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Greater Kaweah GSA October 11, 2021

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Bermad irrigationThe Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Monday, October 11, 2021, board of directors meeting scheduled for 11:30am. The meeting was in person with limited seating and on Zoom. But there was a surprise twist. The first order was closed session. General Manager Eric Osterling said the closed session portion should last about an hour and they will take a short break and email everyone when they are coming back into open session.Conterra

The agenda had closed session listed last but GKGSA is taking the agenda out of order. This happens sometimes when an attorney or some other special guest has a limited time slot to appear in the closed session. Sometimes a situation has to be resolved in closed session before it can be dealt with in open session. I know that sounds a bit like Pelosi’s, “We have to pass it before we can find out what’s in it” or however she phrased her remarks about the content of Obamacare. However, there are instances when a closed session real estate negotiation must be completed before the board can approve or deny action in open session. In this case the closed session item was listed as one case of anticipated litigation. Your guess is as good as mine as to why the board went straight into closed session. They are supposed to clue us in what happened during closed session when they reconvene in open session. We got an email stating the open session will convene at 2:25pm. Almost three hours of closed session for an anticipated lawsuit. That must be some monster of a legal challenge. Good thing they have Aubrey Mauritson representing them.

The Meeting

Chairman Don Mills came back at 2:27 pm and under public comment I asked about the closed session report and was told they’ll get to it.

Osterling gave the Kaweah Subbasin Report. He started with a graphic of a draft pumping cap proposal for the GKGSA pumpers. It takes into account surface water and native groundwater and has three tiers: One-temp groundwater supply, Two-temp groundwater supply and a severe penalty tier. Osterling said if you only are allowed one acre foot and you pump three, you won’t be allowed to pump for the next two years. And there is a fine included. There will be restrictions in carryover from year to year. The pumping caps being contemplated fall between two and three acre feet per year.

Several committee meetings have been cancelled and there are plans to meet next week. He hopes to hammer out some of the details and get buy in. The formal 90-day comment period will start in January of next year. Osterling said the rules and regulations are not ready yet. The current proposal is to not apply any cap until a year from now. But the GSA will track actual pumping with estimated pumping amounts. Native groundwater is estimated at 10” per acre. Transferability isn’t going to be one to one. So there’s that to consider. He said to come to the next committee meeting to dive into the details.

Osterling also pointed out Johnny Gailey, Executive Director of the Delta View Water Association was the one member of the public who sat through the closed session in the lobby. Delta View is an organization of White Area landowners and they have been particularly curious of what type and kind of allocations may come out of GKGSA. Gailey said he’s glad to hear nothing will be imposed before next year as it will take time to educate the growers. Geoff Vanden Heuvel, Milk Producers Council spoke up also saying it was good none of the proposed rules will be retroactive and while it would have been good to have got something this year it is uncharted territory. Aaron Fukuda, GM Tulare ID and the Mid Kaweah GSA said GKGSA’s lack of implementing rules will make it difficult to coordinate with the other two GSAs in the Subbasin. Craig Wallace said the East Kaweah GSA echoed Fukuda’s concerns. Osterling said this is still a proposal and subject to change. Stacie Ann Silva asked if there are other proposals coming out later, she like I, wanted to know if this is what came out of closed session. Osterling said most of this took place during an ad hoc committee so there was nothing to report. Fukuda asked if the two to three a/f per acre is the proposed for the entire subbasin or just the GKGSA. Osterling said those numbers are proposed for GKGSA only and they are the start of the ramp down, not the 20-years out figure. He reminded everyone to be sure and attend the combined committee meetings coming up soon where more details can be presented.

Some of the big concerns of the growers in GKGSA was a retroactive reduction of pumping. That was answered at this meeting. As of now there are no plans for surprising growers with a last minute pumping limit. The next meeting will be November 8th at 1pm and Mills said there was no reportable action and the meeting adjourned at 2:50pm.

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SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

Greater Kaweah GSA JPA – Chair Don Mills-Lakeside Water ID, Vice Chair Chris Tantau-Kaweah Delta WCD, Pete Vander Poel-County of Tulare, Ernie Taylor-Kings County WD, Stephen Johnson-Cal Water Service, Eric Shannon-St Johns WD, Paul Boyer-Rural Communities Committee, Joe Cardoza-Stakeholder Committee & Brian Watte-Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District representative.

Eric Osterling-General Manager/Secretary, Aubrey Mauritson-Legal Counsel

Offices shared with the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, 2975 Farmersville Blvd., Farmersville, CA 93223   Tel. 559/747-5601

DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin Valley, Sub Basin Kaweah 5-022.11