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Fresno Irrigation District October 12, 2023

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By Don A. Wright

The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Thursday, October 12, 2023 and pointedly not online. FID turned 100 years old in 2020. Old enough to know how to run a meeting online. Why don’t they? I don’t know. They’re all a good bunch of people but for some reason hesitant to Zoom the meetings of one of the largest irrigation districts in California. Fortunately for me I live in FID and it isn’t one of the longer trips for me to take. Also, the 3pm start time is nice. You get of the meeting early enough to enjoy dinner without a rush. So, what I’m saying is I’d still go attend the meetings even if it was online but it’d be nice to have the option.

The Meeting

As sure as the sun rises in the East Chairman Ryan Jacobsen called the meeting to order at 3:00pm on the dot, as is his want. We all saluted the flag and reviewed the agenda and future meetings. There were no conflicts of interest and the consent was passed. There was an item on the consent calendar, item I, that included the phrase “Discussion/Possible Action”. That threw a few of us but the wording was there in case it was pulled it’d be all legal like under the Brown Act to discuss and act upon.


            DeAnn Hailey-Stork gave her report on district funds, budgets, budget transfers and paying the bills. Getting vehicles in California has become increasingly difficult thanks in part to the great job   being done by union dock worker leaders, train robbers and the Secretary of Transportation in dealing with the supply chain. FID and other districts are having to scramble to meet their vehicle needs. Unlike the supply chain Hailey-Storke did such a great job the board agreed to pay the district’s bills including payroll. That makes everyone happy. Director Jerry Prieto asked if FID is member of the Fresno County Chamber of Commerce and the answer is yes. He asked if former GM Gary Serrato is still on the pay as a consultant and General Manager Bill Stretch said yes. What does Serrato do? Don’t know anymore, haven’t heard a report from him in a while. But he was sure good at putting together water deals.

Next Hailey-Stork reported there needs to be a reallocation of some funds from 2022 to 2023. This was a bookkeeping item and the board approved without questions.

Water Report

Assistant General Manager Adam Claes reported on Central Valley Project news saying Millerton Lake is being drawn down quickly as the Friant Kern Canal is being shut down on November 1st. Deadpool is 135,000 a/f but there isn’t much danger of that being hit before the FKC is shut down. FID has brought in all of its CVP supplies so it’s in good shape.Brandt Water Treatment

On the Kings River Claes reported the Army Corps of Engineers has Pine Flat storage at 624,000 a/f. The way water is divided on the Kings River FID is no longer accruing storage but it still has 100,000 a/f. There is a post-harvest bump in deliveries. This year’s October is less wet than last year but that’s not a big surprise. October 31st is the last day for scheduled deliveries. Director George Porter said he’s receiving a good deal of requests to extend that time two weeks since almonds have been late this year. I expect to hear a discussion about this matter.

Claes reported there is a dire project on the Herndon Canal that must be made asap because it’s the big mover of urban flood water. He said there are many other projects he wants finished by the end of the year. He said staff recommends stopping deliveries and drying up the system for maintenance and repairs. Porter reiterated he’d like to see deliveries extended two weeks into November or until demand drops. It makes it more difficult to complete the work that needs dry conditions to finish.

Director Greg Beberian asked about some last minute deliveries at the end of summer and start of fall. As it turns out there was a big demand for recharge and more late season water is going to the aquifer. Beberian asked for staff to keep folks informed about the amounts of water going to district basins. Beberian also made a good point to keep the growers informed about the ability to move their watering time off the schedule this time of year. Some crops are finished and the next time to irrigate isn’t as crucial. Some folks are still harvesting and can’t take water until later. Beberian wanted to be sure that folks who are scheduled later in the month and can take water sooner are able to take it sooner. AndLidco Inc. that way folks who have to wait for harvest to finish and may have been scheduled earlier could lose their opportunity before the shut down because folks who wanted water earlier were scheduled later. Got it?

Back to extending the delivery season Stretch said there is an entire bypass on the Epstein Canal that must be built. If water is being run the district could rent a pump for $80,000 per month. The board voted to end deliveries on October 31st with Porter the lone no vote.

Engineering Report

Next Engineer Lawrence Kimura reported on public and private development as well as in-house projects. He reported getting a NEPA permit is not like getting a CEQA permit. It actually takes longer. He and staff have been wrestling with the High on Speed Rail folks for right of way.

The urban trails project is ongoing and some benches are being installed. Kimura reported there are 10 FID projects currently ongoing. Prieto said there is a canal bank with open gates on the east side of the district and sees folks driving up and down it all the time. Kimura then showed a gob of construction photos. Come to find out surge chambers are nothing more than underground standpipes. They look a little like UFO landing pads.

Special Projects

Special Projects Manager Kassy Chauhan reported on the Big Dry Creek Project going on’s. She said it would be a brief report. They are still working on who the partners are on this project. The City of Clovis is taking on 10 percent and the City of Fresno hasn’t made up its mind yet. There will be a meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers to help figure out how to keep the funding flowing. She mentioned consultant Austin Ewell has been very helpful and is keeping an eye on federal budget matters.

Construction & Maintenance

Building the equipment inventory in September, according to Claes, had a lot to do with keeping plants from boogering up the system. Crews got a new mower and flail arm. There is always a lot of pruning to provide FID crews access to the canal banks. Crews were able to salvage a Langemann Gate for further use and that will save a good chunk of change.

There is a creek that runs through an urban area that started to have some erosion and FID still had to pull an emergency permit to repair it. Claes said Provost & Pritchard was helpful in getting that done in a timely manner.

Creeks eroding, canals being overran with weeds, repairs to gates and pipelines; a wet year like 2023 brings a lot of maintenance to the table for the next year’s preparation.

Administrative Matters

Chauhan began with SGMA. She said the Kings River Subbasin’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan passed but there were still some problems pointed out by the Department of Water Resources. She and staff are meeting with DWR to find out how to best improve the passage of the GSP. There is very little guidance for the periodic evaluation.

Chauhan said the State Board may be experiencing a “be careful what you ask for” event. The first subbasin under review for an inadequate GSP was going to be at the end of the year or start of the new year and the State Board has been putting the hearings out further and further. A very large volume of work is awaiting the good folks in Sacramento and it doesn’t look like they were expecting the overwhelming task heading their way.

About a half a million acre feet was recharged in the Kings Subbasin this past year. Consolidated Irrigation District recharged the most, FID came in second and every GSA recharged something. CID has natural, sandy bottom recharge in the ancient Kings River channel and FID is pretty much ahead of the game in developing dedicated recharge facilities. As more and more on farm recharge is developed these numbers could go much higher. There is federal funding through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for on farm recharge. Beberian said texting could be a good way to get the word out about this considering he’s received texts from just about everyone running for office. Staff believes so far email and snail mail are the best way to communicate with FID growers.

A letter asking for at least $1.5 billion in SGMA funding will be sent to the Governor, elected officials and the other GSAs.

Chauhan said the Kings Water Alliance is holding a management zone implementation for nitrate control Zoom meeting soon. Nitrates in groundwater is now a bigger problem according to the state than salt.

The Kings River Water Quality Coalition is a way for landowners to deal cooperatively, the herd protection theory, to deal with the Irrigated Lands Program, the nitrates program and a couple of other state mandated programs is causing growers to have to pay more and more per acre. Porter asked if the state complies all this data. Chauhan said the coalitions and alliances turn in data and the state relies on it. If you’re not in a coalition the Regional Board will go after you as an individual and tear you a new one. Prieto was Fresno County Ag Commissioner when the coalitions were formed and he said it was the best of a bad situation to protect growers.

External Affairs    

Chauhan reported on external affairs including federal affairs and funding from the government. There is some state funding coming up too. The Army Corps of Engineers is key to getting some funds to work with Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control.

Chauhan said there is an ongoing dialog with Congressman John Duarte. The board wants to have a good working relationship with him, as well as Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Jim Costa.

On the state side there isn’t a lot happening at the moment but for AB 1637 that will require local agencies to go to .gov website and email addresses by 2029. Agencies are securing domain names as I sit here typing.

Under public relations FID’s Water Ways newsletter has been printed and will soon be mailed. Stretch said a new team helped to put this edition together and I agree with him, it looks good. I like getting things to read on paper.

Chauhan spoke to the San Joaquin River Association annual meeting last night. Who are they? They are landowners along the San Joaquin River, both ag and residential as I recall. I once attended a dinner meeting and won a diamond ring in a raffle. Good for me.


            September Singh gave a report quite unusual. She said for the moment anyway, FID is fully staffed. Singh showed photos of the new employees coming and going. She also reminded the board if you want to make changes to your Cal Pers enrollment tomorrow is the deadline and she brought forms. Beberian asked if there is a good response to positions. The candidacy pool is better this time than in the past.

GM Report

Stretch said the closed session is long so he’ll be fast. The Friant board will have an offsite meeting and not a retreat to talk and focus on San Joaquin River restoration matters. Other updates Stretch reported there is a BBQ at the end of the water season. This year Friday, November 17th noonish is the date.

Tomorrow a clown car full folks are heading out to Harris Ranch for the ACWA Region Six and Seven meeting. There are good speakers lined up. Stretch will be attending a roundtable of agencies dealing with the Mayor of Clovis. Chauhan was a featured speaker at Fresno State University recently for a Public Policy Institute SGMA seminar.

Stretch said that was it.

Directors’ Reports & Closed Session

Next the directors had nothing to say and kabobs were served as the board went into closed session for nine items of varying degree of urgency. That was that at 5:10pm in Fresno World. Go be good to yourselves and others.

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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

David Burrows – Water Master

Michael Prestridge – Superintendent of Construction & Maintenance

DeAnn Hailey-Stork – Controller

Kassy Chauhan – Special Projects Manager/North Kings GSA Executive Officer