The board of directors of the Consolidated Irrigation District met at its Selma headquarters on Wednesday, August 10, 2022. It’s been a while since I’ve attended a CID meeting. It was good to see folks I haven’t seen and I forgot the thrill of realizing it’s not an earthquake I’m feeling when I hear the passing train horn.
The CID meeting was scheduled to start at 1:00pm or after the Central Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency ends. I got there and the GSA meeting was still going on. And the topic was securing well permits under Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order over drought emergency. There was a grower in the Tulare County portion of CKGSA having a time of it getting a permit through that county. Tulare wants the GSA to sign off on the permit before it will issue the permit. If I understand correctly Tulare County won’t accept the CKGSA signoff and this will force a hydrological/engineering report but the county isn’t ready to accept that either. This isn’t the first case of Tulare County personnel sending mixed messages. It needs to get its act together there in Visalia.
The SGMA Meeting
The CKGSA board will be contacting the Tulare County Board of Supervisors and let them know their staff is harming one of the CKGSA growers over this well permitting issue. Good for them. If this isn’t bad enough there is a bill winding its way through the state legislature that will codify this massive increase in well permitting red tape that can cause orchards and livelihoods to die. It’s called AB 2201. Unfortunately I missed what was sure to have been a brilliant dissertation of AB 2201 and why it either needs to be killed or simply amended to make it feasible.
Another topic brought up was one of the five cities within CID’s area that formed the South Kings GSA may want to bail and join CKGSA. As it turns out if one city is able to recharge all the cities receive credit and if there is a problem they all suffer the consequences. One of the gentleman speaking at the meeting said it appeared foolish for these cities to form a GSA that has no surface supplies. Had the cities stayed in the CKGSA they would have saved all the startup and associated costs and had a more cooperative agreement with CID. It appears Kingsburg maybe interested in jumping ship and joining CKGSA.
General Manager Phil Desatoff reported the revised Groundwater Sustainability Plan was submitted to DWR on deadline. Attorney Lauren Layne said there is a comment period open until September. And DWR has an unlimited time to determine is the revised GSP is acceptable.
The ID Meeting
At 1:45pm Chairman Earl Hudson got things up and running. The agenda stayed the same, there were no conflicts of interest but there was a public comment. A gentleman said he was having some problems with his access to ditch water. He wants to flood irrigate his field and asked for policy waver for the easements he has to secure from the other private lateral owners. Desatoff said without an easement if someone else on the private lateral tries to cut him off there is nothing the district can do. The gentleman said his point is he wants the district to work this out. Layne thought there might be a written agreement and that would be helpful. She said the district needs protection. Desatoff said in history when folks along these private laterals have a dispute the district gets drug into it. This also involves possible prescriptive water rights law and existing or non-existing maintenance agreements. The board agreed to place this matter on next month’s agenda. Can’t ask for more than that.
The consent calendar almost passed but Director Tom Chandler spotted a problem with the minutes and that question was resolved. With that the consent calendar was passed and that included the bills.
Desatoff reported on water and there wasn’t much to say. Hudson observed the SGMA report would be redundant at this point so the meeting moved on to the land acquisition item. Desatoff said things are moving forward to get more land for recharge. However, he recommends considering the time lag for receiving grant money be accounted for.
The board then took action that the McCutcheon Property on Nebraska Avenue is exempt from CEQA. The board then passed a resolution to buy the land.
Layne gave a presentation on a new piece of legislation. Public entities can charge more for water theft. A bill was passed that allows an agency to add fines for theft. But the bill was aimed at urban theft so SB 427 was passed to include ag districts. There have been water thefts in CID but Director Ray Moles said what could be interpreted as theft might be a borrowing from a neighbor. He said he doesn’t think the police or sheriffs will be able to determine the circumstance. Director Tony Lewis said he doesn’t want the district to be viewed as a policing agency.
Water Master Walt Frost said there have been cases where the valves have had to be chained and locked. Layne and Desatoff said the current policy could be a rewritten to include this fine provision after warnings have been issued and the board will have the last say before the situation is taken to the next level. The board asked Layne to draft up possible change to policy for review.
Moles reported he’s been thanked for having a water run this year. Hudson said the same thing. Usually the board doesn’t hear from growers about these things. The meeting then went into closed session at 2:32pm and that was that for now. Go be good to each other and yourselves.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2022 by Don A. Wright
CONSOLIDATED IRRIGATION DISTRICT – 2255 Chandler St, Selma, CA 93662 Telephone; 559/896-1660
CID covers 145,000 acres mostly in South Central Fresno County. Surface water supplies: Kings River CID is its own GSA
General Manager – Phil Desatoff, Attorney – Doug Jensen, Water Master – Walt Frost, Controller – Tonya Ruiz
Board of Directors – President Earl Hudson, Tom Chandler, Tony Lewis, Ray Moles, Mitch Ritchie