Digital Marketing Services

Chowchilla Water District, July 12, 2023



By Joel Hastings

The Chowchilla Water District board of directors met in its regular monthly meeting on July 12th at the District offices in Chowchilla. Calling the meeting to order at 1:31 p.m. with all directors and several visitors present, President Kole Upton asked everyone to introduce himself. Included were Jose Cano of Land & Water Solutions, David Scheidt of Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Geoff Vanden Heuvel of Milk Producers Council and three representatives of Central Valley Community Bank – Cathy Chatoian, Kari Ross-May and Rosie Floriano-Nunes.

GSA Meeting

            With no other public comment and no changes to the agenda, the directors convened as the board of the Chowchilla WD GSA. Doug Welch, Resource Manager who coordinates GSA activities, reported that the third version of the Chowchilla Subbasin GSP had been submitted to the State Water Resources Control Board with two subsequent meetings with staff. While the plan now mirrors that of Merced which has been approved, SWRC staff expressed concern about groundwater levels, interim milestones, measurable objectives and undesirable results. The SWRCB staff referenced the DWR comments but also had their own issues, asking for more explanation and description of how the methodologies were determined.

The strongest objection, though, was the domestic well mitigation program which has a $30,000 cap for replacing an individual system. There are several hundred wells affected or at risk in the subbasin. Director Roger Schuh, who is on the committee, said that they were told that if they were responsible for a well going dry, then it needed to be fixed. Welch said that as a public agency, it seemed unrealistic to provide unlimited funding. But during discussion, it was noted that if deep pumping has caused wells to go dry, the SWRCB believes there is an obligation to mitigate, not accepting an arbitrary cap on costs.

Welch said there is one more meeting with the staff and then another round of revisions will be prepared and brought back to the GSAs for approval before submission. He also had an update from the “white area” grower group in Chowchilla that had agreed to fund projects in the Madera GSA. He said they would only be providing half of the funds originally agreed to, in an apparent effort to negotiate with the county board of supervisors. With the understanding that it would be several months before another revision would be available, the group adjourned the GSA meeting at 1:55 p.m.

CWD Meeting

Treasurer Lela Beatty presented financial reports showing receipts for the month of $2,193.969.59 and disbursements of $788,591.14 resulting in an ending balance on July 1st of $15,937,516.48. The warrant of bills to be paid amounted to $391,475.79 and the budget report as presented was accepted.Technoflo

After a side discussion of how water demand drops off on weekends because farmers don’t want to pay overtime to their workers, minutes of the June regular meeting and the July 3rd special meeting were approved. At that July meeting, the purchase by the end of this year of four service trucks, a dump truck and a boom truck had been approved, all in anticipation of the requirement that the purchase of electric vehicles will be required beginning in 2025.

Here President Upton invited the Central Valley Community Bank representatives to present. The District had opened an account with well mitigation funds with this bank and the pitch was to move more of the CWD accounts here. Ms Chatoian from the FresnoLidco Inc. headquarters introduced her colleagues from the Merced office. She explained that the bank has several water districts among its clientele. Personal service is the hallmark of this firm, said Ms Floriano-Nunes, and there are no charges for routine transactions as there are with the national banks. Upton thanked them noting that his experience with this bank is very satisfactory and he wanted the board to be able to consider it.

In the next new business item, four pieces of old equipment were designated surplus to be sold – a mechanic’s truck, an air compressor, two belly dump trailers and an axle and wheels.

At the past two meetings, a water transfer agreement with the LeGrand Athlone Water District has been considered, allowing CWD to wheel up to 1,950 acre/feet of water coming from Merced ID at a price of $75 per. The board wanted a bit more language added to define how the amounts would be measured, so the draft will be updated and brought back.

GM Report

General Manager Brandon Tomlinson opened his report saying Ash Slough in the eastern side of the District was being dried up as recharge is ending for the water season. He said this channel is normally dry this time of year, and keeping water there would begin to cut into next year’s supply. He also said an additional employee had been hired to work nights, especially to insure that water screens could be kept free of trash and debris, a bigger problem this year with the high water. His written report showed water storage at Eastman and Millerton Lakes, maintenance work completed around the District and equipment repairs.

After some board discussion about a variety of topics including water deliveries, recharge totals, investment policy and bank charges, the meeting adjourned at 2:55 p.m. There was no closed session which had been included in the agenda.

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 2023 by

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

Staff: General Manager – Brandon Tomlinson; General Resource Manager – Douglas Welch; Treasurer – Lela Beatty

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

PROFILE: Formed in 1949, the Chowchilla Water District serves about 85,000 acres situated in southern Merced 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.


Get Our Latest Water News Delivered To Your InBox

Subscribe today to be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

We respect your privacy and value your readership. We will never sell your information to 3rd parties.


California Agricultural Irrigation Association, September 26, 2023

By Don A. Wright The California Agricultural Irrigation Association held...

Kaweah Subbasin Coordination, September 27, 2023

By Don A. Wright The three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies that...

Kern Groundwater Authority GSA September 27, 2023 Don A. Wright The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability...

Greater Kaweah GSA September 26, 2023

By Don A. Wright The Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency...

Madera Irrigation District Board of Directors Special Meeting, September 20, 2023

By Joel Hastings On September 20 at 10:31 a.m., President...