The East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its board of directors on Monday, July 25, 2022 from the Exeter Museum and online with Zoom. Things got rolling right away with Executive Director Michael Hagman taking roll call at 9:00am. There was a quorum and attorney Joe Hughes strongly suggested memorializing the agency’s compliance to the emergency virus orders. The board did so. The agenda was approved and the flag saluted.
The audio was pretty good but it was just a bit difficult to be sure who said what. It sounded like former Fresno Mayor Alan Autrey (that can’t be right) said he’s been working on the Toole water system and thanked Hagman and the Tulare County board of supervisors for their help.
Secretary/Treasurer Kathy Bennett gave the financial report and the board approved. They have a balance sheet of $2 million plus with assets, equity and liability all in line with each other like they should be. There was some discussion on delinquent and assessments due. Hagman said eventually if an assessment isn’t paid a lien can be issued. Bennett pointed out Tulare County is now doing the assessment collection as part of the property tax. If a lien notice is necessary a separate mailing can be conducted. Bennett also said things should improve as the first assessment had the added challenges of incorrect addresses and such that are being cleaned up.
Hagman said there has been millions of dollars in grant funding brought into the Kaweah Subbasin. Sky Temp – the flying magnet that helps map the underground, new monitoring wells and recharge projects have all been paid at least in part by grant funds. There is a $10 million grant for changing the usage of marginal land. Then the board decided to add Logan Robinson Sequoia Riverland Trust as an alternate to the advisory committee.
Next Hagman updated the board on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan. East Kaweah GSA had three issues the Department of Water Resources found wanting back in February. He said both Mid Kaweah and Greater Kaweah GSAs have approved their GSP revisions. Provost & Pritchard’s Matt Klinchuch walked the board through the changes.
Klinchuch explained part of the goal to get the GSP in compliance has been to unify language between the three GSAs in the Kaweah Subbasin. Three other considerations have been lowering groundwater levels, subsidence and interconnected surface water. This has been pretty much the same three issues the DWR* has brought up to most of the GSAs in the San Joaquin Valley. Minimum thresholds have been adjusted and Klinchuch gave other technical information about how the revisions have been written. East Kaweah has an aquifer ranging from the fractured rock granite shelve of the Sierra Nevada Range to its east and alluvial Corcoran clay to its west. There are also domestic well interruptions to deal with. It sounded like bottled water to start and consolidated systems eventually.
Subsidence is focused on the Friant Kern Canal infrastructure as a critical component to surface supplies for the area. And there are roads, bridges, pipelines and other infrastructure to contend with. The East Kaweah GSA is the eastern side of the subbasin and it is also up gradient to most of the subbasin. That means groundwater is mostly flowing west. The more groundwater extraction taking place to the west draws flows in that direction. Both Mid and Greater Kaweah agree this is a point for all to consider. In fact in the Zoom Comment Greater Kaweah’s Executive Director Eric Osterling expressed that GSA’s willingness to work together and that was recognized by an East Kaweah director. Good for them.
SGMA requires data to implement and that fact alone drives much of the research. There are streams in the area that are rain fed therefore seasonal. A wet year yields water and a dry year doesn’t. So the variability impacts data and raises questions; how much of the subsidence is due to pumping and how much from underground flow? How much underground flow does an ephemeral stream supply? It seems that there is no end to the variables of groundwater. That’s a clue as to why measuring climate change using clouds, which are water vapor, can yield so many different results.
Next Hagman walked the board through the resolution adopting the GSP revisions. Klinchuch was asked about the dialogue with DWR on the GSP revisions. He said his biggest concern is staff turnover at DWR and the continuity, or lack of in fallowing up. He felt the revisions are going to be able to overcome DWR objections. Not just East Kaweah, but all of the GSAs feel the revision work on their GSPs will be accepted. There is a good deal of optimism and Klinchuch stated he believes the subbasin is coordinating.
Tien Tran from Community Water Center said CWC appreciates the work being done to build a framework. She hoped more detailed language on performance goals can be included in the future. Hagman said it sounds like she wants more detail of municipal and domestic wells. Local cattle rancher Michele Staples asked for more public information so landowners can be a part of mitigations talks. The board acknowledged the hard work and input from staff and the public. The board passed the resolution.
Director Mike George reported the rules and regulations ad hoc committee has met and progress has been made. Hagman said pretty much the same thing when remarking about the subbasin report update. The meeting went into closed session at 10:30am for one real property negotiation and one case of possible litigation. That was that.
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SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
EAST KAWEAH GSA 315 E. Lindmore Street, Lindsay, CA 93247. Telephone 559/562-2534. Mailing address PO Box 908 Lindsay, CA 93247
Members: County of Tulare, City of Lindsay, Exeter ID, Ivanhoe ID, Lindsay Strathmore ID, Lindmore ID and Stone Corral ID. Chairman Edward Milanesio, Vice Chair Joe Ferrara
Staff: Michael Hagman – Executive Director, Joe Hughes – Attorney
DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin Valley, Sub Basin Kaweah 5-022.11