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Fresno Irrigation District April 17, 2018

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The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. Fresno ID’s headquarters is one of the nicest in the Valley. The architecture is clean with dashes of deconstruction. It achieves the difficult feat of imparting a sense of coolness during the Valley’s hot summers and falls and a sense of warmth during the Valley’s cold, grey winters and often chilly springs. My computer wouldn’t start up properly when I arrived and by the time Word loaded the audit report had set sail and was bounding across the mane. But it gave me a chance to write this first paragraph, so enough sentences would form to give my beloved drop cap a balanced look. I am a dangerous, amateur typographer.

Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting promptly at 4:00 pm. He starts like he means it and runs a pretty good meeting. We saluted our national flag as a symbol of unity, there were no public comments and a couple of items were pulled from the consent calendar just for clarification and the consent calendar was passed. Brian Henderson, CPA gave thumbs up to the audit and process itself. While Henderson didn’t bog down too far or drift as some accounts are want when addressing the public, he did go a little long. My favorite audit report was in Bakersfield earlier this month and lasted five minutes. I’m not kidding, it was beautiful. Henderson’s 10-minutes or so did beat the worst presentation by more than a half hour. That 45-minute slice hell took place years ago in the north Valley and was augmented by a CPA whose grasp of English wasn’t so good. FID Controller DeAnn Hailey gave her report and the board approved the whole shebang including policy updates and bill paying.

General Manager Gary Serrato told the board FID needs some working capital for the Central Basin Project. He said the district keeps a six-month buffer in the general fund and he said he’s loath to tap the general fund. The CBP is estimated at $6 million and

there is a grant of $4 million. That money won’t be awarded until after it’s spent. Serrato and Hailey asked permission to take out a warrant from Wells Fargo Bank and the Director Greg Beberian made a motion to do so provided certain other financial obligations the district faces will indeed expire this year. If I understood correctly.

Water Master Jim Irwin gave his report saying the Kings River Water District took some water it was entitled to. That was the only diversion on the Kings River lately. FID still has 151,000 a/f in Pine Flat Lake storage. There could be a storm come through tonight. By next week it could be almost 90 degrees. So there is always either above average temperatures or rain during the Clovis Rodeo. Last weekend in April. Despite what you hear from Salinas, Clovis Rodeo, the finest rodeo in the state. Irwin said the good news is there may not be any need for early pumping of groundwater assets. Serrato had attended a Kings River Water Association meeting this morning. He said as of today Pine Flat storage was more than 800,000 a/f. There is the possibility of a flood release. Inflow went from 4,000 cfs to more than 20,000 cfs in two or three days. The watershed is saturated and the snow is melting. Serrato said Kings River Water Master Steve Haugen is expecting a flood release by the middle of next week but almost certainly by mid-May. If I understood correctly. Consolidated ID wants to wait to make a run and Alta ID is ready to start soon. He asked the board permission to negotiate a banking agreement with Consolidated ID for up to 30,000 a/f. The way flows on the Kings River a calculated FID gets more water if it stays cold longer and the run off is delayed later in the season. That doesn’t look like it under the current circumstances. The early melt and late warm storms can impact its storage. If other districts were to divert more water the flood space at Pine Flat would be increased allowing FID to keep its share of storage longer.

Beberian was concerned with the terms of the agreement and didn’t want to vote until seeing said terms. FID and CID have done this type of deal in the past. Serrato said CID has been aware of FID’s willingness to set this up for a year but has yet to respond. Now under the current run off projections FID can offer a two for one deal to bank in CID. Director George Porter moved to bank to 30,000 a/f with CID and receive 15,000 a/f within three years. This only applies during this season. Beberian was also concerned this was properly placed on the agenda but attorney Jeff Boswell said in his legal opinion the agenda was worded broadly enough to hold up. Director Chris Woolf said he sees the district in a hard place and this is a better deal than losing that water to flood flows. The motion passed four to one.

The next sticky issue was how much to offer water to the annexed areas but the board was very happy with $75 per a/f and approved the sale. There was also an opportunity for FID to sell up to 10,000 a/f to the Kern Tulare WD at $500 per a/f. This was also approved.

Chief Engineer Lawrence Kimura reported there are six developer projects in the works and nine more under review. He said working agreements with High Speed Rail has been challenging. So has Santa Fe and Union Pacific. There are two landowner projects taking place and one on the books for review. Kimura reported on other amazing things like the farmer who ripped up a bunch of pipe and had it replace.

Special Projects Chief Adam Claes reported on clearing brush along canals. On the northwest side of the district, many years ago, somebody dug a post hole that went into the district’s cement pipe. There was a photo of a wooden post sticking out of a pipe. It had been that way for many years and evidently the wood had swollen enough to plug the pipe. Homeless encampments on a few of FID’s canals that run through the City of Fresno have become a major headache. As water begins running the folks living in the culverts surface and camp along the banks. The district is coordinating with the Fresno Police Department and expending a great deal of effort to remedy this situation. The Southwest Banking facility is ready to receive water I believe and has intertied with canals in James ID. Jacobsen said he had to take time to praise the crews for keeping the district’s banks clean of weeds. He said they are way ahead of the game. Claes thanked the board for approving the two new dump trucks now in operation.

The equipment committee met last month. FID uses a big 12” wood chipper and it has died. Staff recommended getting a new 15” chipper and the equipment committee agreed and asked for bids. There are two major chipper manufacturers, and both have a dealership hear in Fresno. More-bark was determined to be the superior chipper over Vermer. It has 130 hp diesel engine and a directional exhaust that allows you to point where you blow the chips. It also has a deal where the operator wears wrist and ankle bands. If these bands break the plane of the feeder chute the machine automatically shuts down immediately. The asking price is $75,000 but you got to have what you got to have and the board went for it. I wish they’d let me use it on the weekends. Probably only need it one weekend a year. Maybe two at the most depending on who I can get to help me out at the house.

Assistant Manager Bill Stretch gave his report and said the negotiations of the seven GSAs in the Kings River Sub Basin is making progress. Serrato said half his time is spent on SGMA. Not only does he have to deal with the North Kings GSA but also the deals with the seven sisters coordinating. He said beginning in January the NKGSA will reimburse FID for his time. How to divide the overdraft in the sub basin is the main topic at this time. Stretch said DWR will be hosting a SGMA workshop in Clovis next week. Stretch next reported on the recent Friant Water Authority Annual Meeting and dinner in Fresno. He said FWA’s CEO Jason Phillips spoke about how much threat the lack of surface deliveries are to San Joaquin Valley agriculture. Another topic discussed was the subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal and how that has reduced capacity south of Porterville by half. The November Water Bond was also discussed with Dr. Gerry Meral at the meeting to answer questions. The City of Fresno wants trails along the FID canals. The word here is the city isn’t ready to relieve FID of liability but things are coming together slowly. Stretch said the district and the city agree on the big picture and he expects things to move forward soon. A few meetings ago Beberian asked who actually owns Pine Flat Dam and Reservoir. The answer is Uncle Sam. It would be difficult to say just which agency but the Army Corps of Engineers operates it and that won’t change. Pine Flat is primarily a flood control facility and that part is federal. Water supplies are 35 percent of the cost and that was born by KRWA. That part is paid off. Kimura said to read Cadillac Dessert by Mark Risener. The district released a press advisory about its delivery season. It didn’t get the bang staff had hoped but one of the local television news reporters referred to Bill as FID Assistant Manager Bill Stretcher.

Serrato gave his report and said there will be a public forum at Fresno State on Temperance Flat. Tommy Esqueda, formerly of City of Fresno has moved to Fresno State and is now Associate Vice President of Water and Sustainability at the WET Institute. Good for him and good for FSU. Stretch lectures engineering students there once in a while. Serrato said he’s also speaking with City of Clovis on a conveyance agreement if I understood correctly.

Under legislation Serrato reported on AB 2649. This would be a companion to SGMA. SGMA says part of its purpose is to promote recharge. However, the state has yet to recognize recharge is a beneficial use of water. He said that is not a popular stand in Northern California and Southern California because they want to the water to move around and not soak into the ground. Well, one idea is AB 2649 would at least recognize recharge is beneficial in at least the San Joaquin Valley. ACWA, KRWA and the Ag Valley Water Coalition have taken watch positions. Serrato said there will be changes but that shouldn’t prevent a support position. Millions of dollars will have to be spent on recharge to survive SGMA. The board agreed to support the bill pending the appropriate changes that sit well with staff.

Stretch reported on the November Water Bond. FWA has asked FID to submit a letter of support. This was the water bond formerly known as the Meral Bond and has funds for Friant Kern Canal repairs. Perhaps if they followed Prince’s lead and called it some unknown, unpronounceable rune. Anyway, the board agreed to sing the letter of support. Also, the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority JPA asked FID for another $10,000 to help them keep going. Director Jerry Prieto asked about giving $15,000 but ultimately $10,000 struck the board as the wisest course.

Directors’ reports were next. Woolf said Barbara Bush’s death has been in the news as has Fresno State for baseball. In 1947 George HW Bush was on the Yale baseball team that was also in the news at that time for playing ball.

The meeting then went into closed session for three items.

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 2018 by Don A. Wright   No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW.

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


Gary Serrato – General Manager
Bill Stretch – Assistant General Manager
DeAnn Hailey – Controller
Laurence Kimura – Engineer

Jeff Boswell – Attorney