The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its Tuesday, April 3, 2018 board of directors meeting at its Farmersville headquarters. The weather is warming up this week and we might have some more rain by the weekend. The Clovis Rodeo is coming up, April 26th – 29th. It used to just be the last Saturday and Sunday of April but it’s grown. It was the highlight of the year for my friends and I growing up. Back in the 8th grade there was only a thin, chain link fence between Clark Junior High and the rodeo grounds. We’d stand there watching them unload the livestock and dream of riding bulls and broncs. Looking back I guess the teachers knew we were ruined for the rest of the week. Then next year we were in high school and could ride our horses instead of the bus. I had PE first period and instead of turning Snooze, my buckskin, out in the corral at the Clovis High ag farm we’d play flag football. They’d attach the flags to the D-rings on the back cinch of my saddle, the quarterback would hand me the ball and off we galloped to a certain touchdown. Can you imagine a PE coach allowing such a thing today?
Chairman Don Mills called the meeting to order a little after 9:00 am. It would have been 9:00 on the dot but I was yacking with one of the directors and they couldn’t get a quorum. There was no public comment and the consent calendar was passed.
The water supply report was the first big deal of the day. Water Master Vick Hernandez had more optimism due to the recent storms. They’re expecting at least a 50 percent year on the Kaweah River. Engineer Dennis Keller said there is a storm coming in this weekend and the National Weather Service is calling for 100 percent chance of rain and snow.
General Manager Mark Larsen had Keller talk about the Central Valley Project. Keller said there could be a 215 release (uncontrolled season) this weekend and a chance of losing carryover at Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River. Key to this is the temperatures in the mountains. If it warms up too quick the Class One supplies could melt. Keller also said there isn’t much demand on the citrus belt. Director Chris Tantau said he believes if it comes down to losing the Class One the growers are going to take the water. Larsen said the board needed to ratify the contract with the US Bureau of Reclamation for restoration flows and the board did so.
Larsen next spoke about the Friant Water Authority and said the recent Friant annual meeting was pretty successful. The speakers were well chosen and the Q&A time was ample. Tantau went back to Washington DC and reported a legislative fix for anything is further down the road than anyone would like. Tantau said the Friant meeting was good but sad. He said before the water supply and conveyance situation in the Valley can be fixed there will most likely be fallowing.
Keller reported on the Temperance Flat situation. He said the California Water Commission is still re-scoring the public benefit ratio of the surface project applications for Prop One money. He said one of the 11 applicants didn’t respond to the recent appeals review properly and has dropped out of that race. He reported the JPA formed to help promote Temp Flat, the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority is getting some push back on how to handle operations. Stantec Engineers will be meeting with the other Temp Flat group, a MOU of investors, to discuss the costs of building the dam. Something one would think could be relatively up front. I don’t know, I’ve never tried to build a dam, but I’ve done some construction – you can estimate costs of material and labor. So, it’ll be interesting.
Larsen spoke about the FWA taking title of the Friant Kern Canal. It looks like a good idea but just to be safe FWA CEO has requested member agencies to comment and give feedback. Tantau represents the KDWCD on the Friant board. He said one thing to consider is a scenario like the High Speed Rail. When HSR runs into the FKC it has to deal with the Bureau. It’s nice to have a big gorilla in the fight. He referred further comments on this matter to Keller. Keller said there are many perspectives to consider when trying to put this deal together. He said the legislation allowing this transfer was never meant to include as large a project as the FKC. It was designed to facilitate transfer of infrastructure such as the canal system at Exeter Irrigation District once EID pays off its debt to the taxpayer.
The board then addressed three basin lease agreements: Road 68, Russell Pond and the East Extension Basins. As of now the agreements between the KDWCD and the land owners have been by handshake. The board was asked to approved formal lease agreements and it did so. In related news Cal Trans has denied KDWCD’s request for an easement on the Paregien Basin Project. Cal Trans wanted a “back-water-curve” rate study and Keller said the project is adding lined canal banks on the downstream side of Highway 198. There is rip-rap coming from the culvert and Keller said he doesn’t want to spend more of the district’s money on engineering studies than the cost of construction. Attorney Aubrey Mauritson is now involved. Too bad for you Cal Trans guys.
The Hannah Ranch Basin project is a biggy. Lots of dirt to be moved resulting in equipment and labor costs that need to be monitored so it doesn’t get too expensive. Larsen said a process is being developed to keep things accurate and timely. Summer’s Engineering was hired to help out.
Larsen spoke about the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency. He said all three of the GSAs in the Kaweah Sub Basin are interested in the airborne magnetic imaging. There is still an agreement for cost sharing to be worked out. Mills was concerned the data obtained could be used by the state to harm the area. Isn’t that sad? Sad the legislature and bureaucracy of the greatest ag producing place on earth has become the single, biggest obstacle to trust. California is a great state but its government is out of control. Anyway, Larsen said the initial cache of applications for a permanent GM for the GKGSA is ready to interview. There’s almost 20 applications turned in. Larsen said there wasn’t many local applicants but the deadline hasn’t closed yet. Also, in developing the GSP there is a lot of discussion about what time period needs to be used. Mills asked Keller to comment and Keller said you have to look at not only the hydrologic side but also the demand side. Changes in crops, the CVPIA’s legacy of unsure Delta deliveries and many other variables. Certainly snowmelt and rain is important but demand is also a very important input to determine the base line.
The next KDWCD meeting is May 1st. The meeting then went into closed session for three pieces of legal wrangling.
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Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District
2975 N. Farmersville Blvd.
Farmersville, California 93223
Board of Directors
Don Mills – President, Chris Tantau – Vice-President, Ron Clark, Stan Gomes, Jeff Ritchie, Mike Shannon & Brian Watte
Office and Field Staff
Chemical Applicator/Equipment Operator – Jim Mudford
Equipment Operators – Jesus Sandoval, Chris Bell & Tommy Crosswy
Equipment Operator/Mechanic – Ryon Van Essen
Hydrographer/River Operator – Jose Rivas & Rick Avila
Water Master – Victor Hernandez
Senior Equipment Operator – Tom Dilbeck & Doyle Pettyjohn
Accountant – Shelly Heier
Administrative Assistant – Kim Hollis
Board Coordinator – Anita Wilson
Office Assistant – Kathleen Halvorsen
Engineering Technician – Matthew Jacobus
Bruce George – Special Projects Consultant
Dennis Keller – Civil Engineer (Keller/Wegley Consulting Engineers)
Aubrey Mauritson – Attorney (Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler, LLP)
Richard “Dick” Moss – Civil Engineer (Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group)
Shelley Orth – Editor/Wordsmit
From the Kaweah Delta website:
The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD) was formed in 1927, under the provisions of California state law known as the Water Conservation Act of 1927, for the purpose of conserving and storing waters of the Kaweah River and for conserving and protecting the underground waters of the Kaweah Delta. Later the Water Conservation Act, as well as the purpose of the District, was expanded to include power generation and distribution.
The District is located in the south-central portion of the San Joaquin Valley and lies in portions of both Tulare and Kings Counties. The total area of the District is about 340,000 acres with approximately 255,000 acres located in the western portion of Tulare County and the balance, or 85,000 acres, in the northeastern portion of the Kings County.
The Districts lands are primarily agricultural in nature, although the cities of Visalia and Tulare constitute significant areas of urbanization. Farmersville is the other incorporated area. The population of the District is currently estimated to be in excess of 175,000 people with the principle crops being cotton, misc. field crops, deciduous fruit and nut trees as well as alfalfa.
Numerous public and private entities within the District’s boundaries divert water from the Kaweah River and its distributaries. Nearly all of the lands served with Kaweah River water also are served irrigation water from groundwater, primarily due to the erratic and relatively undependable nature of flow on the Kaweah River. All municipal and industrial water uses within the District are supplied from groundwater.
KDWCD and Tulare Irrigation District (TID), which lies entirely within the boundaries of the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, has a long-term contract with the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) for water from the Friant Division of the CVP. TID has historically received substantial quantities of CVP water surplus to the demands of the District which augment the Kaweah River supply.
The District and the Kaweah River groundwater basin have experienced long-term groundwater overdraft estimated in 2007 to be as much as 40,000 acre-feet per year. The District has performed multiple studies of groundwater data to determine the extent and volume of groundwater overdraft within its boundaries. There are currently over 40 recharge basins within the District covering approximately 5,000 acres. While KDWCD owns and operates many of these groundwater recharge basins, it does not provide water banking services for others.