The Friant Water Authority held its Executive Committee on Monday, October 18, 2021, with committee members meeting at its Lindsay headquarters and the assorted riff raff joining online by WebEx. Let me tell you about WebEx. It’s an online meeting service by Cisco. Cisco is not a company you want to do business with if you believe in fairness, equality, non-corrupt government and want a decent online meeting platform. Cisco is up to its nose in wokeness at the expense of truth and even GoToMeetings is easier to log in and participate. So, in summation, WebEx sucks. Friant just deserves better.
Also, and I can’t really prove this, but I think Cisco is somehow tied in with the auto-bot that continually calls warning they’ve moved heaven and earth to try and contact me with a dire warning my auto repair warranty is about to expire. This is a courtesy call mind you because I haven’t responded to any of the mail they sent me. They kindly offer to remove my number from their call list if I push nine or whatever. At this point I believe there is a higher chance the Sultan of Brunie’s disposed great niece sending me a share of the $100 million she’s trying to smuggle out of the country than being removed from the car warranty renewal scam call list.
The Executive Committee was scheduled to come out of closed session at 10:30am. Chairman Cliff Loeffler got things rolling at 10:36am. During public comment I was somewhat gratified to find out I wasn’t the only one who feels WebEx isn’t the best choice. Minutes were approved officially for the second time after Director Edwin Camp was able to get unmuted. He said, “Aye, aye.”
The Ex Committee was presented with a calendar that had Christmas in the wrong place, the first Monday after Thanksgiving in November. I pointed that out. Executive Director Jason Phillips wasn’t happy because acknowledging this error deprived FWA an extra holiday. But the correction was incorporated
Doug DeFlitch reported GSI needs to have a new task order approved for $125,000 to continue its work in 2022. GSI is working with Friant, hydrogeologist Thomas Harder and the GSAs in the subsidence impacted area. Attorney Don Davis pointed out GSI will be FWA’s eyes and ears on monitoring the situation.
The construction firm to actually do the work of repairing the Friant Kern Canal has been selected and there is great hope the groundbreaking ceremony will take place in the rain sometime later this month or early November with construction starting in December if I understood. Camp said Christmas will take place early this year after all.
The project is subject to a cultural survey. DeFlitch said what is being looked at depends on whatever the part of state government in charge of historic preservation, wants to look at. A plane is being flown the length of the canal to make record of any historical stuff. This is intended to result in a document that should check off whatever boxes the bureaucracy needs checked to be sure the historic parts of the FKC are noted. Someone urged the state to be sure and spell correctly the names of the various graffiti artists who have contributed to the canal’s panache. DeFlitch said he hopes there isn’t any graffiti still on the canal old enough to be historical.
Phillips asked DeFlitch what Friant needs to be ready for. DeFlitch said FWA, the US Bureau of Reclamation and the contractors will be having meetings to make sure things are coordinated. There will be meetings of the teams to be sure everyone is on the same page and what the chain of decisions are, to avoid problems in communication.
Camp is a director from Arvin Edison WSD and his district is at the end of the canal. That makes this subject particularly important to him. Camp asked if there is a problem does the contractor answer to the Bureau only? Phillips asked attorney Don Davis for a comment. Davis said there is a project management plan with an agreement baked in that requires the Bureau to deal with any problems FWA has, but yes, the contractor answers to the Bureau. Let me be clear, it sounded very much to me if there is any he said-she said going on the Bureau has Friant’s back. And let me be clear about that, I think we’re going to find both the Bureau and Friant are most interested in a smooth running job and will be very fair.
Phillips said he had some good times recently attending home board meetings, from Arvin to Teapot Dome. He said pulling up in a Tesla really ingratiated him with the natives. Director Rick Borges said he expects Tulare ID should have a charging station now that General Manager Aaron Fukuda has an electric Mustang. I believe it was Fukuda who said you can use the 220 plug in the TID shop’s welding bay.
Phillips said the folks who know the most about hydrology within the Governor’s office belief 2022 will be another dry year. With litigation being the norm it appears the Biden administration’s efforts to repeal the Delta Biological Opinions will place a moving target on operations this coming year.
The Association of California Water Agencies held a Region Six and Seven meeting at Harris Ranch Inn recently. Phillips said he and Tim Quinn spoke about the Cooperative Action Plan. The CAP is similar to the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint but made up of different players. There are NGOs and environmental groups who are actually coming together with ag in most areas of agreement. There are a couple of land fallowing and recharge issues. They call fallowing and retirement land repurposing. There are four or five caucuses representing the various interests and no one is looking at blocking things but nor are they looking at rubber stamping fluffy, feel good proposals. He said implementation is Phase II and that’s when the Blueprint comes into play. The goal is to get buy in from everyone before that happens.
Delano Earlimart ID GM Eric Quinley asked what it would take to get more endorsement for recharge. Phillips said everyone agrees there needs to be recharge. The non-ag folks believe a two to three million acre feet groundwater deficit will be taken care of with 200,000 a /f of recharge. If that’s how it plays out then there will be massive land retirement and the CAP isn’t needed for that. However, there are many years with 10 million a/f above any enviro need flowing through the Delta out to sea. The issue is how to capture some of this water to help alleviate the groundwater deficit. It can be done with the Blueprint without harm to the environment while providing augmentation of drinking water and economic supplies and the social base.
Phillips said he and Friant CFO Wilson Orvis, along with attorneys are talking with San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority about how Friant will pay its share of the new costs of how power transmission will be shared. FWA pays for the Exchange Contractors water and the power needed to get the water where it goes. SLDM is looking at bonding for $300 million for a new transmission project. The problem is that will require a $28 million annual payment and during dry years most of the water is going to Ex Con. That means Friant will have to pay for most of the costs during such years. He said the project has been planned for a long time but it’s only been a few months since the financing portion has been up for discussion. So there is sense by some that Friant is trying to step up at the last minute to grumble about costs. But I don’t believe it’s a strong sense or there is any grumbling taking place. That was the end of the CEO report and Loeffler said bye-bye at 11:26am and boom, the feed was cut and the meeting was over just like that.
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FRIANT WATER AUTHORITY
854 N. Harvard Ave., Lindsay, CA 93247, Office 559/562-6305 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.friantwater.org
The Friant Water Authority is a Joint Powers Agreement with 17 districts to operate and maintain the Friant Division of the Central Valley Water Project. Water from the San Joaquin River is diverted at Friant Dam at Millerton Lake to the Madera/Chowchilla Canal to the north and the Friant/Kern Canal to the south. More than one million acres of mostly family farms and numerous communities get their surface supplies from the Friant Division.
Staff: CEO Jason Phillips, COO Doug DeFlitch, CFO Wilson Orvis, Government Affairs & Communication Alexandra Biering, Water Resource Manager Ian Buck-Macleod, Superintendent Chris Hickernell, Chief of External Affairs Johnny Amaral, Director of Technology Christopher Hunter and Attorney Don Davis.