The Tri County Water Authority held its Thursday, September 2, 2021, board of directors meeting on Zoom and at its Corcoran headquarters. Chairman Cory VanderHam called the meeting to order at 1:00pm. Executive Director Deanna Jackson called the roll and Carlo Wilcox was sworn in as the newest director. I missed public comment, there was no potential conflicts of interest and the consent calendar was approved.
A resolution was proposed by TCWA to recognize with deep appreciation the distinguished service by Steven Jackson. Jackson has a new job and will no longer be a director/representative on TCWA. The board passed the resolution. I know Steve and he’s a good guy. I appreciate him too.
The next resolution was a kind of housekeeping exercise to get additional equipment covered under the Authority’s ACWA JPIA insurance. The board was happy to pass that one since one of the pieces of equipment was a truck.
David Armanasco of California Strategies introduced the lovely and brilliant Claire Van Zuiden, one of his partners at Cal Strat. Van Zuiden is head of the grant writing branch of the CS* consulting firm. She said she’ll keep an eye on grant money that may come available that would be a fit for TCWA. The firm and the Authority have already done the how much money dance and from now to November 1st the Authority will pay $10,000 plus expenses for CS to keep track of grants and other funding opportunities. The board agreed to the terms and now they can kiss after holding hands.
Jackson said the board needs to set a public hearing for collecting delinquent fees, assessments or charges and to notify landowners of the hearing. Attorney Jason Howard, McCormick Barstow Fresno, told the board a public hearing is needed and those with delinquent charges must be notified by certified mail so they can come and plead their case. The Authority already has a policy so that’s not up for grabs. Several notices have been made and as much as the board doesn’t want to charge late fees it does want the bills paid and has to have a level playing field.
Geosyntec’s Amir Hussain explained the Authority should respond to comments DWR received regarding TCWA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan. He said the plan isn’t to respond line by line to the comments but to be sure DWR knows most of the comments are based on out of date information before the state reviews the GSP. There were two letters. One from neighboring districts Lower Tule River and Pixley IDs and El Rico GSA. Jackson said DWR suggests responding to these comments. She asked the board to approve the comments pending legal review. Director Mark Grewal said he’s been speaking with some of the neighbors and sounded optimistic. The board approved.
Armanasco told the board CS has been able to get through to Wade Crowfoot and his departments. He said besides the drought being a big deal there is also the recall and many other shiny things occupying Sac of tomatoes.
Hussain said there is a deal of money in AB 252 for land repurposing money. This won’t be happy/happy joy/joy for everyone but there is a significant amount of fallowed land in TCWA that could benefit. Hussain said the advisory committee is keeping an eye on this and the bill is still going through the sausage grinder. Some of the land may be eligible for this funding and other lands may not but Hussain liked the idea of having the advisory committee look it over.
Next Hussain reported on the Tule Subbasin saying folks from DWR and the State Board would like amendments to the GSPs to be strike outs with new language inserted. Hussain said this is going to be difficult as there are so many members. When this was pointed out to DWR he was told they need to know what the changes are in a relatively easy manner. Fair enough. But as Hussain said there needs to be recognition of the progress being made on issues like subsidence. DWR is laboring under a January 1st deadline to provide comments. The subbasins have 180 days to address the comments.
Hussain said there was another discussion about DWR dividing grant money between the 22 subbasins in California. On behalf of DWR it’s difficult to take tax money away from people, spend a chunk of it and then dangle it back in front of them in the form of a competitive grant and somehow make everyone happy.
The magnetic helicopter survey that reveals underground secrets is pending for the Tri County area and Hussain said it’s slated for October; he’ll keep the board in the loop. Four Creeks Engineering is conducting the water monitoring survey and this will play into either the pro or con basin-wide water trading policy by different GSAs. There may also be federal funding of meter installation through the Bureau of Reclamation if I understood correctly. There is also a water marketing grant out there. Geosyntec also consults with the McMullen Area GSA and there is a water marketing plan shaping up there. He said that might be a model to shop through the Tulare Lake Subbasin with better odds of support.
The State Board has made some comments on the Tulare Lake Subbasin GSP, one of the few comments made by that agency. You can see the comments online at the DWR SGMA portal and it sounded like they weren’t flattering. Jackson said there is the opportunity to inform them of the issues commented upon. We’ll all know more come January when DWR releases reviews of the GSPs.
That was about that for this meeting and the Zoom shut down at 2:18pm. Go be good to each other.
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*Good thing we don’t live in Balifornia.
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TRI-COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY
944 Whitely Ave. Ste. E, Corcoran, CA 93212 Phone: 559/762-7240 DWR# 5-022.12
Tri-County Water Authority is a collaboration of Public Agencies, Water Suppliers, Communities, Cities, County, Environmental Groups, Government Representatives, and a variety of other interested parties. The goal is to identify and implement water management solutions on a regional scale that increase regional self-reliance, reduce conflict, and manage water to concurrently achieve social, environmental, and economic objectives.
Directors & Staff: Cory VanderHam – Chairman, Mark Grewal – Vice Chair, Steve Jackson, Wade Magden. Deanna Jackson – Executive Director, Amer Hussain – consulting engineer.