The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, from its Tulare headquarters and on Zoom. The meet was scheduled to start at 9:00am but nothing happened until 9:10am. It turns out the waiting room on Zoom wasn’t alerting the host or whatever. I hate to use the term “whatever” like a petulant teenager (or 30-something) but it does kind of fit in this case since I don’t know whatever it was that prevented me from watching the intro.
Under the water operations portion of the meeting General Manager Aaron Fukuda said the State Board has issued curtailment orders for the Delta and other areas. He said the Friant Water Authority has issued a statement in support of this order because of the illegal pumping taking place in the Delta. Normally no one wants the State Board to overregulate and this is mostly too little too late by the State, but the water supply is so low even ag interests are willing to say enough is enough. Fukuda said Friant has been tenacious in hanging on to the 20 percent allocation and although it doesn’t impact TID’s federal Central Valley Project supplies at this point it does help the partners along the canal and sets precedence.
Superintendent Wayne Fox gave his report saying, like many of the districts during this dry year, there has been extra time for extra maintenance. Fukuda said one of the trucks was having air conditioner problems and instead of taking the vehicle to the shop for a large chunk of change staff was able to fix the problem and did so without tearing the dashboard out. Fox said law requires a “cooling station” for workers and the trucks serve that purpose. TID’s staff is known to improvise. A few years ago they couldn’t find a spray rig that met the district’s needs. So, Fox and crew built its own.
One thing about a dry year is canal maintenance and beautification is easier without all that pesky water getting in the way. Fox said they’ve been able to get out ahead on weed control. Access to gates and turnouts has allowed upgrades and repairs. Even cleaning the solar panels that power the SCADA stations has been checked off. One of the posted photos showed some work on the Batti Ditch and there was a car in the picture. I couldn’t tell what kind for sure but it might have been an old Coup de Ville. I’ve been wanting a Dodge truck but now I want an old Cadillac as well but it needs Batmobile wings.
TID Controller Kathi Artis gave the financial reports and if you and I could split what the district pays out each month we could take the rest of the year off. Dry years have a big impact on everyone’s financial situation. While districts pay less for less water they still have their fixed costs and no supplies to sell. Farmers are generally frugal and that corporate culture is passed on to the districts they inhabit. While this isn’t a scientific formulation I’d venture that special districts serving ag irrigation are the least corrupt and/or confused when it comes to financial matters.
The board listened to Artis’ report and must have liked it just fine as they approved and agreed to pay its bills. Fukuda said the bill from San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority was impacted by less water being moved. There is also the cost of rewinding the very large pumps at the federal Jones Pumping Plant. A good part of the Friant Division’s CVP expenses is SLDMWA operation and maintenance costs. Friant took San Joaquin River water and this water was replaced by water from the Delta Mendota Canal. In return Friant pays into the SLDMWA O&M costs.
Fukuda said two things are impacting the energy bills; PG&E rate increases and the AC unit at the district HQ needs an upgrade if I understood correctly. He and the district’s engineer are looking at how to lower these costs. He said the US Bureau of Reclamation has a solar energy fund available and that might help.
Fukuda reported the Long Range Financial plan being reviewed is shaping up. He listed the team looking into it, including attorney Alex Peltzer and Provost & Pritchard’s Matt Klinchuch. He said it the plan will provide better flexibility than the district is now experiencing. It will require a 218 election.
District Engineer Jeremy Barroll reported ag and urban development proposals are being reviewed. A new ag-shopping facility is being constructed but it’s being built on top of an old, cast-in-place concrete TID pipeline right of way. The district wasn’t notified and the builders were told by Tulare County when it pulled its permit there was no problem. The builders were told by TID to stop and the builders will be held liable for any damages. Fukuda said the old cast-in-place pipes had variable wall thickness. In some places it could be three inches and at others twice that. Pipe technology has come far since then.
Barroll also showed the board a recent well measurement pattern. It gives depth to groundwater measurements throughout the district is very helpful in charting the aquifer and the impacts on the aquifer allowing analysis. While most of the upper and lower aquifers tract similar there is one portion of the district that the upper stays almost static while the lower bounces up and down. There are other stable areas within the district and areas where irrigation drawdown is responsive. Fukuda said the district is looking to drop sensors in monitoring wells and get continual data.
Barroll said there will be a Kaweah Subbasin water marketing strategy workshop on August 11th at 3:00pm. It will be open to the public but virtual. And that was all the time there was for TID this month.
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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 DWR#-5-022.11