The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its Tuesday, August 7, 2018 board of directors meeting at its Farmersville headquarters. Chairman Don Mills called the meeting at 9 am. After the consent calendar and the usual meeting housekeeping General Manager Mark Larsen showed us a video of the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory. It was a You Tube video, so you can watch it as well. It’s a bout eight minutes long and very interesting. It’s an expensive service.
The Kaweah River watershed would benefit from more accurate snow and therefore water forecasts. By itself the Kaweah would cost close to $500,000 for just four flights; but if enough parties joined together the entire state could get the benefits for $15 million. Larsen said one big benefit is the NASA ASO program can capture data from elevations much higher than the current snow sensor technology currently utilized.
Larsen said most water managers are turned on by the benefits and turned off by the cost so Friant and others are urging a comprehensive program. The funding isn’t known but as Director Stan Gomes said if this does what it claims the program will soon pay for itself. It’s a wonder at to the amount of interest the State Board is showing to this. The US Bureau of Reclamation has seriously adjusted its numbers based on the ASO. The folks who actually gather the data from the snow sensors are in favor of the program as it is much safer. No avalanches. Engineer Dennis Keller said the ASO doesn’t give water content. Director Chris Tantau said participation is expensive but there are benefits. He said last year there were four or five flights and they timed it to the DWR announcements. There are at least six watersheds interested and NASA is looking to get contracts signed sooner than later. Keller said when comparing the Kaweah to the San Joaquin River watershed operations and water rights – it’s apple and oranges. Mills said a big consideration is; will the Army Corps of Engineers use this data for flood control purposes. Lake Success’s dam was raised, I think by 40,000 a/f worth of new space but the Corps is only allowing another 9-12,000 a/f of carryover. If KDWCD were to spend a large amount of money on this the Corps best play along. The board directed staff to proceed with finding out more.
Next Keller said the temperature conditions at Folsom is running higher than normal and that may impact releases. The water too hot for steelhead fish. Larsen spoke about the Friant Water Authority and said there may well be a budget increase for FWA. There is a MOA out that includes FWA to come up with a new JPA to support and further the Temperance Flat Dam project. The engineering firm Stantec is working on the subsidence problem on the Friant Kern Canal that has limited the canal’s capacity dramatically. There are three or four alternatives to fixing this problem and they will be presented to the Friant board at October’s meeting. As for Temperance Flat Keller reported the $8.9 million of early funding was denied by the California Water Commission. That wasn’t expected and it’s a shame because the money was pretty much free of strings. Stantec Engineering is very involved in Temp Flat. The modeling by Stantec will play a big part in how this shapes up. As Larsen said everyone has to input their Christmas list and find out how much it costs. Keller said there will be a struggle to demonstrate what sizes other than the current Temp Flat would also work. He said $3,280 per acre foot was one cost considered.
The KDWCD basin projects were next. Keller said the Hannah Ranch Project now has a preliminary design for Hannah Dam. If I understood correctly there is only a two feet head needed to service the entire project. There are still permits needed from the Army Corps of Engineers so there are more completed plans to finish first. So far almost half a million cubic feet have been excavated. Larsen said the project has been going through the water for dust suppression. He said the Challenger tractors have held up much better in these conditions. Mills said the company supplying the diesel fuel hopes this project never ends. It was reported the Terminus Power Project is running fine.
The next item was the Greater Kaweah GSA report and Larsen said he didn’t know what was going on. Eric Osterling gave the report. He said he’s getting set up at the headquarters as for office space. He’s learning the area and praised Kaweah Delta staff their help. Larsen said an agreement between the GKGSA and the KDWCD has been drafted by himself, Osterling and attorney Aubrey Mauritson. Osterling will be an employee of KDWCD but paid for and managed by the GKGSA. KDWCD will provide assisting staff support and be reimbursed by the GKGSA. There were other considerations listed but the document was only two pages long. That impressed the heck out of the board.
Larsen told the board it may be possible to extend the recharge capacity of one of the basins being developed. I’m sorry I didn’t get the name of the project and it’s not listed on the agenda. It appears grants are available. He said the grant is one of the nice ones where the project is reviewed before the entire application must be completed. This will also qualify for full funding. Other news; there is a piece of property shaped like a shark’s fin owned by Granville Home; Larsen said he’ll be talking with Granville since he has time to work on district matters now that Osterling is taking care of the GSA. The next KDWCD meeting will be September 4th and the meeting went into closed session.
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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/Wordsmith
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.