The Eastern Tule GSA Stakeholders Committee met on Thursday, April 16, 2020 by teleconference. Since I’d been up for a while and mostly dressed I chose the Zoom meeting option. I have attended an ETGSA since former GM Bryce McAteer left. Now that we can attend remotely it becomes much easier. Eastern Tule GSA has the distinction of being ground zero for the subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal. The meeting began at 2:00pm as advertised. General Manager Rogelio Caudillo took roll call and there was a quorum.There was no public comment and Caudillo said the only announcement was DWR has extended the comment period for GSP. Attorney Aubrey Mauritson told everyone all votes must be by roll call and the minutes were passed.
Next a technical presentation on what will happen to surface deliveries if the FKC subsides more. I believe Friant Water Authority’s Johnny Amaral gave the update on the ad hoc committee meeting of ETGSA and FWA. ETGSA Chairman Eric Borba was in on that meeting. Amaral said the FKC has sunk about 10 feet so far.
Policy Issues were next and there had to be some microphone adjustments. For some reason Borba was difficult to understand and Porterville ID GM Sean Geivet had been on mute but suddenly you could hear him and he had the cinematic voice of god at first. Geivet was drenched in reverb. There were also birds singing in the background. Anyway, the policy issues dealt with transitional pumping. Committee member Steve Etchegaray said the ramp down for pumping will be conducted in five year increments. He said carryover during a rolling five year period was preferred. He asked Mauritson if that would conflict with SGMA. She said she believes this is consistent with SGMA and could be put in place by the board.
Geivet he believed it would be preferable to do a three year allocations starting this year but allow a five year carryover. Engineer David DeGroot said the GSP has representative monitoring sites with measurable objectives – what should happen under average conditions. Minimum thresholds are also set for the six deadly sins of undesirable SGMA impacts. Certainly the impact on the 90, 80, 30 and zero ramp down is supposed to help the FKC. But as DeGroot said should a minimum threshold come into play changes will have to be made immediately.
Geivet said it’s better to allocate on an annual basis. He said the USBR allocates based on what is available and it errs on the side of caution. He said it’s difficult to take the water back. There is also the danger of someone using up all the carryover early and leaving less water for everyone else. It was a bit difficult to plug in the variables. Part of the deal is trying to buy time so some mitigation can become a part of the operations. Allocating precipitation water on a rolling basis may run into trouble if some livestock grazers sell the amount for ET and it doesn’t rain the next year.
There was a good deal of discussion regarding how to structure the accounting of water sources and provide flexibility. Mauritson said there isn’t much of an update on the groundwater banking policy but there should be something next month.
Borba and Caudillo both said there may be an in person meeting next month but that depends on what happens between now and then with the COVID-19 situation. And that was that.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2020 by Don A. Wright
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.
EASTERN TULE GSA DWR # 5-022.13
Directors: Porterville Irrigation District Eric Borba-Chairman, Saucelito Irrigation District Steven Kisling-Vice Chairman, City of Porterville-Cameron Hamilton, Tea Pot Dome ID-Matthew Leider, Tulare County-Mike Ennis, Vandalia Water District-Curt Homes, Kern-Tulare Water District-Dyson Schneider, Terra Bella ID-Edwin “Lorren” Wheaton & White Area-John Corkins
Staff: Rogelio Caudillo – General Manager, Aubrey Mauritson-Attorney.