The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, December 19, 2017. In his usual style – like an Olympian athlete out of the blocks, a cheetah after prey, a bullet from a barrel – Chairman Ryan Jacobsen started the FID meeting at a fast pace and promptly at 4:00 pm. We saluted the flag and moved an item from pre to post closed session. Then he welcomed our old friends Jason Phillips, CEO of Friant Water Authority and COO Doug DeFlitch to address the board. Phillips thanked FID for it renewed cooperation with FWA saying its voice is valued at Friant. He listed some of the challenges Friant contractors are facing. There is much more pressure from the Delta than ever before and Friant is far more engaged. Phillips said the hiring of Jeff Payne in Sacramento has proven invaluable in helping to keep abreast of developments as well as an improved relationship with the US Bureau of Reclamation. He said FWA’s goal was, is and will be getting water to farmers. Temperance Flat Dam is one of the ways to keep this happening. He said there are rumblings about trying to run Millerton Lake for temperature control in the manner Lake Shasta is being operated. Prioritization of options for investing in ways to combat overdraft; including Temp Flat but also another cross Valley canal but it all costs money. He welcomed everyone to attend Friant meetings. Director Jerry Prieto asked what he thought the California Water Commission’s response to Temp Flat’s Prop One presentation. Phillips said Payne was there to weigh in and while he can’t predict everything he also can’t see the CWC not awarding something to Temp Flat. I would agree. I attended the CWC hearing and Temp Flat had a good delivery.
Assistant General Manager Bill Stretch stepped in for Controller DeAnn Hailey in giving the full board the proposed 2018 budget. This had been looked at by the finance committee of Jacobsen, Director Greg Beberian and both Stretch and GM Gary Serrato. Stretch outlined the figures and I didn’t hear much different from the usual. Serrato added the recent successful 218 Election was helpful of course. The board approved and accepted the proposed budget.
Water Master Jim Irwin gave his report. Jacobsen said Irwin had to crawl out of bed to attend but Irwin said he’s much better now but for his voice. He said there is storm predicted tomorrow followed by a hard frost that should keep the citrus guys busy. Storage at Pine Flat is 480,000 a/f with FID’s share at 68,000 a/f. Serrato said this year is shaping up as 2011 based on history and 2011 was a 50 percent year. But January, February and March are the wettest months so all is not yet lost. Engineer Adam Claes was invited to deliver the rest of Irwin’s report which presented the various routings that determine FID’s storage. Claes declined and Irwin jokingly coughed on the computer mouse and since engineer Lawrence Kimura had to follow Irwin the look on his face was priceless. Actually, the mouse was sani-wiped and Kimura gave his report. Unfortunately (editorial opinion) high speed rail is moving along. There are two landowner projects underway and 29 other structure projects requiring permits are in the hopper. The district is working on replacing a section of canal near the Clovis hospital with pipe. A half dozen or so other canal projects from lining to new turnouts are underway. Beberian asked if FID is tied into the Running Horse Basin and it is a flood control project but there are concerns about groundwater in that area. There is a FID Kearny Basin in the area. Stretch said both basins will be used for recharge. That led to a lengthy talk about the district’s banking facilities.
Claes gave the Assistant GM report. I don’t know why because Stretch was sitting right by him. Anyway, he spoke a new high-density polyethylene pipe liner being used on a FID canal. Forty feet lengths of this black, plastic pipe are being inserted in the old, cast in place line. The sections are heat welded together and slipped right in the old pipe. He said it’s easy and quick and saves money. In other news crews are pressure washing dry channel beds to prepare for more accurate monitoring. The southwest banking facility is a joint project with James ID and construction on the diversion that looks like it could withstand a shelling from the USS Missouri. Sixty-inch pipes divert the water to the three basins for recharge.
FID planning another installation, the Wagner Recharge Basin located at Dickenson and Gettysburg Avenues west of Fresno. It’s 60-acres in size. Engineering firm Provost & Pritchard prepared a negative declaration EIR as there will be no significant problems with the project. Caltrans and DWR both commented and both found no problems. It was boiler plate stuff ensuring the berms don’t get above a certain height least they become dams under further state supervision. Semitropic WSD sent a nine-page comment that was addressed. This is unprecedented. Beberian asked if any other district has made similar comments and Serrato couldn’t recall such a thing happening. The board approved the negdec.
Stretch reported on SGMA saying the past two months have been relatively quite as the main activity has been gathering data for the GSP. He said there are new members on the technical committee; growers Jason Pucheu and Jon Reiter are now on the committee and are most welcomed. Serrato added there is an area from the Temperance Canal to Friant Dam wanting to join the North Kings GSA. This is 50,000 a/f of land with no surface water supplies. This is under discussion as is the coordination between the seven GSAs in the Kings Sub Basin. P&P’s Ron Samuelian has been shepherding this effort. Serrato said this is a big task with many disputes. He expects a mediator may have to be used. It will be a test to see how these GSAs arrive at agreements within the SGMA regulations. Having said that Stretch added he believes the January 2019 deadline for a coordination agreement will be met. It is possible the Kings Sub Basin will be in a position to help set the criteria to be accepted by DWR. Serrato, representing the North Kings GSA on the Sub basin coordination announced Prieto is now the head dog of the North Kings GSA – congratulations.
Next Stretch talked about Friant membership. FID left FWA to form the Friant North Authority with amongst others Chowchilla WD, Madera ID and Gravely Ford ID. David Orth was the original GM but he left and things are not happening in a way hoped. Stretch said in the meantime FWA has hired Phillips, DeFlitch and Payne as well as others and has reorganized into a much better representation. FID staff now recommending rejoining FWA. It will cost $100,000 to do so but to continue with Friant North will cost even more. Serrato and Stretch interviewed Phillips and DeFlitch for a few hours to ensure certain differences can be worked out – and they have. Director George Porter said Stretch understated the problem at Friant saying it was in complete disarray. Friant North is looking at some options; whether to continue or downgrade to an alliance or meet semi-annual. Who knows. Beberian asked about FID’s liability on the subsidence of the Friant Kern Canal and Serrato said this was discussed. Normal O&M will be on FID but there are many other avenues of funding for the canal repairs including the Meral Bond. Beberian must have been satisfied because he moved to rejoin and it passed. FID will be back in FWA at the first of the year.
Serrato gave his report saying Bill Swanson made the most professional presentation for Temperance Flat before the CWC. Serrato was there and he said there were a good deal of folks in support. Friends of the River and Sierra Club had some bad things to say but they didn’t have much depth. The Tulare Lake Project had, in Serrato’s opinion a not so good presentation. Kings River Water Association attorney Joe Hughes outlined the problems and the CWC asked where the water right was to allow this. Serrato said there will be another CWC hearing next month and Temp Flat plans on being there. He also spoke with State Board member Dee D’Adamo about the fertilizer tax problem as well as the problem with the Tulare Lake project. There is a join project with the City of Clovis and neither FID or the city have been able to find the time to really get down to business until January. I know Clovis, they are reasonable people. Serrato also said Lisa Cohen who has been with the City of Clovis for more than 30-years will be retiring at the end of this year. Wow. Good for her but she keeps things together and will be hard to replace. Serrato said he’s spoke with Sean Stevenson about working with International WD and that will be taken up with the Bureau. On a personal note he thanked everyone for a great Christmas lunch.
Beberian asked what Semitropic’s pitch was. Serrato said it was focused on public benefits such as freeing up 20,000 a/f for the Delta that was supposed to help salmon valued at $100,000 per fish. It was mentioned that was a low number. Anyway, the Temp Flat folks didn’t find the Tulare Lake folks’ argument persuasive.
Claes started the administrative matters report and there was a claim by a landowner. The board agreed to pay. Attorney Jeff Boswell advised the board to be sure who the claimant actually is as there is an LLC and others involved. Overnight stays at the upcoming Mid Pacific Region Conference will be paid by the district for staff and board members. There were other conferences staff needed to get covered and acknowledgement of the ACWA JPIA President’s Special Recognition award. Also, really cool, FID was awarded the Engineering Excellence Awards Banquet for the Serrato intertie project. I think Stretch, Claes and Kimura will represent the district and have their travel and lodging covered.
Beberian said he attended the recent ACWA conference and there is now an Ag Committee. Jacobsen said the Christmas party at FID was awesome and a great opportunity to recognize the outstanding work staff did during this very wet year. Porter said he’s asked daily if there will be any reclaim water and that will be on the January agenda.
The meeting then went into closed session for eight items.
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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