The Buena Vista Water Storage District held its Wednesday, July 21, 2021 board of directors meeting on Zoom from its Buttonwillow headquarters. At exactly 8:30am, the scheduled start time, Chairman John Vidovich called the meeting to order. BVWSD has some of the shorter meetings because it is run like a business meeting. It uses the consent calendar like a consent calendar should be used. Vidovich doesn’t allow the discussion to stray very far from the topic without reining in the speakers. That can chafe some but it does lead to a more efficient meeting. Listen in on a Metropolitan WD meeting sometime. Public comment can take an hour and topics range from diatribes by the disgruntled relatives of employees to international conspiracies.
The first order of business was Resolution No. 4408 the 2020 Agricultural Water Management Plan. A public hearing was opened and no one spoke up. The board voted unanimously in favor and this action will allow BVWSD to be in compliance for grant funding.
The minutes were then gone over and approved with one correction.
Public comments were next and an item was removed from the consent calendar concerning Lake Isabella Dam. A few other items were removed from the consent calendar and it was passed. Before you could type the previous sentence Marybeth Brooks gave her financial report and it was excepted.
Director Julien Parson was on the audit committee and that report was very short. There were no problems and the board accepted the audit. Hands down the best audit report I’ve ever heard.
There was a claim made against the district for damages. According to legal counsel the claim was made well after the time allowed under the law. A response letter was sent by the district denying the claim and the board was asked to ratify the letter. It did so.
Dan Bartel, new General Manager of the Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD (congrats) sent BV two proposals for water conveyance from the California Aqueduct to a banking facility shared by Rosedale and Irvine Ranch WD. Both paths would cross BV and grower owned lands. Director Terry Chicca was tasked with continuing that discussion with Rosedale.
The Isabella Dam item was pulled by grower Steve Houchin. Houchin said he believes the Dam will be repaired and the operations will be very similar to how it was run 17-years ago before the Army Corps decided to repair it. He said Chicca is the only one on the board with experience in that older form of dam operations. General Manager Tim Ashlock held a growers meeting to discuss this matter. Houchin said the amount of water stored calls for the board to take another consideration on how the dam will be operated and how BV will respond to those changes. Houchin said in his opinion BV may already have enough underground storage and not enough extraction ability. Ashlock said his opinion the carryover will not be what it was 17-years ago. Houchin flat out said that was incorrect. Vidovich invited Houchin to discuss this further with Ashlock.
Water supply update was next and Vidovich asked Andrew Bell about exchanging some Isabella water with State Water Project water. Director Jeof Wyrick asked if there is anyone to exchange with since there is so little water in the system. Wheeler Ridge, Lost Hills and Brenda Mesa have bought a total of 15,000 a/f from BV at $900 per. Houchin asked about what type of contract is used for water sales. Vidovich said it was written by attorney Isaac St. Lawrence and Houchin was welcome to discuss it with him offline.
The BV Coalition has some brackish water and Vidovich would like to investigate desalinization. He said the CV Salts will give some credit for salt remediation. Bell said the universal problem is what to do with the extracted salt. Vidovich asked for a committee to look at this and find out if cleaning it up is worth more than the cost to do so. He added the California Aqueduct has some higher than desired salt content. Wyrick said DWR continues to try to push the salt problem onto SGMA and he doesn’t think that’s a good fit.
Hunter Current, Renewable Resource Group asked what kind of credits Vidovich is looking at. Vidovich said there are credits similar to carbon credits available. Grower Rod Stiefvater spoke in favor of looking into this. Directors Craig Andrew and Parsons will be the committee.
Buena Vista GSA
Vidovich said the White Area farmland in BVGSA is pumping without restrictions. He suggested BVGSA look at similar measures such as those taken by Westlands WD. Chicca said although the Kern County LAFCo has authorized annexation the BVGSA is being sued by the Kern Water Bank and West Kern WD over this action and those growers need to know this. Now they do if they read the right reports. Vidovich said it would be good for BV to look at water sales to the white areas. Wyrick asked if BVGSA knows the natural yield. Ashlock said that study is just now starting and Westlands has more data as they have been studying the issue before SGMA. Wyrick said the BVGSA needs to keep in mind it will have to act if you want a pumping limit in the White Areas that’s different than that in the district. There were no comments in the directors’ forum.
St. Lawrence said the State Board is looking at Kern River issues and that will be a big part of the closed session. The meeting went into closed session at 9:08am. Thirty-eight minutes of fast paced agenda chewing got as much business covered as some meetings do in two hours. You can’t pee like a puppy at a BV meeting. I’ll confess I have an appreciation for a well run meeting and I do know a bit about meetings. If you come to a Buena Vista meeting and want to make an impact – know your Roberts Rules of Order, know your topic and have some prepared, cogent and succinct comments ready and it will go better for you. That’s all, go be good to yourselves.
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Buena Vista Water Storage District was organized in 1924 to manage the irrigation, drainage systems and water rights originally held by Miller & Lux. The district controls an average 130,000 a/f of Kern River water and approximately 21,000 a/f of supplies from the State Water Project. BVWSD is its own GSA. Board of Directors meetings are held the 3rd Wednesday of the month at district headquarters located at: 525 North Main Street, Buttonwillow, CA 93206. Phone: 661/324-1101 www.bvh20.com General Manager/Engineer: Tim Ashlock, Engineer Andrew Bell, Controller: Marybeth Brooks, Attorney: Robert Hartsock or Isaac St. Lawrence
Board-President: John Vidovich, VP: Terry Chicca, Secretary: Jeof Wyrick, Julien Parsons, Craig Andrew