The Kern County Water Agency met on Thursday, May 24, 2018 at its Bakersfield headquarters. The board meets in closed session before the public portion. That part of the meeting starts at noon and covers more than 20 items. At least there are more than 20 items listed on the agenda. Chairman Ted Page called the public portion to order at about 2:00 pm and attorney Amelia Minaberrigaria said there was no reportable action taken. If anyone on the board apologized for keeping folks waiting I didn’t hear it. Here’s an unsolicited word to the wise – if you want a happier, more receptive membership, don’t leave them sitting twiddling their thumbs for a couple of hours. Consider holding closed session after the public portion. You’re welcome.
Page opened a public hearing on the 2018-2019 Preliminary Budget. Staff gave proof the meeting was properly noticed and the hearing was extended until the next meeting. There were no comments from the directors’ forum. Under Public Comments Mr. Dennis Fox mentioned some tax disadvantages he’s noticed between urban and rural residences. Ms. Barbara Berrigan-Parra from Restore the Delta spoke up and said the timeline for KCWA to sell bonds for the California Water Fix is not realistic. She said her concerns are not just for the Delta. She questioned the push for a federal rider to get around due process and judicial review. She warned the water won’t always be there but the costs will. She said the project is being sold as necessary to keep supplies going. She said the problem with using political force is it won’t make up for lack of rainfall. She extended an invitation to speak with her to all the directors. Robert Kunde, GM Wheeler Ridge Maricopa WSD said the Meral Bond (the November Water Bond) will provide benefits to rural areas beyond what Mr. Fox related earlier.
The minutes were approved and General Manager Curtis Creel gave his report saying the 75th anniversary of Arvin Edison WSD was well attended and a showcase of the innovation of water management in the area. The advisory committee reports were next and there wasn’t anything said.
Director Bruce Hafenfeld is chair of the Administration Committee and all the items dealt with financial matters for the most part. So, KCWA will pay its bills, has a sound investment policy review in place and the financial reports were approved.
Next was the big ticket items. The Policy Committee Chair is Director Martin Milobar. Item B1a was consideration of Policy regarding administration of California Water Fix yield in Kern County. Brent Walthall reported the Delta Conveyance Committee has been formed. Creel reported the policy addressing liability dealing with Article 21 Water attributable in light of the Fix. He said the Article 21 Water policy should include the transferability of Article 21 within Kern County yielded from the Fix. That passed. You may want to look up the motion yourself for a little clearer language. The board also hired Fieldman, Rolapp & Associates Incorporated for professional services for municipal advising.
Cross Valley Confusion
The Water Resources Committee is chaired by Director Royce Fast. Somehow or other an item from the Cross Valley Canal report got mixed in. Attorney Dan Raytis informed the board there were no, repeat no hard copies of item C1a – Update on KCWA procedures for administrating water deliveries or the CVC report item E1b – Update on administrative procedures for the contract among KCWA and various parties for the operation of the CVC extension and intertie. The internet was down therefore no one knew the content of the items. Mark Mulkay, GM Kern Delta WD asked Page if there would be any vote on the CVC Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Page said there would be no vote. It was tense. I must confess I don’t fully understand the issue here. Copies of the agenda items were handed out and both items were informational only. There were folks in the room who usually don’t attend these meetings. Once the new documents were handed out a couple of attorneys left the room together and returned in a bit. I fully realize I’m not giving you insight into the facts of this issue. It has to do with moving Article 21 water and Table A water down the CVC, I can tell that much. But I can tell you people in the room were getting upset before the meeting. When Page said there would be no vote on the CVC a lot of eyebrows were raised. If you know more and want to comment on this report, please do so. But I write with confidence there was something going on that changed the usual timbre in the room.
Dan Bartel, Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD asked Milobar why, since different districts were already working out capacity and conveyance issues on the CVC would the KCWA want to set up policy to regulate something that’s already been worked out. He said this is already provided for in the operations agreement. Milobar said the operations agreement is for those who signed the operations agreement. But there are situations where others weren’t able to get in. Now the KCWA is inviting a collaborative process. Fast said there were mistakes made and he believes this needs to be fixed. Barton said it needs to be open to participants and their assignees. Milobar said as an agency we needed to develop some steps for staff to follow. Attorney Robert Hartsock asked if this policy allows the agency to claim authority to oust a CVC participant. Milobar said this is a procedure not a policy. Minaberrigaria said this meeting was not the place for attorneys to debate whether this is policy or procedure. Mulkay asked when the lawsuits start who will be paying the KCWA’s portion. Hafenfeld asked if there isn’t some way to start over taking into account the advisory committee’s input. Mulkay said there is $35 million of the districts’ money invested and he wants to be sure his board will not be left stranded. Barton said it would not be good to allow the programs agreed to by the district that paid for this to go by the way. It was told to me the board members represent less than 10 percent of the water but have all the votes. Barton said when the KCWA gets in the way of parties working together it pits district against district. Hafenfeld said he might be the least knowledgeable member of the board on CVC matters but he respects the investment the districts have made and would turn to them for leadership on this. Raytis asked if this is just a CVC matter why is it being addressed in Water Resource Committee. I didn’t understand the board’s response to this. Mulkay said the districts will meet anytime, anywhere for further discussions. That pretty much wrapped that up.
Director Phil Cerro chairs the Water Management Committee. This is the part of the meeting where the board looks at hydrographs. David Beard reported everything you need to know about the Kern Water Bank meeting was in his report and the board had no questions.
Director Gene Lundquist chairs the CVC Committee and since that topic had already been whipped pretty hard there wasn’t much left to say.
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Kern County Water Agency
The Kern County Water Agency is the State Water Contract administrators for districts within Kern County.
Board: Division 1 – Ted Page, President, Division 2 – Bruce Hafenfeld, Division 3 – Martin Milobar, Division 4 – Phillip Cerro, Division 5 – Bill Wulff, Division 6 – Royce Fast & Division 7 – Gene Lundquist.
Staff: General Manager is Curtis Creel and in-house counsel is Amelia Minaberrigaria.
3200 Rio Mirada Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308 Office: 661/634-1400 www.kcwa.com
Board packets can be accessed on line at: www.kcwa.com/public username: publicuser password: kcwa1234
Wifi in the boardroom password: h2o!Guest Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.