer Dennis Keller reported the US Bureau of Reclamation is wrestling with the State Board over pumping from the Delta. He said in his mind Friant will be in line for maybe 15 percent of its allocations. It was at 20 percent but without Delta pumping that will most likely fall. He said it could drop to three to four percent CVP on the Friant Division worst case scenario. Kaweah Delta has some trades and transfers available but all of this is impacted by Shasta releases on the Sacramento River. Keller reported there has been heated negotiations between the Bureau’s Ernest Conant and DWR’s Karla Nemeth over the Cooperative Operating Agreement between the state and feds on Delta operations. There is a D-1621, Decision 1621 Keller said was at the heart of the State Board’s actions.
One of the problems with a year like this is running water down a dry channel. You can lose a third of the water to soaking in the ground and such. Mills asked Keller if there was any other good news on CVP to report. There wasn’t.
DeFlitch said the Friant Kern Canal repair is out for bids. Final bids are due on the 12th of this month. At that point a review of the bids will take place and then an award for the contract will be announced. He said a stretch from Deer Creek to south of Porterville will be a realignment, as second canal to be built parallel to the current canal. All the water will go into the new section but there isn’t a final decision of what to do with the old part of the canal. Some of it can be used for construction material for the new portion.
DeFlitch said this isn’t the only section of the canal that needs repairs, just the worst section. He said by the end of 2022 he expects a complete review of the entire canal and to start developing plans of how to fix it. He reported there was $200 million in the state budget targeted for the FKC, the Delta Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct. How the money will be divided up hasn’t been decided. If it goes to the most shovel ready first then Friant is further along. But that hasn’t been decided. He said there is a lot of earth word to complete on the FKC project.
Subsidence has been the greatest cause of damage to the canal. DeFlitch said in cooperation with the US Geological Survey a very deep well has been drilled near the Saucilito ID headquarters south of Porterville. This is showing the rate of subsidence for that part of the Valley floor and things are still dropping. Mills said all the concrete in the Valley is being delivered by High Speed Rail or perhaps delivered to HSR. DeFlitch said there almost certainly will be a batch plant constructed for the FKC repairs.
KDWCD uses Hotspot Ag’s monitoring system for its diversion network. It was said Hernandez now has time to drink coffee in the morning. Diversions on the St. Johns and Kaweah Rivers and other locations are monitored with remote access to the data. (Full disclosure, HotSpot Ag is a WaterWrights.net client but the folks at Kaweah Delta have been in love with HotSpot well before they signed on with us, so this isn’t shameless promotion.) I think it was KDWCD Engineer Larry Dotson said there has been a savings in man hours and greater efficiency along the system. Hernandez said, “. . . so far this has been amazing.” Ditch tenders can plan ahead and Dotson said the data system can be expanded to include more locations. He also said much of the data can be automatically analyzed and stored online. There are 35 charts that have to be produced weekly and they all take up to an hour to prepare on paper. There are a few other features the district wants to have added to the system and that’s doable. Dotson mentioned pumps coming on during different times of the day have been a blind spot in managing the delivery system. That is changing and HotSpot will help greatly in estimating needs. It also self-monitors for power usage. So that was the HotSpot report.
Keller reported the special made pipe has been delivered to the Hannah Ranch recharge site and they are just about ready to pull the coffer dam from the FKC after another 20-truck concrete pour this Saturday. Some massive gates ordered from Waterman have also been delivered. I think Keller enjoyed showing the photos and describing the project. He’s worked hard on it.
Keller said the temperatures in the turnout section where the pour will take place are going to be incredibly hot. They are going to start at 4:00am as temperatures are predicted to be 112 degrees. The curing of the concrete ads another 10 to 20 degrees. They will actually add ice to the mix and I don’t know if they have to worry about the cure taking place too quickly but you can add calcium to mix to slow down the cure. In any event be glad you’re not a cement mason this Saturday. Keller said the work schedule had called for this pour to take place last winter.
Just when the Hannah Ranch report was going well Keller reminded the board they owed about $1 million to the contractor. The board agreed to pay. There was a leak problem and the soils engineer is on top of it. He said the costs of material has been hard hitting. Plywood has gone from $30 to $100 per sheet. That’s why they are using steel forms in some areas. Also, the district has been renting or leasing a heavy equipment tractor from Quinn and they offered to sell it. If KDWCD buys it now they’ll save $60,000 over the course of the lease.
Keller said the cement provider seems to love HSR more than the Hannah Ranch as they delivered only one truck load at a pour recently and the dispatcher wouldn’t answer the phone. The contractor had a good supply of stingers to vibrate the mix and keep it until the cement providers could catch up. That was almost a $1 million mess thanks to Cemex.
KDWCD is part of the Greater Kaweah GSA. GKGSA Executive Director Eric Osterling reported the 218 election passed and a contract was signed with Land IQ. He was very pleased with both of these development. All three of the GSAs in the Kaweah Subbasin are now with Land IQ (another WaterWrights.net client.) GKGSA is reviewing a technical memo from Fresno State University regrading ag well pumping that he believes will have far reaching and hopefully positive impacts for the Valley.
Osterling said Provost & Pritchard is going over the data with spreadsheets and Montgomery & Associates are working on other pieces of the water allocation puzzle. Sky Temp is gearing up to survey most of the alluvial plains in the Valley. He said Tulare ID has already covered a good deal of the Mid Kaweah GSA and GKGSA is looking to piggyback on that. He said while the GSA has a good relationship with Tulare County for well information, it’s taken a little longer for Kings County. But, he was pleased to report a data dump has taken place so things are moving along.
Osterling said DWR has provided some clarity on how GSAs are to structure their reports. So that helps. He said so far the plan calls for opening the meetings to the public and continuing to provide the online option. That’s good. The next meeting of the GSA will be next week on Monday. After questions Osterling said the groundwater leaving the subbasin boundaries is an important portion of the water accounting framework. Geoff Vanden Heuvel said this data is vital for allocating yield and how much groundwater is leaving the subbasin absolutely needs to be known. Osterling agreed but said the data on hand isn’t as granular as he’d like but he believes using Land IQ will help very much. He also said there are more discussions with the neighboring GSAs and subbasins coming up.
The next KDWCD is August 3rd at 9:00am. The meeting then went into closed session for talks about two potential lawsuits and that was that.
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*I guess you could say one potential benefit of High Speed Rail is masked men on horse back won’t be able to rob it. Of course it’s difficult to tell who the bad guy is with everyone from Antifa to kindly health care workers wearing masks.
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Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District
2975 N. Farmersville Blvd.
Farmersville, California 93223
559/747-5601 KDWCD is part or the Greater Kaweah GSA DWR #5-022.11
Board of Directors
Don Mills – President, Chris Tantau – Vice-President, Ron Clark, Jimi Valov, Jeff Ritchie, Mike Chrisman & Brian Watte
Terry Stafford, Facilities Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Vierra, Administrative/HR Coordinator – email@example.com
Larry Dotson, Senior Engineer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Office and Field Staff
Equipment Operators – Jesus Sandoval, Chris Bell
Water Master – Victor Hernandez
Office Assistant – Kathleen Halvorsen
Primary Consultants Bruce George – Special Projects Consultant
Dennis Keller – Civil Engineer (Keller/Wegley Consulting Engineers)
Aubrey Mauritson – Attorney (Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler, LLP)
From the Kaweah Delta website:
The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD) was formed in 1927, under the provisions of California state law known as the Water Conservation Act of 1927, for the purpose of conserving and storing waters of the Kaweah River and for conserving and protecting the underground waters of the Kaweah Delta. Later the Water Conservation Act, as well as the purpose of the District, was expanded to include power generation and distribution.
The District is located in the south-central portion of the San Joaquin Valley and lies in portions of both Tulare and Kings Counties. The total area of the District is about 340,000 acres with approximately 255,000 acres located in the western portion of Tulare County and the balance, or 85,000 acres, in the northeastern portion of the Kings County.
The Districts lands are primarily agricultural in nature, although the cities of Visalia and Tulare constitute significant areas of urbanization. Farmersville is the other incorporated area. The population of the District is currently estimated to be in excess of 175,000 people with the principle crops being cotton, misc. field crops, deciduous fruit and nut trees as well as alfalfa.
Numerous public and private entities within the District’s boundaries divert water from the Kaweah River and its distributaries. Nearly all of the lands served with Kaweah River water also are served irrigation water from groundwater, primarily due to the erratic and relatively undependable nature of flow on the Kaweah River. All municipal and industrial water uses within the District are supplied from groundwater.
KDWCD and Tulare Irrigation District (TID), which lies entirely within the boundaries of the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, has a long-term contract with the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) for water from the Friant Division of the CVP. TID has historically received substantial quantities of CVP water surplus to the demands of the District which augment the Kaweah River supply.
The District and the Kaweah River groundwater basin have experienced long-term groundwater overdraft estimated in 2007 to be as much as 40,000 acre-feet per year. The District has performed multiple studies of groundwater data to determine the extent and volume of groundwater overdraft within its boundaries. There are currently over 40 recharge basins within the District covering approximately 5,000 acres. While KDWCD owns and operates many of these groundwater recharge basins, it does not provide water banking services for others.