The Kings River Water Association held its Tuesday, November 16, 2021 Executive Committee meeting at its Fresno headquarters and online with something called Ring Central. The KRWA has a unique website, at least it was this morning. The site came up a blank, white page. Now, if I was heavily invested in CRT I’d have to ask, “Why white?” But I’m not so I have to ask, “Why blank?” Which brings to mind a quote I’ve long admired but can’t attribute, “If a messy desktop is the sign of a messy mind, what is the sign of an empty desktop?”
KRWA is a group of Kings River water right holders who have come together to share the river’s flows. They have a relatively complicated hierarchy of data points regarding inflow and releases from Pine Flat Dam to determine who gets how much and when. I suspect whoever laid the framework for this agreement had a messy desk. These agreements are written down and compiled in what is known as “The Blue Book.” The agreements have held pretty well over the decades even with the internal scuffles. Now, water interests in Kern County and other places are trying to get a share of the Kings River flood flows. Semitropic Water Storage District has filed a petition with the State Board to take part of the flood flows and move it south. The KRWA members consider the entirety of the Kings River already fully appropriated. The State Board’s Administrative Hearing Office held a three day hearing on the matter months ago. There’s no deadline for the hearing office to comply to and as of last week there had been no wordy yet. I’ve had folks tell me this process could take years to complete. There is another, similar hearing for the Kern River in the works.
The closed session was scheduled to being at 9:00am and the open session to start no earlier than 10:00am. Water Master and General Manager Steve Haugen kicked things off at 10-ish. The minutes were approved and Haugen gave the communications report saying the next board meeting will take place at the Fresno Farm Bureau offices and will be mostly closed sessions.
Haugen gave the water report saying the flows are now in Exhibit C. Inflows to Pine Flat Lake are slowing down. There hasn’t been any precipitation lately and there are freezing temperatures at the higher elevations. He said it’s early in the season but there is a slight uptick of inflows on average and the conditions are closely tracking last year. Scott Sills, GM of Laguna ID asked if the snow pillows are starting to register and the answer is a little bit. One of the pillows measured three inches.
Haugen said two weeks ago there was an online conference and it was said the statewide average will be 75 percent. This type of season can often be dry but punctuated by atmospheric rivers dumping a lot of water in short intervals. DWR is trying to update its forecasting technics by changing the way it determines its projections. There are physical models that are more accurate and that’s an option that might be worthwhile to pursue. The statistical methods are not performing as well as in the past and DWR had a few big misses. KRWA is also a part of the Airborne Snow Observatory that flies over the Sierra Nevada taking ladar measurements that are quite accurate.
The Kings River watershed is taking on weather modeling. Rain making. Rick Stone is the new cloud seeder and has some good San Joaquin Valley experience. He has his own planes and makes his own cloud seeding equipment.
Like all ongoing organizations KRWA has an accumulation of papers to store. Haugen said he’d hoped to present a draft policy today but he’ll have to come back for more.
Randel J. McFarland Reports
The RJM said he had very little to report beyond an update of the Kings River Handbook. He prepared a report on the meetings that were held on this topic. He said 30-years ago the handbook was first published and there are occasional revisions necessary. Also they are about out of copies so a new printing is due. Edits are being prepared and there will be further collaboration with Kings River Conservation District. McFarland said there has also been a good working effort to be sure and consult with the member units. He said this handbook was originally designed to educate media but it has grown beyond that to be a very valuable and popular tool for tours and politicians and others. I suspect McFarland has a messy desk.
Joe Hughes said the extension of agreements between James ID and Tranquillity ID is ready to execute with James already approving and TID expected to do so at its upcoming meeting. The board agreed and that was a short attorney’s report.
The Water Quality Management report was given by Charlotte Gallock and she said the state is looking at shifting its fee structure and improved inter agency communications. There is an effort to push the State Board into the audit process. David Merritt, CEO KRCD said the infrastructure bill is being looked at very closely for opportunities for the Kings River area. He also said the State Board will be hearing the racial equity resolution at its meeting today.
Haugen reported there will be a volunteer river clean up this weekend. Once a month folks like to get out and pick up trash left by other folks who aren’t as kind as considerate.
The committee approved paying its bills. Haugen gave the treasurer’s report and that’s where we learned the general fund has more than $1million bucks. Good for them. So far the Army Corps of Engineers has not billed KRWA. The Corps operates Pine Flat Dam. Haugen said if the ACE continues dawdling there is problem of receiving two bills in one year so they could make an assessment now and hang on to it. There is also a bill from the State Board that will need to be paid.
That was about it for the KRWA meeting at 10:45am.
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KINGS RIVER WATER ASSOCIATION – 4886 E. Jensen Avenue, Fresno, CA 93725 559/237-5567 www.kingsriverwater.org
Water Master – Steve Haugen, Attorney – Joe Hughes