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Fresno Irrigation District September 19, 2017

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The Fresno Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. It’s been a long day of meetings and I appreciate Chairman Ryan Jacobsen’s enthusiasm to get things going at 4:00pm. We jumped up and saluted the flag. The consent calendar was approved without comment and I’ve barely got my computer fired up by then. Director Christopher Woolf let folks know he may have a conflict on an item later in the agenda. DeAnn Hailey gave the controller’s report. She did such a good job they approved it.

Water Master Bill Irwin gave his report saying there is talk of the US Bureau of Reclamation declaring a five percent Class II allocation. I think I heard him right. The weather is cooling down but will go up later in the month to the 90s. However, weather prophets are saying there could be snow at the highest elevations. Pine Flat has 650,000 a/f in storage. Years following very wet years like this past year historically have been normal or slightly better. General Manager Gary Serrato said the amount of water at Pine Flat is higher now than last year’s peak. He said there is a very good chance FID’s storage will be encroaching and there is no need for the amount of carryover. Serrato said deliveries for recharge could run into November. Director Greg Beberian said as soon as his raisins are picked up he’s going to start putting water in the ground. Director George Porter asked what is a safe carryover. Serrato said he’d take it down to the temperature control pool but anything between 30,000 to 45,000 a/f would be good. Consolidated ID has about 100,000 a/f in storage at Pine Flat. This is raisin drying time but CID’s new head-gate failed and that has a lot to do with things. It was said there was some wire mesh left out of the downstream side of the structure and that is being repaired as fast as possible. Some contractor or inspector or both is probably sweating it about now.

Lawrence Kimura, FID’s chief engineer reported there are currently no landowner initiated projects taking place. He listed some other routine matters and the board had no questions. It was a beautiful example of a quick engineering report. Then along came the district’s Special Project engineer Adam Claes. He combined like three of his items and showed pictures. This is like when the substitute teacher showed movies. He showed pictures of large backhoes pulling aquatic weeds from a canal and Beberian said the district should dry it and sell it as organic fertilizer. One photo showed how effective the efforts to remove the homeless from along the urban canal banks. That was achieved with help from the Fresno Police Department and when the foliage is trimmed back the recidivism is reduced. However, the next photo and I hope so very much to get a copy, shows a tent erected on a long-crested weir. I lost track laughing and Claes continued showing some much-needed pipeline repairs.

Claes reported on the Southwest Banking Facility. It’s a 180-acre groundwater banking project with James ID. This starts with digging a levee keyway. Claes said the contractor digs a long trench where the levee will sit. He then goes back and fill the trench in and compact it to grade. As Claes said it’s anti climatic. The regulations call for any levee more than six feet high to fall into the category of a dam. Six feet one inch and the Army Corps of Engineers or the state’s Division of Dams or FERC or someone gets their nose and nuts in the middle of it. The district also has spread all weather road topping in key areas. They don’t for the most part have a fleet of four-wheel drive dune buggies so the rock mixture helps a lot during the winter. Claes reported on the district needs eight more pickups and two dump trucks. Staff does a good job of rotating vehicles out of service at 200,000 miles. He said the guys in the shop develop a list of equipment that needs to most likely be replaced in the coming year. This really helps with making budget requests as it allows time for bargain shopping. That helped staff secure a yes vote from the board to purchase new equipment.

Assistant General Manager Bill Stretch reported on the North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency. There’s a board meeting later this month. Stretch said the technical and advisory committees have been meeting and making progress. The monthly meetings of the GSAs in Kings River Sub Basin where monthly, then quarterly now haven’t happened in some time and he knows of none in the future. There will be a GSA workshop in Clovis at the Veterans Memorial Building at 1:00pm. Serrato commented that DWR is willing to accept several GSP plans per sub basins; ala one per GSA. He would suggest one GSP per sub basin, at least in the Kings River sub basin, with chapters from each GSA. So, there are seven GSAs in the Kings sub basin. He also said all the schools in Fresno County that pump their own water are being notified of how GSA will impact their districts.

Stretch also reported on the developments of Friant North. The meetings may be scheduled quarterly now that there is more integration with Friant Water Authority. There is a bond being floated by Dr. Gerry Meral that has $750 million to fix the subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal. Serrato said it may not be popular but he doesn’t believe the FID farmers who should pay for the subsidence damage. He said it wasn’t FID farmers pumping the land out from under the canal at the Tulare Kern Counties line. This problem happened before in 1977. He acknowledged there was no supplies for a couple of years but since this wasn’t a regular O&M costs he doesn’t want FID’s growers to have to pay for the cost sharing portion. Stretch then said a grower with land in FID and Raisin City WD. RCWD has no surface supplies. FID’s canal goes near the land owned by the grower who would love to bank it. There are many moving parts this and it is similar to the agreement being negotiated in Tulare ID. The landowner could spend money on many different things such as water and connecting infrastructure and FID could spend money or water on this project. Serrato said this type of arrangement is going to become more and more common. He said the district isn’t prepared to move into an agreement yet because the SGMA rules and accounting are not ready. However, he does want to have the conversations and in fact has had other similar requests. The board spent some time discussing how the agreement could be structured so as to be mutually beneficial to the landowner and the district. Attorney Jeff Boswell said this could work but the trick will be to do the proper preparation and remember the district will be expected to make the same deal with everyone.

Serrato gave his report and said the Kings River Water Association had a longtime employee retire. It was disclosed KRWA has just hired two young men. It took them two years to do it. But there was some KRWA land sold and $300,000 won’t be going back to the member districts. I suspect they could use it to pay the new guys.

He said there is some movement on the Temperance Flat Dam efforts. Friant Water Authority has agreed to join the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority JPA. The Prop One grant was submitted and Serrato pointed out engineer Bill Swanson did a great job. Somehow or other Serrato knew Westlands voted down the California Water Fix and in his opinion he never saw how that project could be of benefit to Friant. He recently met with US Bureau of Reclamation’s Regional Director David Murillo and they talked about amongst other things the San Joaquin River Restoration. Senator Diane Feinstein is very unhappy with the progress being made and has called the all the players back to the table. The Natural Resource Defense Council, the evil greedy corporate environmentalist is reportedly very unhappy about this as well. I didn’t notice any tears but Serrato announced he’s going on a two-week vacation at the end of October and won’t be at the next meeting.

Jacobsen acknowledged Director Woolf walked out of the room while Stretch talked about how a row of almonds was flooded. I don’t know Woolf’s connection but the board approved paying a $400 claim.

Woolf came back to the room for director’s reports. He announced his Dad recently turned 100-years old. How about that? Director Jerry Prieto said he just experienced the down side of trespassing when he ran some folks off of family property and found out they had been charging folks to use it as a land fill. He had to dig out all the junk. The meeting then went into closed session.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2017 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

Doug Jensen – Attorney