The Glenn Colusa Irrigation District met at its Willows headquarters in person and with an audio phone link on Thursday, March 17, 2022. While there is no perfect remote participation, problems with audio and visual platforms exist, it is good to allow the public a widow into the public meeting. At gas approaching $6 per gallon it makes a big and beneficial difference to include the option for remote participation. That’s not popular with all the districts but it appears based on pending legislation to be heading that direction. I’m glad GCID has kept this form or communication open.
Things must have kicked off quickly. I tuned in to the scheduled 9:00am meeting at 9:01am and they must have been ripping through the agenda because they where already past the call to order, the flag salute God bless them, public participation and the consent calendar. You got to like a well run meeting that doesn’t bog down into minutia. I didn’t hear for sure but I think Chairman Don Bransford is on top of how to conduct business this morning.
Having only sat through one GCID board meeting in person I can’t identify the speakers by the sound of their voices but I believe it may well have been General Manger Thad Bettner who said there is only 1.7 million a/f of storage at Shasta Reservoir. Shasta holds 4.7 million a/f.
Bettner gave a supply update saying this spring is unprecedented territory. Shasta isn’t gaining from inflow. The question is how much carryover and last September the target was 1.2 million a/f. Salmon survival depends on cold water and the lower the lake goes the warmer the water gets. That might end up only allowing half a million a/f of releases. The state and federal agencies are working out a schedule for operations. Bettner listed off a who’s who of government bureaucrats both state and federal who are working out an allocation and operations plan by April. Someone said a judge ruled the State Board needs to sign off on the temperature control plan before any diversions can take place. It was said the State Board and staff knows time is of the essence on this but they tend to bog down with procedure. There was a comment that this process is very similar to the same process as the 2014-2015 drought. The amount of available water is smaller this year.
GCID is responding by preparing options for the landowners that include more flexible transfers and really anything else they can do. I asked and 2.2 million a/f is the usual Shasta supply for the Sacramento Valley CVP contractors. They are first in line for Shasta supplies so there won’t be much left over for pumping south of the Delta. And unfortunately it doesn’t look like there will be much water for transfers to go south.
Things are tough this year. The last big drought was 2014-2015. Eight years ago, well within living history and I asked for GCID’s perception of how the regulators are utilizing what they learned from then. Bettner said there was more water available last time and no judge’s order on temperature control. He said the only State Board member currently serving that went through the last drought is Dee D’Adamo. Eileen Sobeck, the current Executive Director is new and if you’ve been following these reports you know her priority for the state board is racial equity. See her quote here: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/racial_equity/ Hopefully there is some institutional memory amongst senior staff who recognize the need for speed and not dragging decisions out past the time when they do any good. If nothing else perhaps the bureaucracy recognizes the need to move fast in desperate times.
I’m fairly new to GCID coverage but experience tells me an audit is an audit for government agencies. The audit was conducted and prepared by Richardson & Company and a lady named Ingrid gave the presentation. Let’s see how long she takes – 9:23am go! She finished her report at 9::37am. What’s that? Fourteen minutes, not bad. Also GCID had a good audit and the board approved. These water entities are run by farmers for the most part and after you’ve heard two directors wrangler over where to purchase bearings – well they are very conscious of what’s happening on the books.
Next was a report from Janet Zimmerman at CV Strategies. Her presentation was given on MS Teams which means nine times out of 10 it loads four or five minutes after the presentation is over, if at all. All I got was a message saying “We ran into a problem. Try again in a few minutes.” That’s the second time this week I’ve ran into a MS Teams problem. Zoom is the answer.
Anyway, Zimmerman gave the board an update on the services and goals CV Strategies is providing. Message control is at the top of the list and will go a long ways to giving a complete picture of GCID. This includes enviro stewardship, and a partnership with its clients. The first question was – Is GCID’s branding working? There was a total analysis of this at a workshop with staff. Audiences were identified as well as how to reach them. A timeline was developed, even the logo was reviewed.
I have to say there was something different about the agenda. It used to be a plain white page with Courier font or some such. Today’s agenda was strikingly different. The layout was improved and the information easier to access. I’ve done a bit of design back in my newspaper days so I think I’ve got enough background to say it looks good. The colors and the fonts are so important and although I prefer a serif font for ease of reading CV Strategies used sanserif. If we’ve learned anything from Dilbert it’s that a sanserif font will save on printer ink. This is where these reports meander to when MS Teams doesn’t provide the visual portion of a visual presentation.
Staff reports were next. O&M was first followed by engineering. Unfortunately the audio wasn’t all it should be and I couldn’t hear much of what was said. The staff voices sounded like they were filtered through a fast cycling audio wave flanger. My guess is unlike the board they are not literally sitting at the table and the microphones were further away.
Here’s what I was able to grab, beware it’s out of context. Provost & Pritchard is working on some design for the district. The State Water Resources Out of Control Board was mentioned. Well monitoring for CASGM is ongoing and the data is going to DWR and the Colusa Basin GSP. There is an April 1st deadline and folks are scrambling. This data will be publicly available online. GCID is involved in the Sites Reservoir Project. SGMA reports are due at the end of the month.
The treasurer’s report was a little clearer. It was given by perhaps Finance Director Louis Jarvis. A good deal of balances were noted and the voice said GCID will be able to keep its cash flow needs met. The district has money in the Local Agency Investment Fund. The district has some funds invested somewhere else with a yield of .728 which is triple the LAIF yield. The budget was mentioned and the board approved the report.
The first item in the informational report category was meetings. John (Director John Amaro?) said there is a lot going on in groundwater. He said the two significant impacts are the dry conditions and the subsidence in the Arbuckle area of half a foot in some cases. There is a 218 Election being looked at and the staffing issues at the Colusa Groundwater Authority is growing past the ability of one person to manage. There was a meeting in Corning where financing was discussed. He said now that expenditures are coming online there is more attention being paid. But it’s not a popular topic in that area. It was pointed out to the folks GCID operations does provide a good deal of the recharge taking place there. If I understood correctly. I also heard there are significant sink holes from soil erosion that could swallow a tractor.
The GM and the attorney had nothing to say in open session and there was no other business. The meeting adjourned to closed session for six items at 10:22am. That was that. Go be good to yourselves and each other.
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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.