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Fresno Irrigation District August 21, 2018

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The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting at 4:00 pm with a flag salute. The consent calendar was good, it can be a great tool in the proper hands as you know if you’ve ever heard two directors argue over saving $.27 on a bushing. So, the first serious presentation was by FID Controller DeAnn Hailey. Bless her heart she’s losing her voice but not her credibility because the board approved her reports. The board also approved a new debt management policy related to warrants and bonds. The board also had to approve: good faith estimates, bond counsel’s engagement letter and a warrant agreement for more than $6 million. Jacobsen said this will help the district move its projects along and he hopes to have it paid back soon. She also reported some construction next door to FID property at Nielson and Marks cut a sewer line. Hailey said the district has a dilemma. There needs to be a new sewer line run to the street. General Manager Gary Serrato said at one time FID owned all the property there and probably tied in to the previous line. The Pancho Villa Motorcycle Club is renting the impacted property and so with a tenant involved they got get things going. It’s located near the waste water treatment plant so the tie-in is deep, more than 20 feet. This will require shoring the trench and not something to be done inhouse. So, the board voted to have Hailey get a low bid and wrap this up.

Attorney Jeff Boswell said Hailey hasn’t been feeling well and wouldn’t mention it but he said he’s dealt with financial matters for years and has never seen anyone do a better job than Hailey.

Watermaster Jim Irwin gave his report saying there is 321,412 a/f of storage at Pine Flat. Almost 79,000 a/f of that is FID’s. Some thunderstorms in the high country during July added a good bucket of water to the mix. Today is the first day of a cooling trend. This summer has had many, many days of 100 plus degrees. The temperatures have dropped to the 90s and will fall into the below normal range through the first part of September. After a hot spell 93 degrees is pleasant. As Jacobsen said warm enough to dry grapes into raisin but still work outdoors without dehydrating. Irwin estimated FID will have 18,700 a/f left at Pine Flat in November and that’s 4,000 a/f over the temperature control pool minimum. Assistant GM Bill Stretch said it is possible to make some additional runs in September. Generally, FID doesn’t like to hold over too much water and will be able to serve the entire district for two extra weeks. The board approved runs for all the district for two weeks in September.

Serrato introduced Thou Door with the Asian Business Center. Door will be translating for Serrato when he speaks to the ABC next month. Another gentleman David Burrow, FID Safety Officer introduced his mother but I didn’t get her name. And for that matter I doubt I spelled Thou Door’s name correctly. My apologies.

Next Serrato said he met with Lower Tule River/Pixley ID’s GM Eric Limas about moving water around with exchanges, transfers and restoration flows. Interesting. Serrato also said the Table Mountain Casino is planning on building an entirely new casino. He said he toured the surface and waste water treatment plants and the tribe has done very well. He said the plants are state of the art. They get some water from Madera ID but needs an addition 250-500 a/f. This will work legally under the Central Valley Project place of use, but it will cost the tribe. The new casino and hotel is a $200 million project. Serrato said it is a small amount of water and doable if the board agrees. The water would physically come from Millerton Lake. The board directed Serrato to pursue this.

     Burrow gave the board an update on the problem of homeless people camping out on its canals in the City of Fresno. Serrato said Burrows has done an excellent job. Burrows reported it took a while to get the coordination with Fresno Police together but things are running smoother now with a homeless task force in place. It costs about $6,000 per day to do clean up and having the coordination with the police has been very helpful. He showed photos where some old boy dug into the canal bank and set up a place to sleep. It looked like it would cave in if a truck drove down the bank. There were pictures of used needles and all manner of junk, some of which is hazardous material. I’m guessing somebody is cooking up some nasty drugs. Burrows said FID staff has been very well trained in standard operating procedures. He said PD won’t arrest the homeless for trespassing but they are the only personnel who actually force the nomads to move on. FID actually gathers personal property and stores it for 90-days. He said only once has anyone made a claim. FID even gives notice it will be cleaning up the encampment by posting signs. Some of the “hot spots” have permanent signs. Burrow said the homeless population is increasing and future considerations will depend on the political will of the cities and counties. The Fresno Rescue Mission and Poverello House provides the crews with information on how to help the homeless get help. PARC Environmental is contracted for needles, biological and hazardous waste. Director Jerry Prieto said he provides fruit and produce to Poverell House weekly and the number of homeless is growing. Burrow said the Fresno Madera area is considered to have one of the larges unsheltered homeless populations in the nation.

FID Engineer Laurence Kimura said he and Boswell are working with High Speed Rail. Boswell said the HSR personnel change so often there is no institutional memory. Agreements are not honored and identical situations are treated differently. Serrato said it is a process of continually educating new people and some then get it, some of the are fired and some of them. . . being a gentleman he left his opinion unsaid. Kimura said there are no landowner initiated projects and that was a short report.

Engineer Adam Claes got the board caught up on maintenance from the past month. Showed some photos of repaired pipelines. A lot of digging in the dirt with jack hammers and such to get through the hard pan. He showed a photo of a homeless camp that was very well developed along Fancher Creek. Too bad for them they caught some big trees on fire and had to go. In addition to the homeless problem there are also many folks who believe it is ok to dump trash in the canals. That’s not only a problem for FID. There was an airplane found submerged in the Delta Mendota Canal once. Staff was happy to receive a limb chipper that will take up to 15” branch. It’s got some special safety features. Staff has been dealing with weeds along the canals with mowing and spraying. Director Greg Beberian asked about spraying around raisins and almonds on the ground. Staff said there are protocols in place. Tim Pritchard from the FID shop was invited by Caterpillar Tractors to its Peoria, Illinois headquarters for special training. The Wagner Pond recharge basin was officially named.

    Claes said the North Kings GSA is working on identifying various management areas; FID could be divided into three sections that fallow the current groundwater monitoring. Claes said Serrato has been attending a lot of outside meetings to help educate other areas like disadvantaged communities. Serrato said he’s hearing loud and clear from the DACs they will be responsible for their own usage but they are worried about the urban areas and agriculture impacting them. He said this is a good sign and the management areas will help. Individual water budgets and safe yields may be the answer for these management areas. Claes said the seven Kings Sub Basin GSAs gather twice a month with Provost & Pritchard to work out the requirements to develop a GSP. Progress is being made and it is hoped this will be revealed to all the home boards. Serrato said he’ll be speaking at the Farm Bureau next month and he expects some pointed questions from other GSAs and hopes his board will be there. One of the State Board’s SGMA wheel hosses and Dane Mathis from DWR were at a coordinating meeting for consultation. They were asked what happens if one GSA in the sub basin is a bad actor. The state can go after an individual GSA without involving others. The question of recharge as beneficial use was bounced around. The state folks were evasive but if I understand the state will accept recharge in the plans. It would be nuts not to do so. Serrato’s leaving the NKGSA at of the year. He was directed to find a replacement. He expects to have a head hunter in place next month to help get the candidates in place and find a new leader.

Stretch spoke about a Business Journal article about SGMA that included FID. Land values are being closely watched. White areas’ land values are half of that of districted lands. FID was singled out as a reliable source of water for the area and land values are higher. The figures quoted in the article were pretty low according to those in the room.

Friant Water Authority’s Executive Officer Jason Phillips spoke with Serrato about Prop Three funds being used for fixing the subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal. There is $750 million earmarked for the canal in the bond. There are some scary figures coming from the South San Joaquin Valley. Safe yields as low as a third of an acre foot in some areas. On a brighter note the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory has its modeling in line of the San Joaquin River watershed. The Kings River watershed is catching up. Stretch said the State Board delayed its decision on taking more flows from the SJR tributaries. Jacobsen (also the GM of the Fresno Farm Bureau) said it will be interesting on how to negotiate agreements with the State Board when the State Board already has its mind made up. Stretch said he though the trails agreement with the City of Fresno has run into radio silence and he and Serrato have been invited to meet with city officials again. He’s also been talking with Tommy Esqueda at Fresno State about water measuring and the challenges of metering certain facilities. Fresno State is a leader in water technology and Stretch hopes to bring a proposal next month or soon. Jacobsen said Esqueda, evidently doesn’t sleep. He said the man loves a challenge. Speaking of challenges SBX7-7 was challenged in court by Glenn Colusa ID concerning over the unfunded mandate requiring metering.

Serrato said his GM report was pretty much covered. So on to administrative items. Claes told the board Rick Karkula has finally decides on a date to retire. Karkula supervises all the heavy equipment at FID. He’s the only supervisor who is involved in almost every operation at the district.

The board passed a resolution honoring Karkula and would like to further honor him at the fall BBQ if Karkula can stay retired that long.

Human Resource Director September Singh said there is a claim on a rock meets windshield. The board ok’d this. The ACWA meeting is happening. Under directors’ reports Christopher Woolf said the district got a homeless camp off the nexus of where his property and a district canal share space. He was happy about that.

The meeting then went into closed session. After closed session, and I have this on very good authority, the FID board did what in my opinion is one of the wisest things it could do – it offered the soon to be vacant position of general manager to Mr. Bill Stretch. I believe this will be a natural transition from Gary Serrato’s time at the helm.  I’ve known Bill for many years and I can vouch he possesses the skills, knowledge, experience, grace and temperament to successfully lead Fresno Irrigation District into the future. Congratulations my friend.

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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