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Chowchilla Water District, February 8, 2023



By Joel Hastings

The board of directors of the Chowchilla Water District held its regular monthly meeting on February 8, 2023, at the district offices in Chowchilla. The meeting began at the scheduled 1:30 p.m. start time as President Kole Upton called things to order and invited public comment.Conterra

General Resource Manager Doug Welch gave updates on GSA activities. He reported Davids Engineering is preparing the annual report for the Chowchilla Subbasin GSP and that well measurements had been uploaded to the SGMA portal. He also said a meeting of the Chowchilla Subbasin GSA advisory committee is set for March 15 at 10 a.m.

The Meeting

Reconvening as the CWD board, the group approved the treasurer’s report and payment of bills. Treasurer Lela Beatty reported month of January receipts of $2,583,437.97 and total disbursements of $776,013.15 for an ending balance on February 1 of $20,291,416.96. The warrant of invoices approved for January 12 through February 8 amounted to $1,220,076.63. The minutes of the January 11 meeting were also approved.

Of particular interest was General Manager Brandon Tomlinson’s report with water updates. He began with statistics on the two reservoirs that provide water for the District. Eastman Lake behind Buchanan Dam on December 31, 2022, had 22,151 A/F (acre feet) in storage and one month later had  103,659 A/F. Since January, 9,200 A/F have been used. Millerton Lake behind Friant Dam had 323,142 A/F at the end of the year with 369,155 A/F on January 31 this year. He said 14,500 A/F have been used since January 1, with 8,700 A/F labeled flood flows and 5,800 as RWA.

He said the current water year allocation (2022) is now at 50 percent Class 1, up from 35 percent the day before the meeting. He said the RWA and Uncontrolled Season both end at midnight on February 9, 2023.

On February 10, a letter to district water users over Tomlinson’s signature was sent electronically confirming this shut down of two or three weeks “to address much needed repairs.”  The letter continued that CWD will likely begin charging the system the first week of March. The letter said that during the past month about 23,000 A/F had been brought in with very little leaving the District. It said that over the next few weeks the District would continue to assess its water supply and set the rates for next season.

In his report at the meeting, Tomlinson said unreleased restoration flows for Block 1 Tier 1 total 157,000 A/F. The CWD allocation of 11.42 percent or 17,929 must be used by May 28, 2023. The Block 2 Tier 1 the total is approximately 75,000 A/F and the CWD allocation of 11.42 percent is 8,565 A/F to be used by that same deadline.

He said the estimated declaration for Water Year 2023 (October 2022 to September 2023) would be 100 percent Class 1 and 20 percent Class 2.

He went on to provide statistics for precipitation for the 2023 water year, with the Sacramento Valley at 132 percent of normal for this week, Central Sierra at 163 percent and Tulare Lake region 165 percent. Snow accumulations are also strong with the Northern Sierra at 170 percent of normal for this week and 113 percent of normal for April 1. Central Sierra is 207 percent and 138 percent, while Southern Sierra is 241 percent and 160 percent.

Within the District, deliveries have amounted to 1,205 A/F for its seven recharge basins with the largest, Accornero, at 378 A/F compared with 100 A/F at the same time last year This is interesting because the District used its new drill rig to install 50 dry wells in the southern basin. Water sold to District growers totals 5,933 A/F.

Tomlinson also reported on maintenance activities which included repairing wash-ins, clearing debris from various structures, repairing canal breaks and emergency pipeline repairs along with training for new ditch tenders. He also provided detail on maintenance and repairs on the District fleet of trucks and equipment.

With no further discussion, the board went into closed session to discuss a real estate negotiation and matters of current and anticipated litigation before adjourning at 3:42 p.m.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by

Chowchilla Water District – PO Box 905 – 327 So. Chowchilla Ave., Chowchilla, CA 93610   559/665-3747 website

Staff: General Manager – Brandon Tomlinson; General Resource Manager – Douglas Welch; Lola Beatty, Treasurer.

Board: Kole Upton – President, Roger Schuh – Vice President, Mike Mandala, Russell Harris, and Vince Taylor

PROFILE: Formed in 1949, the Chowchilla Water District serves about 85,000 acres situated in southern Merced County and northern Madera County on the eastside of the San Joaquin Valley. The District serves about 85,000 acres in southern Merced and northern Madera Counties. It’s over 400 water users have an average farm size of about 162 acres. Buchanan Dam was constructed in 1975 and is operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The maximum capacity of the dam is 150,000 acre-feet and has a maximum conservation capacity of 140,000 acre-feet. The District also has appropriative water rights issued by the State Water Resources Control Board to divert water from the Chowchilla River. The Madera Canal supplies water from Friant Dam to the Chowchilla Water District. The District has contracted with the Bureau of Reclamation for 55,000 acre-feet of Class 1 Water and 160,000 acre-feet of Class 2 Water. With Madera ID, the District owns the Madera-Chowchilla Water & Power Authority which operates the Madera Canal and four hydroelectric power plants located on the Madera Canal.


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