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Greater Kaweah GSA Stakeholder Committee January 2, 2018

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The Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Area’s Stakeholder Committee meeting was held on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District headquarters in Farmersville. KDWCD General Manager Mark Larsen has been helping the GSA to get up and running. KDWCD Director Brian Watte is the committee chair. The meeting began about 10:00 am and the minutes were approved.
Larsen spoke about the $1.5 million grant available for the Kaweah Sub Basin to use for coordination and GSP development. The East Kaweah GSA has hired Provost & Pritchard Engineering to put together its GSP, but the other two GSAs in the sub basin; Mid Kaweah GSA and the GKGSA have hired GEI Engineering to develop their GSPs and GEI will do the overall coordination. There is a meeting tentatively scheduled for all of the GSAs management to meet and begin working through the nuts and bolts of coordinating the GSPs.

It was asked if GEI is comfortable with the two-year timeline to finish the GSP and Larsen said they think it’s doable but they are concerned about the unknowns since a GSP has never before been written. DWR is coming up with some suggestions but there are still huge swaths of unexplored territory left to navigate. There are many areas that have a well developed AB 3030 groundwater plans and some folks have tried to use them as substitutes. Well, it sounded as best the AB 3030 plans could be mined for data but won’t pass DWR’s scrutiny as meeting the SGMA requirements for a GSP. KDWCD has a series of groundwater studies going back years and that will be of help.

Next on the agenda was a document spelling out the Advisory Committees Scope bylaws. Some highlights were the Stakeholder Advisory Committee will have direct input in outreach to the stakeholders, the ability to weigh in on draft GSP elements, how to implement the process and specific issues requested by the GSA board. There’s also plenty of room to add to the list. Watte said there are still folks out there drilling wells thinking they’re going to be better off after SGMA restrictions are in place. That’s going to be a bummer for the guy drilling and who wants to go out and a bummer for the entity that has to enforce meters or pumping restrictions. Larsen said there are ugly patches in the future but the implementation to arrive at the goal of sustainable groundwater has a 20-year timeline. That’s long enough there will even be a generational change during this time.

During 20-years there will be opportunities to adjust and improve how the goals will be reached. There was a concern from the committee it will be more difficult to “loosen the reins” in the future. What if the gains come at too strong a cost in restrictions? Another issue is the lending situation. Bankers and appraisers are ramping up the water information requirements and even taking Water Education Foundation tours. They want to know what’s happening with water more than ever. One gentleman said he has a friend who owns land on both sides of the Tule River. One part in the Tule GSA and the other in the GKGSA. He’s worried about the Tule GSA having a much lower allowable pumping rate than the GKGSA and will he be able to move pumping allocations from one to the other when the time comes.

The committee next talked about how to fund this beast. The Kings River East GSA has agreed in theory at least, to go with the 218 election method. There wasn’t much traction on this. The GKGSA a SAC meeting in February but the guys at the table want to stay as involved as possible. March is a busy month for growers but not as busy as April. So, it looks like the next SAC meeting will be in March – stay tuned. With that the meeting adjourned.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2018 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.

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 ID, Vice Chair Chris Tantau-Kaweah Delta WCD, Pete Vander Poel-County of Tulare, Ernie Taylor-Kings County WD, Greg Milleman-Cal Water Service, Eric Shannon-St Johns WD, Paul Boyer-Rural Communities Committee, Yet to be decided Stakeholder Committee representative.

Mark Larsen-Secretary, Aubrey Mauritson-Legal Counsel

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