The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Thursday, August 10, 2023. I literally don’t know how I got there in time but for the Lord clearing traffic for me. I was at my office and looked up and it was 2:30pm with drive across town. And FID is back to the in person only construct. And the snacks are good, they have a decent dinner and all the staff smell like fresh baked cookies.
Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting at 3:00pm sharp. We saluted the flag and the agenda was approved, future meeting approved, no conflicts of interest and somehow public comment was cruised by, no more noticed than a pile of roadside trash.
Director Greg Beberian did have a couple of questions on expenses under the consent calendar. Consultant Austin Ewell changed the name of his business evidently, and Beberian and I were both surprised to find out it costs FID $12,000 a month to hire crews to pick up trash along the canals. That is how much trash the nomads, also known as homeless dump. Really out of line were the legal announcements costing $3,000 in the local daily named after an insect. The board approved the consent calendar.
The always lovely DeAnn Hailey-hyphen-Stork gave the report. I’ve known her for years as just Hailey. She must of got married without telling me. Good for her, she’s an asset as a Controller and I suspect as a partner for some lucky guy. I like how Hailey-Stork gives a report, she can condense paperwork verbally better then just about anyone. Her reports don’t go on and on. The board must like her style as well because they approved her report.
One item of interest; was some parcels now under the control of High on Speed Rail can no longer be taxed. The district had to remove them from the rolls. Another example of how HSR is screwing the taxpayer by taking productive land out of action. That raised the question of whether or not the board is sitting as the board of equalization and why doesn’t the county take care of this. In-house counsel Jeff Boswell will check it out. He pointed out the State of California spent $3,000 to reduce what would have been an annual tax bill of $30 if the HSR had to pay taxes.
Assistant General Manager Adam Claes gave the water report saying Millerton Lake has 461,000 a/f in storage. Friant Class II allocations were 100 percent during uncontrolled season. Now that uncontrolled season is over Class II is 15 percent. Class I remains 100 percent. Claes said Class II is still in play, allocations can change between now and February when carryover ends. Claes said he’d like to get that water into the district before the Friant Kern Canal is shut down from one end to the other this November.
On the Kings River Pine Flat Reservoir has 914,596 a/f still in storage. Flood releases ended July 24th. There is 3,065 cfs begin released and FID gets 1,260 cfs of that which is just about demand so the storage for the district is remaining static at about 114,000 a/f for now. Pine Flat is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers and they adhere to a strict flood operation schedule. At some point FID will have to use it or lose it. There was an ASO flight July 1st showed 900,000 a/f worth of snow still up on the Kings watershed. By July 16th that number had dropped to an estimated 306,000 a/f. A USBR spokes lady said earlier today at the San Luis Delta Mendota meeting there isn’t much snow left in the Sierra Nevada below 10,000 feet and that which remains is clinging to the north slopes in the shade.
Claes said the projected storage at the end of the year is only a bit above 34,000 a/f at Pine Flat come this November. This is lower than one might expect but the diversions on the Kings River are a complicated figure to arrive at. If I understood correctly FID would have had to take 50,000 a/f during March to fully realize its water share this year. So some of the storage was lost by flood flows being charged to FID.
General Manager Bill Stretch said although the board has yet to announce an end of irrigation and other deliveries there are still things to consider. He said the amount of water, the timing for winter maintenance, repairs and construction and other factors have to be decided but not tonight.
Claes showed some photos of earth moving for temporary basins. FID is digging holes to put the extra water in to maximize recharge.
Laurence Kimura gave the engineering report. There are private developer, public agencies, HSR, capital improvement projects and urban trials to deal with. He said a lot of HSR meetings are about right of way and design. Every year HSR imposes a moratorium starting in October for any construction on its right of way. There were some problems on the Herndon Canal with a check structure that needs immediate attention. There are other ongoing projects to wrap up before the weather changes. It’s tough to pour concrete in the rain.
Claes continued with the construction report saying this past winter was so wet for so long it is only now some work is being completed. There is dredging the Enterprise Canal within the Fresno urban area. Beberian said he had a lot of fun swimming in that canal as a kid I think I heard Director Chris Woolf say there’s good crawdad fishing to be had. Stretch said they tried to pipe it but the Fig Garden Home Owners Association protested and so they got their way and it is a pleasant part of the urban landscape. Claes said in other areas there is a lot of trash being dumped along canals in rural parts of the district. Beberian said there has been a pile out by his place that’s been moldering for months. Stretch said the situation has deteriorated all across the Valley and Fresno County just doesn’t have enough resources to pick up after the litter bugs. There is perhaps a need to reduce the costs at dumps. It can get costly to take a load to the landfill.
Special Projects Director Kassy Chauhan said she’s excited to be back after vacation and her first day is a board meeting. But she really is happy because DWR sent the Kings Subbasin a GSP approval letter that was 40-pages long. She wondered how long the letters were sent to the subbasins that didn’t pass. She said the state liked the Kings approach to domestic well mitigation but they want this completed by the 2025 SGMA GSP update. This is estimated to cost $40 million for the King Subbasin. The most impacted areas are the East Kings GSA near Dinuba and my GSA the North Kings GSA, which is also the FID GSA.
Other considerations before 2025 is the interconnected streams data gap. Subsidence and confined aquifer are not big deals in the NKGSA. Water quality due to pumping is, however, still a big deal. Implementing management actions is something DWR wants rolling down the road so any surface supplies can be taken advantage of. Chauhan said the GSA is well aware of the possibility of falling out of grace with the GSP acceptance. She said DWR is placing a great amount of focus on domestic wells.
Beberian said there is a large area of small parcels west of Highway 99 and south of Shaw Avenue. It’s a mix of City and County of Fresno boundaries. There are some residential hook ups but there are wells all over the place. Director George Porter said Self Help Enterprises does have programs to help with this. Chauhan said, if I understood her, the state is loath to accept any responsibility for domestic well-being, one might say. Let us not forget state and federal actions have reduced the surface supplies. The county and city control construction permitting. Farmers are not the ones telling people to drill shallow wells for their homes.
Under regulatory matters Chauhan said nitrate management zones are being formed and there are those who believe (any NGOs come to mind?) the growers should take care of all the problems. She said a good deal of effort is being made by those writing the plan to be sure the proper responsibility is taken.
She said the worst of the state water rights grab bills have been defeated. Jacobsen asked Chauhan to look into AB 399, also known as the avocado water bill as it impacts districts in the San Diego Water Authority.
On the federal side Chauhan reported Congressman Jim Costa has been working on helping getting federal funding for recharge. As a rule the feds tend to provide more funding available to businesses and individuals while the state limits eligibility for grant funding to agencies and nonprofits. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has some grant money for recharge but is pushing to get all the applications in ASAP.
Chauhan said Stretch and Phil Desatoff from Consolidated ID in Selma hosted DWR’s Karla Nemeth and Paul Gosselin to a tour earlier this month to view the Upper Kings Water Resiliency projects. Stretch said Austin Ewell put this together. Congressman Costa was also there. Stretch said it was a good meeting and Nemeth and Gosselin were happy to get the opportunity to take a look at what’s going on outside of Sacramento. There was talk about storage above and below ground. There was talk about a 2024 water bond. Stretch said it was a very good opportunity to convey the message.
FID is a member of the Friant Water Authority and Stretch presented the board with Resolution 2023-15. This is the issue dealing with water quality on the Friant Kern Canal. He said this is the result of four years of negotiations and the member agencies have been asked to sign off on approval of the EIR that brings peace along the canal. FID might introduce Kings River water into the FKC, but the quality of that water is very good, as good as the San Joaquin River. It’s all known as super sweet water. Director Jerry Prieto asked about the impact on FID and it doesn’t sound like it will be costly to the district. Yet the board asked Stretch to draw up an executive summary of the agreement before they vote.
Stretch said he didn’t have anything else to add to his report and there will be a good deal of closed session. Under director reports Woolf said harvest is late but barring any unexpected rain things are coming along well. And it proceeded to rain that very same night. Porter thanked staff for providing locally grown fruit.
Prieto said the City of Fresno is creating anxiety while annexing portions of land along its southeast side. That used to be farmland and development is taking place but there are still many small parcels that are independent. Prieto said the City of Fresno is claiming FID will provide this new water. Kimura said the city is claiming it has sufficient supplies. Beberian has been critical of FID’s arrangements with Fresno. He is concerned the city is taking advantage of the deal impacting 9,500 acres. He asked if this issue can be included as an agenda item. He was concerned the city was moving water outside the agreed area and possibly about the maximum amount of water. Prieto said there is a 800-page EIR dealing with this.
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 2023 by WaterWrights.net/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 North Kings GSA DWR # 5-022.08
Ryan Jacobsen – President, Jerry Prieto – Vice President, Greg Beberian, Christopher Woolf & George Porter
Bill Stretch: General Manager
Adam Claes – Assistant General Manager – Operations
September Singh – Assistant General Manager – Administration
Laurence Kimura – Chief Engineer (you had him nailed down good)
Jeff Boswell – In-house Legal Counsel
David Burrows – Water Master
Michael Prestridge – Superintendent of Construction & Maintenance
DeAnn Hailey-Stork – Controller
Kassy Chauhan – Special Projects Manager/North Kings GSA Executive Officer