The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. It’s been a hot day and the air quality was augmented by a fire near Yosemite and also, I was told, a truck caught fire near hear and stunk things up. Chairman Ryan Jacobsen was his usual punctual self and kicked things off with a flag salute at 4:00 pm. It was announced the meeting will go into closed session at 5:30 whether we want to or not to accommodate a special guest. Director Jerry Prieto pulled item 6i from the consent calendar to find out what was going on with some parcel that had a canal running through it, or did it? Somehow back in the mists of time FID ended up controlling the easements through a large tract of property that might need canals. This property won’t need canals as it is being developed in an urban manner and the overlying landowners are trying to clean up the title. That’s the best I can come up with using my limited layman’s knowledge of real estate law. I can quote FID’s attorney Jeff Boswell who said, “Be glad the district doesn’t have a lot of these.”
Controller Deanne Hailey gave her report and all five of the items listed were either approved or accepted or at the very least listened to politely. Director Greg Beberian brought up an interesting question when he asked if how much FID pays in membership dues to ACWA and the Special District Club or Association or whatever it’s called. Hailey didn’t know off the top of her head but she’ll get back to the board next month. ACWA dues change every year if I understood. Today is Hailey’s 10th anniversary working at FID and she retired a 10-debt today as well.
At this point I noticed chief engineer Lawrence Kimura and Water Master Jim Irwin weren’t here. Irwin was on a much earned vacation so Adam Claes gave his report. He said the run off on the Kings River watershed from summer storms is bumping up FID’s take so very little storage is needed to keep deliveries whole. He said the 100 plus degree weather will extend another 10 days according to most weather prophets. Claes said there is some algae in Pine Flat Lake that could produce toxins. The surface water treatment plants at the Cities of Clovis and Fresno have not found any lowering of water quality. In fact, Clovis said it’s getting extremely good quality. Beberian said while FID has nothing to do with delivering water quality just quantity but it does have a moral obligation and he’d like to make sure the toxin is tested for before the water is delivered. The cities aren’t getting tainted water because the algae and any toxins (none have yet been detected) are on the surface of the lakes while the water being delivered is coming from the bottom of the lake. General Manager Gary Serrato assured Beberian his concerns are FID’s concerns as well.
Back to the ag water report – Claes said there is enough in storage to run deliveries through August. Not a bad year considering how hot things have been. Also, draw down at Pine Flat isn’t expected to drop levels below 200,000 a/f the district won’t be spanked for Temperature Control Pool supplies at Pine Flat. Assistant GM Bill Stretch added there will be water delivered to the cities for the first time in the 13-year history to call on water banked with FID. This will cost roughly $200 per a/f. Stretch said consultants have been advising them to use the banked water for some time.
Stretch gave Kimura’s report saying the engineering department is continuing with the same projects as usual. The Land Use & Irrigation Data Report was issued by the engineering depart. He said this is the first year almonds have become the district’s biggest crop taking over grapes.
Next staff gave an update on High Speed Rail saying there will be a meeting with HSR’s management to work out terms on easements mainly, next week. HSR will impact more than 20 FID facilities with 25 crossings. Boswell said there has been a change in management and contractors at HSR which causes major problems as the institutional knowledge is waning. The contractors working on the southern portion aren’t honoring the agreements already worked out by the contractors working the northern portion of the rail line going through the district. Serrato said at FID’s urging the new HSR Executive Director has been summoned to help straighten out this mess. District up and down the Valley have been told by HSR they have to pay for all manner of things initiated by HSR. Some of them have canals still owned by the USBR. That tends to shut up HSR. But FID has had to struggle with HSR trying to bill them illegally. High Speed Rail isn’t worth the gun powder it would take Wyle E. Coyote to blow it up.
Next Claes gave the O&M report with photos. There was a photo of crews applying copper sulfate to a canal. They dumped bags of bright blue powder into the water. There was a photo of crews applying magnicide. They practically were wearing hazmat suits. Claes said they much rather work with copper sulfate. The homeless camps along FID canals in Fresno have much like the algae at Pine Flat bloomed with the warm weather. The proactive cooperation with Fresno PD has helped keep the problem at a lesser level than in the past.
Before this meeting there was an equipment sub committee meeting. Claes reported on some spray equipment fabricated by FID staff. The booms are wearing out and bent and such. Staff would like to shop out the fabrication this time for three more sets of spray rigs. Three new pickup trucks need to be purchased. A utility truck also needs replacement. It’s not high mileage but it has had a tough life. Two flat bed trailers to carry backhoes are starting fall apart. The district needs new ones. There were many other items on the wish list. Will Santa come? The money appears to be in the budget. After questions from the board it was revealed there really isn’t a good spray boom system available in the market place. Most districts DIY it with spray equipment. The board agreed to buy the new equipment and that made staff happy.
Stretch reported one of the biggest discussions going on at the North Kings GSA is Serrato stepping down as Executive Officer at the end of this year. The GSA is searching for a new XO. The tech committee is still working on the GSP and some small boundary modifications were made to keep the fractured rock out of the GSA. More outreach to disadvantaged communities and SDAC, severally disadvantaged communities. Serrato said some of the outreach will require stepping out into the communities. He welcomed everyone to visit Biola and Kerman in August. He will be appearing as a guest on the National Hmong Farmer’s Radio show. No one knew he spoke Hmong. But all the boxes must be checked to fulfill the outreach requirements of SGMA.
Next Stretch said Director George Porter has been representing FID on the Friant Water Authority board. He said FWA has hired a media consultant to help push the Prop 3 water bond. FID has been opposed to funding the Friant Kern Canal subsidence fix by individual districts. The Bureau may have $6 million to help with studies on fixing the mess. He said although Porter abstained on voting for subsidence funding FID wasn’t kicked out. Next Stretch spoke about a document prepared by FWA’s Alex Biering that lays out the impacts on the State Board’s plans to implement 40 percent unimpaired flows through the Delta. This will devastate the districts along the tributaries. Stretch said Biering has developed an important document. As it sits now the Friant supplies come from the Upper San Joaquin River and the State Board has accorded the SJR restoration flows to reintroduce salmon as enough flows to the Delta for now. Stretch said he and Serrato have met with the New Currents consulting firm and should have a strategic plan to present the board soon. He also said he expects to bring the master document about the City of Fresno’s desire to bring trails along FID canals to the next meeting.
Serrato’s GM report was next but the dog gone closed session deadline of 5:30 pm popped up and I had to leave.
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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