The Friant Water Authority held its Executive Committee meeting at its Lindsay headquarters and on Microsoft Teams. The meeting started in closed session at 8:30am. At 10:30am Chairman Cliff Loeffler announcing there was no reportable action from closed session. CEO Jason Phillips asked Four Creeks Engineering’s Dave DeGroot to give a presentation.
DeGroot gave the committee an update on the Eastern Tule GSA’s water accounting. He said the ETGSA is about 160,000 acres. It is looking at five buckets of water. One is the natural supply, two is the groundwater, three is groundwater credits, four is surface water and five is the transitional water based on historical consumption. That goes from 10 to 20 to 30 percent reductions over the SGMA 20-year timeline. The first year the water from 2020 was removed from allocations. Only farmland historically farmed was allocated water – not city, range or fallowed land. If someone jumped ahead and fallowed in response to SGMA appeals are allowed. The idea is to incentivize fallowing, not discourage it.
DeGroot said adjustments will take place next year. So, 2020 precipitation impacts allocations. He said Land IQ and other metrics are being used to arrive at figures. Precipitation can’t be transferred. He said 90 percent of the landowners are part of the accounting system. There is outreach and education going on but very soon data will be locked in. ETGSA is using about 240,000 a/f annually. Voices in the conversation, not visuals sounded like ETGSA attorney Aubrey Mauritson, Aaron Fukuda, Chris Tantau, Edwin Camp and Phillips. The appeal for this presentation is the worst subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal takes place within the ETGSA. This is a complicated system of accounting for water. It becomes more complicated when there are no documentation available to refer to. Please don’t take this report as in anyway comprehensive, not that you would.
Camp said this is not the information he based his decision to enter into a settlement with ETGSA. DeGroot, hydrogeologist Thomas Harder and Land IQ’s Joel Kimmelshue are part of the water accounting technical advisors for ETGSA. DeGroot had to leave shortly after 11:00am.
Friant Attorney Don Davis asked Mauritson when a recalculation can take place. She said it would have to take place in the September board meeting to have it apply to the start of the water year in October.
The minutes were approved. And under public comment there was a request for the video camera at the board room to be turned on and due to a technical glitch there was no video available. Someone from the board commented this may well be a blessing.
The next item dealt with the FKC repairs. COO Doug DeFlitch wasn’t available to give a report as he’s heading up to Sacramento for some reason. Phillips said the bids are out and that’s about all he knows. Davis said there was a resolution of necessity adopted at the last board meeting that allowed for condemnation. He said six parcels were targeted but the property owners have decided they’d rather negotiate and relations are pretty good if I understood. It sounded like the necessity resolution really just sped things up. More than three fourths of the 28 parcels have had a positive outcome so far.
Phillips reported FWA and the US Bureau of Reclamation have been in negotiations on repayment contracts for the canal repairs. Just then a full screen video of new CFO Wilson Orvis appeared. So that’s what he looks like, a regular guy. He and Phillips said the negotiations will not raise the $50 million contribution cap for Friant contractors. He said issues included how that $50 million payment will be collected. Again, Phillips stressed there will be no increase in the $50 million amount. He said one contractor may want to prepay and others not, not all members have to opt for the same thing. In this case all the Bureau wants is the money. It doesn’t care about how the money is raised. Phillips said the SB 559 has money in it and there are meetings scheduled to see how to spend it should that money become a reality.
Davis said the agreements with Tulare County on the canal repairs is waiting on the Bureau to sign off. The Bureau wants some changes to the indemnity language. Davis said the new language isn’t a significant change from what the board already agreed to.
Phillips said the 24-hour offsite board meeting was a success. He said although it was a public meeting there wasn’t much public in attendance. The biggest item was the strategic plan update. That plan hasn’t been updated since 2016. There will be more information at the August meeting. Loeffler said it was very productive and intense.
Phillips CEO report was next. He said the drought is sitting on top of layers and layers of regulations. Most of his time, Ian Buck Macleod and the other team members is being spent on this matter. The question is will the Friant allocations hold. He said there is productive talks between Friant, the Bureau, Exchange Contractors and others involved. He expects it to hold. Loeffler thanked him for the efforts. That was that for the open session. The committee went back into closed session for more discussions on legal matters. Loeffler said Mauritson offered to attend the closed session for ETGSA and that offer may be taken. The meeting ended at 11:32am.
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FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY
854 N. Harvard Ave., Lindsay, CA 93247, Office 559/562-6305 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.friantwater.org
The Friant Water Authority is a Joint Powers Agreement with 17 districts to operate and maintain the Friant Division of the Central Valley Water Project. Water from the San Joaquin River is diverted at Friant Dam at Millerton Lake to the Madera/Chowchilla Canal to the north and the Friant/Kern Canal to the south. More than one million acres of mostly family farms and numerous communities get their surface supplies from the Friant Division.
Staff: CEO Jason Phillips, COO Doug DeFlitch, CFO Wilson Orvis, Government Affairs & Communication Alexandra Biering, Water Resource Manager Ian Buck-Macleod, Superintendent Chris Hickernell, Chief of External Affairs Johnny Amaral, Director of Technology Christopher Hunter and Attorney Don Davis.