The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Thursday, May 13, 2021 and on GoToMeetings. The gathering began with the meeting starting at 3:00pm when Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called things to order. There was a flag salute, followed by a review of the agenda, review of future meeting dates and public presentations. There were no conflicts of interest and the consent calendar was passed.
Controller DeAnn Hailey reported on the financial report saying expenses saying there were consultants brought on a little earlier than expected making the beginning of the year total higher on the projected budget. But she said that will balance out towards later in the year. Some tax collections have come in from Fresno County. The board approved the report and paid its bills. There was also a very slight correction for charges on a piece of property that’s value had dropped and notice from the County came in late. It was less than $10 and passed.
Hailey also said since FID’s Central Valley Project contract has been converted the Bureau can no longer perform audits but it can perform reviews. Hailey has been involved in many of these and the board agreed. General Manager Bill Stretch asked the board to allow charge corrections of such a small amount just be dealt with on the consent calendar and the board agreed.
Assistant General Manager Adam Claes said the DWR’s Bulletin B120 April to May forecast of runoff has dropped 27 percent from the original April 1st estimate. It looked like more than 70,000 a/f of snowmelt runoff just soaked into the soil and DWR said 330,000 a/f is the revised estimate. Claes said the ASO flights indicate 249,000 a/f runoff.
CVP supplies show Friant is down to a 20 percent allocation. South of Delta ag is at five percent and suspended. The same for north of Delta ag with a five percent suspended allocation. These are the things that make folks nervous about calls on the San Joaquin River.
The lowest inflow on record for the Kings River from October to May was in 1976-77 and there’s not much more this year. FID’s entitlements from the Kings River depend on the amount and time of inflow as opposed to a fixed amount. This year also throws a kink in the estimates for later in the year. FID has to contribute part of its storage to the Temperature Control Pool at Pine Flat. Director Jerry Prieto said some friends of his were in the high Sierra and said the snow was thin, the creeks flowing like it was late summer and the reservoirs were very low.
Stretch said staff had hoped to be able to bring the board enough data to determine how long deliveries can last this year. The district can still start its run in June but it’s not sure how long it will last. Director George Porter asked if a big rainstorm where to hit the mountains (which happens now and then) would there be a chance to run longer. Claes said in the past a big May storm yielded enough water for a one time run. There can be some big thunderheads gather over the mountains during the summer. Director Greg Beberian asked staff to convert cfs to a/f on the flow estimates in the board packet. He has said the water going to the Cities of Fresno and Clovis’ surface water treatment plants should flow concurrent to FID’s supplies. He wanted to know how FID can provide water to the cities later in the year and will FID be able to run for two months.
Jacobsen said there are so many variables in determining how long FID can run. Claes said Pine Flat needs another 100,000 a/f for a run to extend through July. He said depending on the weather and such it is still too early to tell.
Beberian asked why there is such a disparity between the ASO and DWR’s estimates based on ground measurements. Claes said ASO is new and the modeling is being improved. DWR is now going to include soil moisture sensors in light of what is happening this year. Porter said someone needs to get the City of Fresno to take as much of its CVP Class I as it can, as soon as it can or it will lose it. Everyone agreed. There were also questions about why the City of Fresno isn’t pumping. I wasn’t sure the implication of this but it didn’t seem like not pumping is for the common good.
Claes spoke about annexed land and come to find out I live in an undeveloped annexed area. I thought I lived in FID proper. The Developed Annexed area pays $10 per acre. The undeveloped Annexed areas pay a smaller fee but aren’t eligible for surface water save Class II supplies. There is 700 a/f of Class I water available for the Developed Annexed area but such a small amount of water must bear the fixed costs. It’s going to be a higher price per acre foot since the fixed costs can’t be spread out as far. During the drought of 2014-2015 FID was able to deliver about 1,200 a/f at a cost ranging from $675 to $1,200 per a/f. In 2011 there was about 1,000 a/f sold at $75 per a/f. Right now the current 700 a/f of Class I available could drop to 250 a/f if there is a call on Friant. The suggested price this year is $1,000 per a/f. The board agreed.
FID usually offers a hardship run for growers in water trouble but they won’t know until next month of there will be enough supplies to make this happen.
FID’s Engineer and resident sharp dresser Lawrence Kimura gave his report saying unless there were more questions he wanted to focus on the recharge ponds. He showed a photo of a bladder that was placed in a pipe for pressure testing. There were no questions from the board.
There was a maintenance report with Claes saying the district’s crew is transitioning from maintenance to water operations. Water will start flowing soon and all the canals will be inspected. There has been a lot of dredging since this has been a dry year. The Gould Canal in particular was able to receive some delayed attention. He reported there is now a water tank on the district’s water truck. That will help keep down dust. There were long crested weirs built inhouse and this will help grower turnouts maintain a constant head pressure. Some canals were also converted to pipes. There is also root intrusion. Roots can get through joints without breaking the pipe. There are ways to deal with this that removes the root.
Beberian reported there is stuff in the Herndon Canal channel he’s never seen before: furniture, mattresses, shopping carts full of clothes. He asked if there is a plan in place to deal with this. Claes said there is more trash – much of it from the homeless – and staff has been augmented with temporary help. Claes said this is probably the worst year for trash. The big stuff is removed and the smaller stuff is caught in the trash racks. Claes said there are about 100 locations where the trash tends to gather. There is one dump truck at FID dedicated to removing the accumulated debris. Beberian said if there is a need for more resources he’s one director willing to listen to a proposal from staff.
FID is part of the North Kings GSA. Cassy Chauhan runs all things SGMA for FID. She said in a perfect world the drought would have waited a few years for the GSAs to prepare. But that’s not this world so she said the GSA is preparing for the next storm event. She expects more funds from both state and federal grants that could help implement GSP projects. She’s keeping an eye on grant opportunities. There has been an average decline in groundwater levels and a contour map with comparisons to last year will soon be ready.
There is more than one member agency in the NKGSA. Each agency is taking responsibility for its share of the overdraft. This is called member mitigation and an agreement is soon expected. The monitoring well network is coming together, slowly but it is moving forward. The goal is to find enough existing wells to avoid having to drill the much more expensive new monitoring wells. Of course with it being dry and a lack of surface deliveries the pumps will be running and monitoring measurements will be difficult to obtain.
Chauhan has been reviewing Fresno County well permit applications for sites within the NKGSA. There have been more than 100 applications since the first of the year. This also gives one an idea of drilling trends by location and depth.
She told the board calls for projects must be included in the GSP to be eligible for certain grant funding. There is an active solicitation of proposed projects taking place with a May 22nd deadline for submissions. Chauhan also reported on outreach efforts. There was a webinar for school districts on how to work with SGMA. Porter said one of his neighbors was approached about monitoring his well and reported he felt it was too intrusive. Chauhan asked for the farmer’s name and contact and will speak with him. Attorney Jeff Boswell suggested preparing a short video showing a well inspection for monitoring to explain what data is being sought. That could take the mystique out of it and create a more willing situation.
Beberian asked about what tools will be used to gain SGMA compliance. He wanted to know how many jurisdictional rule overlaps could take place. For example his property is in FID but also Fresno County. FID would have priority. He asked about property in FID and the City of Fresno. Chauhan said that would be under city jurisdiction. She said implementation of management actions identified in the GSP would be the responsibilities of the GSA member agency where the property resides. Beberian was concerned that only the GSA would be allowed access to meters and data and wanted to be sure this is the fact. Chauhan said NKGSA has the authority to implement projects over the entire area if a member agency isn’t able to get the job done. Beberian made a good point in wanting to limit an entities action that might run counter to the GSA’s overlying authority. Chauhan pointed out the GSA doesn’t have permitting authority.
Chauhan is also head of special projects for FID and reported the old annex building file reorganization is doing well. The scanning has also benefited the office with less paper being shuffled here and there. She said there have been three proposals offered to digitize more of the office operations including electronic signatures.
A Prop 218 election is being planned and there is a lot of internal planning to be ready when the time comes. She also said Rose Strategic Consultants and Austin Ewell have been helpful in keeping up to date on the situation in Sacramento and Washington DC legislative movement.
The area’s Early Action Plan for CV Salts and Nitrates has been preliminarily OK’d by the Regional Board. This is part of the distribution for drinking water to DACs. Well water can be tested under this program and there will be a May 25th kick off webinar.
The funding proposals are firing off like a machine gun. Chauhan said there is possible infrastructure funds for the Big Dry Creek Reservoir that could include a turnout to the Friant Kern Canal. She said every effort is made to get FID’s projects included in the mix. It’s going to be competitive but you can’t win if you don’t play.
AB 339 would require translation services for the public. Common sense somehow took over and special districts are exempt from having to comply with this since there is relatively low public participation. There is a proposed law, AB 252 to convert farmland to something else. There is no funding source at this time. AB 377 would require all water in California to be fishable, swimmable and drinkable by 2050 which is insane and has rightly garnered a large amount of opposition.
The San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint and other groups like Valley Ag Water Coalition are trying to bring funds to all the Valley. There is some funding proposed for repairing the Friant Kern Canal. There is also some proposed funding for setting up the ASO as a permanent program. The Blueprint is looking for funding for its technical efforts. The Collaborative Action Plan is maturing and beginning to develop plans of its own. Chauhan met with Sarge Green from Fresno State about putting together plans. That’s dangerous to allow those two minds to be in the same location at the same time. Kind of like how they used to fly the President and Vice President in separate aircraft.
Chauhan said the latest FID Water Ways Newsletter is ready and will include a story on the Kings River flow flood appropriations hearing coming up before the State Board. There is also a news release about a grant award for an FID recharge basin. She also said there have been minor updates to the FID website as well as some increased hits to that page.
FID HR’s September Singh said Telemetry Supervisor Darrin Valentine is retiring after 30-years with the district. The board passed a resolution honoring him. Leonard Ruiz also recently retired after 42-years and was also honored with a resolution. Good for these gentlemen. Jacobsen also told staff to tell Valentine and Ruiz they are welcome to come back when the meetings are opened up to people again to receive their plaques.
General Manager’s Report
Stretch wanted to tell everyone how valuable Valentine and Ruiz have been to the district and he appreciates their hard work and credits them with moving the district forward.
Stretch attends the Kings River Water Association meetings and gave the board an update. He said there will be more in closed session as much of the KRWA meetings have been in closed session. The big issue is the water rights fight before the State Board that starts on June 2nd. Semitropic Water Storage District in Kern County is trying to get rights to flood flows on the Kings River. That has caused a good deal of consternation amongst those on the Kings River. He said there is a good team, a good position and reason to be confident KRWA will prevail.
The KRWA fish and wildlife committee meets quarterly. Jacobsen is the chair of that. There was a call for funds for $50,000 and FID’s share was $10,000 and the district can make two easy installment payments. That was that for KRWA.
Under the Friant Water Authority report Stretch said there was a board meeting last month. The big vote on the cost share agreement for repairing the canal has taken place. Stretch said it’s full steam ahead and said he’s very interested how this will play out. There is a lot of process taking place from land acquisition to scheduling. Stretch didn’t mention it but Fresno ID and the City of Fresno voted no on the cost share.
FID and the Raisin City Water District met at Provost & Pritchard’s office to see how things can be mutually agreeable for the two entities. RCWD is part of the McMullin Area GSA with is part of the Kings Subbasin as is the NKGSA. Stretch said there was a good talk. He and Claes is meeting with Manny Amerilli, the new GM at James ID have met and they are all interested in working together to help with SGMA.
Stretch said Claes meets frequently with both the Cities of Clovis and Fresno and sometimes Stretch joins them. Fresno wants to add eight or nine miles of trail down Fancher Creek and one of FID’s canals. Clovis’ Scott Redelfs met with FID to discuss how they can help each other with SGMA.
Stretch also told the board Jacobsen joined others in calling for Governor Gavin Newsom to declare more of the state in drought conditions. He said it was effective. Stretch also thanked the board for supporting staff. There is a sense of uncertainty and anxiousness due to the drought and FID’s staff is working its fingers to the bone.
Jacobsen said the drought declaration won’t make things whole but it will help. With the beginning of SGMA things are even more uncertain. With that the closed session started at 5:30pm and that was that.
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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 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
Jim Irwin – Water Master
David Burrows – Water Master In Training
Michael Prestridge – Superintendent of Construction & Maintenance
DeAnn Hailey – Controller
Kassy Chauhan – Special Projects Manager/North Kings GSA Executive Officer