The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. It was one of those afternoons with the big, fluffy clouds and smell of wet dirt from what might be the last substantial rain of the season. The foothills are still green but the hint of earth tones is starting to creep in. Before one knows it the scenery will change from verdant to tans and golden browns – its own kind of beauty. Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting to order with military precision at exactly 4:00pm. Also before one knows it the entire first page of the agenda was completed including saluting the flag.
FID Controller and voice of reason DeAnn Hailey asked to move four items from her report to next month. So, her report was quick as well. Water Master Jim Irwin wasn’t present and General Manager Bill Stretch asked engineer Adam Claes to give his report but first Stretch introduced Donaday Chapman as FID’s new human resource person. She’s a sharp dresser and I’ll bet September Singh is happier to have the help. Ms. Chapman is from Houston, going against the grain of Californios fleeing the state for Texas.
Claes gave the water report and said the current conditions are just about as good as it gets for FID. A slow melt on the Kings River will yield the district more water in two months than the City of Fresno will receive from the Central Valley Project in a year. The district is delivering water to its growers. Stretch added there are a couple of water colors on the Friant Canal that might be a good move for FID.
Engineer Lawrence Kimura gave his report saying there wasn’t a lot going on with High Speed Rail but for in-house attorney Jeffery Boswell’s on going sparring match over the usual easement and right of way matters. FID itself has eight projects in the hopper. Director George Porter asked Boswell if any track has been laid and Boswell said he hasn’t seen any. No one will see any rail until the subsidence cracks the overhead trestles. Porter also asked if sawdust is used to plug cracks in a pipeline and staff said yes. Porter said any and all growers on any line treated with sawdust need to be informed before it blows out the drip systems. Kimura reported two of the engineers in the department’s staff have left or is leaving for Idaho and Roseville. Kimura said he was looking at Cal Poly but all the good graduating students have two or three offers. I asked, rather rudely in retrospect, what’s the matter with Fresno State? You don’t have to be a registered engineer with a stamp to get started. Stretch said Fresno Met Flood lost a trash can full of engineers to Cal Trans. This is an old story in California – the state pays well, except for DWR for some reason. Nick Zalinivich [sp?] who used to work at US Bureau of Reclamation said he thinks FID is the best place he’s worked. He said the only reason he’s leaving is because he wants to get out of California and while the salary is less the retirement plan is incredible. Best of success to him.
Kimura presented the board a resolution 2019-13 to apply for a grant from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Hazard Mitigation Program for the 60-acre Wagner Recharge Basin Project. I didn’t hear what the hazard was but it appears the engineering firm of Provost & Pritchard got wind of this type of grant and suggested FID go for it.
Assistant Manager Report
Claes gave his Assistant GM report saying FID teamed up with the Fresno County Sheriff to clean up some homeless camps in a county island in Clovis. He said it went very well and he was excited about the new found cooperation with the S.O. Staff applied copper sulfate to canals for weed control. West of Fresno a grower was tearing out some old vineyards and had a shank doing a deep rip tear up pipeline. The pipe was 64 years old and the extent of the damage isn’t known. I won’t mention the landowners by name but they are putting in almonds and being cooperative and the board will be kept updated.
North Kings GSA
Next Claes reported on SGMA matters. FID is part of the North Kings Sustainable Groundwater Agency, a big part. Claes said the Groundwater Sustainability Plan is moving forward with a water budget for the base period, current situation and future years of 2040 and 2070. Jacobsen said when they get the water situation in 2070 figured out let him know. NKGSA is in the best shape of all the GSAs in the Kings Sub Basin. NKGSA loses 40,000 a/f per year in underground flows to the west. If not for that it would be 20,000 a/f in surplus. Each GSA in the sub basin has opted to manage its own impacts so that means it’s on the McMullin Area GSA to do something. Director Greg Beberian said while MAGSA is taking water from the North Kern, the James GSA is taking water from McMullin. He asked how that figures in. Stretch said there is such a dearth of data on this side of the sub basin it’s an inexact science at best. Porter said individual growers in James ID don’t have wells. I know there used to be artesian wells in that area and the water level was so high James was doing the McMullin area a favor in pumping. That was of course many years ago. Stretch said the Madera County GSA found it’s taking – I think – 60,000 a/f per year in underground flows from NKGSA under the San Joaquin River. Sustainable management criteria, SMC, is being reviewed and cost sharing agreements are being worked out amongst the GSA members. Stretch said he and Director/NKGSA Chair Jerry Prieto have been in interviews and the GSA is close to hiring a new executive director so Gary Serrato can finally play some golf. Claes reported the NKGSA outreach committee is mailing 1,700 invitations to landowners who are growers with less than five acres. Not all of them are growers, mostly gardens but they are using their own wells and need to be contacted. All seven of the Kings Sub Basin GSAs are using the same criteria and terminology in their GSPs. Claes said Serrato is reaching out to the neighboring sub basins to help coordinate as much as possible.
General Manager Report
Stretch gave his report saying the Kings River Water Association has reached a budget on its fisheries program. An agreement is being hammered out to share costs on projects between the Kings River Water Conservation District and KRWA. He said there are small, medium and large projects contemplated.
FID is a member of the Friant North Water Authority, one of the groups that broke away from the Friant Water Authority. The FNWA hasn’t been very active for some time. Its members in addition to FID are Madera ID and Chowchilla WD. MID would like to wind it down but it has been kept on life support for quarterly meetings. FID is very concerned about the costs associated with the subsidence repairs on the Friant Kern Canal. Porter said the Friant North – also known as the Northern Alliance – was formed to also develop partnerships on projects. Madera and Chowchilla have additional supplies beyond just the CVP in the form of seasonal rain fed rivers. I suggested FID pump 60,000 a/f of subsurface flows from MID but it didn’t get the laugh I thought it would.
On the FWA report Stretch said the last FWA there was discussion about classifying the Friant Canal repair as extraordinary maintenance. Between the FID contingent and Orange Cover ID bunch that didn’t get what you’d call unanimous support. There is SB 559, a bill for the state to spend $400 million on fixing the FKC. A great deal of the heartburn on this comes from the geographic location of the observer. Those upstream of the kink in the canal see the funding differently than those downstream. Porter said FWA is putting more emphasis on the conveyance and not enough on dealing with the subsidence problem. Stretch also reported the Temperance Flat support JPA has transferred to an MOU group. He also reported Johnny Amaral and Austin Ewell are working with FWA’s Valley Blueprint – an effort to solve the overarching water problem in the San Joaquin Valley. FID’s criticism of the Blueprint is shared by other Kings River contractors, namely changing the use of the Kings River. When he was promoted to GM Stretch was tasked with completing a facilities assessment report. In a way he started that project 20-years ago when he first started working at FID. There is an elderly pipeline system in the district that may be the biggest challenge. Stretch said the most cost effective way to fix this is tear out the pipes and replace them. Liners could work but that is an expensive path and doesn’t prevent root intrusion. All the options are being looked at. There are now compounds that adhere to concrete and could permanently patch old pipes. Stretch reported he gave his first Rotary breakfast talk and Jacobsen warned him to watch out – once the Rotary gets ahold of you its appetite for speakers is insatiable.
Beberian asked about old photos from FID’s history and there are some that could be placed on the website. Stretch asked the board to show up next month in a coat and button up shirt to have photos taken along with upper management. He has an idea of who would be a good photographer. Under governmental reports Stretch said the state is trying to increase water fees again.
The board weighed whether or not to renew a Warren Act contract so the district can use the Friant Kern Canal to convey water. Claes explained the effort is to get a 25-year agreement but for now they’ll bit it off five-years at a time. This requires the board adopt a resolution and it did so. There were no directors reports but Jacobsen said all the directors have to take sexual harassment classes again this year.
The meeting then went into closed session for eight items.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright
Fresno Irrigation District – The Fresno Irrigation District is located at 2907 So. Maple Avenue, Fresno CA 93725 phone 559/233-7161 and meets at 4:00pm on the third Tuesday of the month at district headquarters. FID is part of the Kings River North GSA
Ryan Jacobsen – President, Jerry Prieto – Vice President, Greg Beberian, Christopher Woolf & George Porter
Bill Stretch – General Manager
DeAnn Hailey – Controller
Laurence Kimura – Engineer
Jeff Boswell – Attorney
September Singh – Personnel Director