The Buena Vista Water Storage District’s board of directors met on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at its Buttonwillow headquarters. This isn’t a scientific fact but there appears to be more cotton planted on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley than in years past. Also, folks are just in a better mood now that there is more water and the weather has cooled down. Chairman John Vidovich showed up a bit late and announced Director Jeof Wyrick’s father is in the hospital. Wyrick won’t be here this morning but he’d like to address a couple of items. He requested adjourning the meeting at some point and taking up again around 2:00pm. Attorney Gene McMurtrey said that is possible at the board’s will but it wasn’t received well. The room was full and in any event it didn’t have to be dealt with at the beginning of the meeting anyway. Vidovich called the meeting to order at a little after 8:30pm. There were no public comments, the financial report was accepted and after pulling a few items the consent calendar was passed.
The board talked a bit about holding a growers meeting to go over a strategic planning consultant. This is a trend – not just growers’ meetings – that’s been going on for as long as there have been district. No, the trend is strategic planning. In my grandfather’s time it wasn’t about legal issues and environmental regulations. It was about the administering of water contracts. Now things have progressed to the point where survival requires a different, sharper edge.
Under canal maintenance a couple of growers in the room were asking about the amount of weeds on the canal. General Manager Maurice Etchechury told them there are new weeds, such as duck potato that no one has seen in this area even before the latest drought. He said the late rains and increased construction put the schedule back a bit. Director John Cauzza acknowledged the problem and assured those present the district will catch up. The delivery season has also lasted longer and that means there’s more water present. More water in the ditch makes it difficult to keep up with the weeds. That seemed to settle things.
A lady and her son named I believe Cindy and Austin Banducci were on the agenda to discuss a connection on the BVWSD northern pipeline. The Banduccis were surprised there wasn’t a connection and double surprised when presented with the cost of $10,000. Etchechury said he was kind of surprised by the cost also. Cauzza said this particular situation needs to be thought through further and a committee will take this up.
The next item was Kern River Flood Canal maintenance and it’s not cheap. The California Conservation Corps, convict labor and plain old labor contractor labor will cost $31 per hour per person for the manual labor of clearing out vegetation and such. The cost is being shared with Boswell Farms so the item was deferred for Wyrick’s sake.
The water supply update was discussed and BV share at Lake Isabella stands at 36,200 a/f. BV will also get 18,105 a/f from its share of the State Water Project’s 85 percent allocation. It’s entitlement of Kern River water is more than half a million-acre foot. The district sold 98,000 a/f within Kern County and delivered 54,000 a/f to its growers. The district also exchanged 96,000 a/f of Kern River water for SWP water. And the district banked 238,000 a/f with district and nearby facilities. There was a good deal of talk, more than usual at BV, about the myriad of complex Kern River matters.
Carryover at San Luis Reservoir is up in the air. Etchechury said moving that water out early could be a good way to get the State water banked. There is a real possibility SWP water will spill from SLR this December. Semitropic WSD would like to partner with BV to bank but that must be approved by the Kern Fan Monitoring Committee next month. Vidovich said it’s in BV’s interest to bank as much State Water as possible provided deliveries to growers can be maintained. If BV puts about 10,000 a/f in recharge each month by the end of the year it will have about 4,000 a/f of carryover at SLR.
BV has the Palms Groundwater Recharge project. There are times when I sit in a meeting and I have no idea what is being said. This is one of those times. I don’t know the geography of each district well enough to understand what’s going on at each project. I can tell you the Palms project is one of these instances. There are weirs and other facilities needing repairs and construction and ties between the Kern River, BV, the California Aqueduct and bids, schedules and meters and I give up. If I understand correctly this project will allow banking Kern River water and transfers to the Aqueduct. The question of allowing 3rd parties to bank was moved to closed session. McMurtrey OK’d that under real property negotiations. Finally, poor ol’ Assistant GM Tim Ashlock asked for another $1 million to go to a reserve for further work on the south and west portions of Palms Groundwater. This discussion will be held in open session but not until after closed session.
There is a Buena Vista Groundwater Sustainability Agency and the BVWSD adjourned and reopened as BVGSA. There is the question of a $60,000 cost sharing to hire engineering firm GEI to develop a Hydrologic Conceptional Model for the North of the River Groundwater Management Group for SGMA purposes. Here’s the legal minutia, the BVGSA actually requested BVWSD to pay for it. The board approved. The board also approved sending a letter to the Kern Groundwater Authority GSA on behalf of the BVGSA in response to KGA’s “Legal Issues Analysis Project” being developed. It boils down to two things: Who’s going to get how much groundwater in the Kern sub basin, and lifetime employment for lawyers. The letter will be sent.
A piece of legislation – SB 623 by state Senator William Monning of the Monterey area – blames poor water quality in California on ag and if passed will put a $2.85 per acre fee on farmers or put a tax on fertilizer to raise $20 million per year to fund the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The district will send a letter of protest. The meeting then went into closed session.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 by Don A. Wright No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW.
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: Maurice Etchechury, Engineer: Tim Ashlock, Attorney: Robert Hartsock. Board-President: John Vidovich, VP: Terry Chicca, Secretary: Jeof Wyrick, John Cauzza, Larry Ritchie