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Cawelo Water District October 12, 2017



The Cawelo Water District held its Thursday, October 12, 2017 meeting at its headquarters north of Bakersfield. I haven’t been here for a while and a lot had changed. Dr. Scott Hamilton is no longer on the board and there is another new director, John Gaugel from Wonderful Orchards. So, I’m starting out this morning confused and disoriented. As if all this wasn’t enough a train caught me in Kingsburg and I was a little late but mostly missed the routine items such as approval of the minutes and payment of the bills. The building remodeling is going very well from what I could see. Staff, management and the board all hang out together in a portable trailer. The new President is Keith Watkins and Mark Smith is the new VP. I understand David Fenn will be stepping down next month so we’ll see what happens then. Treasurer LeeAnn Giles kindly informed me Hamilton is now an independent consultant on the California Water Fix.

Assistant General Manager David Hampton reported on the Irrigated Lands Program. He said the Regional Board wants assessments from parcels along Poso Creek and now also wants assessments from the Lerdo Canal. Hampton said most of the landowners should be OK but there is great Sacramento worry about gates and sumps that could allow water to flow back into the canal. More paperwork as a sediment/erosion control plan is now needed for several landowners. Engineer Richard Schafer reported Sue McConnel of the Regional Board told folks gathered at a recent meeting, the top three issues are: properly destroying abandoned wells, the site of the existing well is properly prepared so there is no chance of surface water getting into the groundwaters and thirdly the application of nitrogen. McConnel also said if someone gets a notice from the Regional Board for not turning in the proper paperwork it will result in a $20,000 fine. Attorney Robert Hartsock pointed out many of the abandoned wells have been converted to monitoring wells for the SGMA requirements.

The next item was SGMA and Hampton said he met with Eric Averett from the Kern Groundwater Authority GSA. Hampton said the meeting revealed every GSA is working on its own GSP, at least for now. The GSPs will

be prepared as chapters for the overall GSP of the Kern River Sub Basin. Cawelo would like to see the KGA continue and hold together. This could be difficult as more data is compared. He’ll be meeting with Terry Erlewine, the new KGA coordinator. KGA is still looking for someone to replace Averett as the overall GSA manager. Averett is the general manager at Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD and they want him back full time. Hartsock said the initial draft of the coordination agreement is acceptable to the Kern River GSA. He thinks that will be enough for the time being. Schafer agreed. He’s working with one sub basin group whose attorneys want an MOU to agree to write a coordination agreement. Schafer argued to just go ahead and write an agreement. One wonders. Hartsock pointed out with Fenn leaving the Cawelo board he is also a representative to the KGA.

Next Hamilton spoke on the CWF. He said representatives from Kern County met with the Governor about the CWF. On Tuesday Met WD voted to stay on board. The Kern County Water Agency will vote this afternoon and it is anticipated KCWA will give provisional support. Schafer asked if it’s still a two tunnel project and Hamilton said at this time it is. Hamilton expects the CWF to move along. Hartsock said there are already 21 lawsuits against the project. It was asked what CWD’s position is and General Manager David Ansolabehere said even though the water will be expensive the district has never had too much water. He doesn’t really support the CWF but he wants to keep a hand in the game so there won’t be a loss of water. Hamilton said the moving pieces of SGMA will also have some big considerations. He continued talking about the X2 flows. It really kicks in during wet years. There wasn’t a problem in September but in October it would cost water. Keeping the X2 line 80 kilometers from the Golden Gate Bridge requires less water than the proposed 72 kilometers. The State Water Project guys were able to negotiate pretty good until the State Fish & Wildlife stepped in. It usually goes along with the federal F&W but now this state agency is trying to flex its muscles.

There was some discussion of why the CWF wasn’t introduced incrementally. Right now Cawelo has bought in for 50 percent and is saving half of a 100 percent buy in. It’s a gamble because this is not only extra water it is extra capacity in the future system. Hamilton said there will be no loss of leverage as CWD could bump up to even more than 100 percent since other districts are opting out. Hamilton said one motivating factor to going forward as is – is to not have to reapply for permits. He said even one tunnel would still be helpful since there probably aren’t too many scenarios where both tunnels would be chugging away at full throttle. Reducing the plan to one tunnel will save 40 percent of the two tunnel construction costs but the costs per acre foot is still not known.

Hartsock had nothing to report in open session. Schafer gave his report and said the first draft of the stream alteration agreement will soon be available. I believe this refers to the Poso Creek diversion program. He said things are winding down like he is. He’s tried to get folks from the State Department of Pull My Finger to leave their cubicles in Sacramento to tour the site but that’s not happening.

Ansolabehere gave his report and said deliveries from the produced water has stabilized. There has been a request to bring 160 acres on the northern portion of the district into the service area. He said there isn’t enough water to fully supply the service area let alone the non-service area. The land is about three miles from the closest tie in so staff is recommending denial. 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.

Cawelo Water District – The Cawelo Water District was formed on February 16, 1965 and encompasses approximately 45,000 acres in the North-Central portion of Kern County, California just north of Bakersfield. The District provides irrigation water for more than 15 different crop types with the majority being almonds, citrus, pistachios, and vineyards.

17207 Industrial Farm Rd., Bakersfield, CA 93308 661-393-6072


Keith Watkins – President, Brian Blackwell, John Gaugel, David Fenn & Mark Smith – Vice President


David Ansolabehere – General Manager
David Hampton – Assistant General Manager
LeeAnn Giles – Controller
Emilie Ortiz – Accounting Clerk
Candice Ramirez – Administrative Assistant

Richard Schafer – Engineer

Robert Hartsock – Attorney

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