The Glenn Colusa Irrigation District board of directors met remotely by telephone only, on Thursday, January 21, 2021. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the water world in the San Joaquin Valley and I know something about it. So, when it comes to the Sacramento Valley I’d have to say I’ve trimmed my fingernails almost to the quick and I’m tickling it while wearing ski mittens. I do know geographically Sacramento Valley isn’t as large as the San Joaquin Valley, depending on where you draw the boundary, I think about half the size. It has the Sacramento River running down its entire length. That could be a plus. The San Joaquin River doesn’t even flow through Kern, Tulare or Kings Counties. But thanks to modern engineering the San Joaquin does provide water to those counties through the Central Valley Project.
I think those of us in the southern portion of the Central Valley think of the northern portion as having certain advantages. The population density in the north is far less and therefore the pressures of urban development is also less. The north does receive more precipitation and it doesn’t have to move its supplies through the Delta. Sounds good? Kind of, but as each day has its own troubles each location its own challenges.
Speaking of challenges we can all be grateful we’re not in Los Angeles. Here’s a ridiculously long link to an article in the San Joaquin Valley Sun about debt involving domestic water users. http://sjvsun.com/california/growing-worry-as-californians-owe-1bil-in-water-bill-debt/?utm_source=Sunrise+A.M.&utm_campaign=3516c3661d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_03_15_07_27_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_44bc765148-3516c3661d-366671592
Having the meeting only by telephone wasn’t that bad. But I didn’t recognize today’s voices as well as I do at other meetings I have attended in person for a decade. I do miss the Zoom feature wherein whoever is speaking, their name appears. Of course that is a moot point if there is more than one person using the same microphone and the camera doesn’t show whose lips are moving.
The meeting was called to order at 9:00am by Chairman Don Bransford and the consent agenda was approved in its entirety. There was a land lease agreement between Shad Platt and GCID and it was mentioned more insurance is needed. There are cattle on the property and cows get out sometimes. I’ve had cattle that were really furry Houdini’s. I recall there was Hereford steer we had back when I was in high school. Fences meant nothing. If he was alive today in Washington DC I wouldn’t be surprised to see the headline, “Bovine Attends Inauguration Uninvited”.
A draft Virus prevention program is required by OSHA and GCID is working to comply. It involves wearing masks and paid leave and such. There will be a board workshop where this will be dealt with in greater detail.
General Manager Thad Bettner pointed out there are two closed session items to be covered later today. Under public participation I identified myself and that was it for that item.
Reports were next and the audio broke down at least at my end. During the maintenance report I think I heard a portion of the system was dewatered and a pumping plant was installed and a backhoe may or may not have had a bucket. I believe this audio was a case where the speaker was just far enough away from the mic.
Provost & Pritchard and R&R Construction are working through the northern Delta flow action meetings with GCID staff. As rice fields drain food for fish is provided. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that. Landowner outreach along the private laterals is still ongoing. Gates along the Main Canal are all being inspected. There has been proactive maintenance on this branch of the system and that has helped keep repairs to a minimum.
Average precipitation has dropped to 60 percent of normal this year. MBK Engineers estimated the inflow to Shasta Lake is well below what’s needed to get a 100-percent allocation. There is rain and snow in the forecast for the northern mountains and in the Sac Valley. GCID is already making plans for a critical year supply and landowners are being advised to be ready.
The new administration in Washington DC may be or may not be helpful. I believe Bransford said the new folks at the Department of Interior could make things difficult in improving the situation in California water. Like President Trump or not under his administration the federal water agencies were kinder and friendlier than under Obama. Some progress was made. Many of the pundits I’ve heard are saying it would be a wise course of action for Biden to follow up on the gains made in the past four years. I guess we’ll see where Biden’s administration lands on providing water to agriculture in California.
There’s been surveying going on and flume designing as well. Mapping and aerial imagery captured by flying an airplane and hanging a camera out the window has become expensive. Staff is working with folks who understand Google Earth and is able to update the imagery and in many cases improve the view. Good for them.
Bransford asked if there is an easier way to set up the district’s order forms. It sounded like there is a good deal of redundancy in the process. It was said during a dry year like this the district’s accounting system can’t really do much more than it is already doing and that would preclude a reduction in paperwork.
The report was given by Louis Jarvis, GCID Finance Director and the Local Agency Investment Fund had millions in it. Jarvis said all of GCID’s investments are in complete compliance with approved policy. There are two types of investment accounts, core and reserve. I guess 2020 was a good year for LAIF because the district has been receiving a return. I don’t follow special district investments much but I do recall in t
he past LAIF wasn’t considered a good investment for two reasons; the interest was very low and there was always a concern the state might confiscate the funds and spend it. I guess things have improved over the years. That would be nice to have something to do with state government improve. Bettner said the district received $10.5 million in a settlement from the Army Corps of Engineers and that is in the bank.
There were no other reports and the meeting went into closed session at 9:33am. The agenda had two anticipated cases of potential litigation and real property negotiation listed. The real property was water supplies and that was that.
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GLENN COLUSA ID – President Donald R. Bransford, Vice President Peter Knight, John Amaro, Logan Dennis and Blake Vann.
Staff: Thaddeus Bettner – General Manager, Zac Dickens – District Engineer, Kevin Nelson – Superintendent, Louis Jarvis – Finance Director, Andy Hitchings – Attorney Somach, Simons & Dunn.
344 East Laurel Street
Willows, CA 95988
DWR SGMA # 5-021.52
From the GCID website: Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) is dedicated to providing reliable, affordable water supplies to its landowners and water users, while ensuring the environmental and economic viability of the region. As the largest irrigation district in the Sacramento Valley, GCID has a long history of serving farmers and the agricultural community and maintaining critical wildlife habitat. The District fulfills its mission of efficiently and effectively managing and delivering water through an ever-improving delivery system and responsible policies, while maintaining a deep commitment to sustainable practices. Looking ahead, GCID will remain focused on continuing to deliver a reliable and sustainable water supply by positioning itself to respond proactively, strategically and responsibly to California’s ever-changing water landscape.