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Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District July 3, 2018



The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its Tuesday, July 3, 2018 board meeting at its Farmersville headquarters. I often run into folks I see at work at the store or a gas station or such. So far every general manager, assistant manager or district engineer or attorney have all told me they are now spending at least half their time on SGMA. It makes me wonder how much the legislators would like it if they had to spend half their time trying to prevent most of their constituents from loosing a big chunk of their income.

Chairman Don Mills called the meeting at 9:00am and General Manager Mark Larsen said directors Ritchie, Watte and Gomes are up for reelection. He also said former Exeter ID GM Dale Sally died yesterday. Sally had a great deal of influence in this area’s ability to get water to growers. That’s a good legacy to leave.

Water Master Vick Hernandez said it really has been as bad a year as it could have been. KDWCD has been able to make above $600,000 in sales this year and has had more than 200,000 a/f to deliver. He said the volume of water on the lower Kaweah River yielded a record number cubic feet per second. Larsen said both local papers contacted him to ask what KDWCD’s responsibility to rafters. He told the reporters the district has no responsibility; these are natural and some man made channels not designed for recreation. It’s always a tragedy when someone looses their life rafting but that is not the district’s job to prevent them from going into the water.

Larsen said Jeff Payne from Friant Water Authority contacted him and Director Chris Tantau about the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory. For a mere $135,000 NASA will fly over the Kaweah River Watershed at the end of this summer and establish a “no snow” base. Including the Kaweah in the ASO would be an advantage since they’re flying anyway. Funding is the big question. It costs half a million dollars for four flights per year for the Kaweah watershed. Costs to the Kings River watershed would be about the same. Tantau said there might be some funding and if it comes down to it having accurate flood flows could save a lot of money, pay for itself even. Engineer Dennis Keller said the flights can’t determine water content; that has to be verified and validated on the ground. He asked if the park service will allow folks back to the wilderness and check the snow. Crazy. Keller did say it would be good to get the bare earth readings in any event. Mills said the amount of money being thrown at climate change might have some extra for this. Keller said the climate change costs are more staff oriented than flying Lear jets. Tantau said Payne mentioned some funding questions about whether the jurisdiction falls with the US Bureau of Reclamation or the Army Corps of Engineers. A lot of that has to do with flood releases. He said the Bureau is watching this closely.

Larsen reported the engineering firm Stantec has been hired by FWA to work on fixing the subsidence issues on the Friant Kern Canal. FWA released its 2019-20 O&M Budget for review. Tantau said FWA is still working on keeping investor momentum going on the Temperance Flat Dam project. Keller said models are being run but they need some fine tuning. He’s having talks with Stantec about this. Some models show a cost of more than $2,000 a/f; therefore the need to expand the variables inputted in the model. Without the Prop One strings attached that price could drop dramatically. There are storage only options and other options. Tantau asked Keller if he sees the white areas investing. Conveyance is the consideration. The white areas will have to wait for FKC capacity to free up and how much evaporation loss would that entail? And still, how do you get the water from the canal to the farm? Larsen said he hasn’t heard anything about Friant contractors trying to become water brokers.

Larsen then spoke about the Water Supply & Quality Act of 2018. He said it has a great deal of benefits for the Valley. This is the one with the $750 million for fixing the FKC being pushed by Dr. Gerry Meral. He asked the board to pass a resolution of support for the bond. The board did so.

Keller said he’s got five subpoenas for depositions on the Oakes Basin project. Tantau asked if you could see that face on a wanted poster. I wasn’t sure exactly what was the issue there but it sounded serious enough to where Mills advised Keller to get a better class of client. The Hannah Ranch Project is the big one. Larsen said keeping the equipment running has necessitated hiring an equipment operator. Terry Stafford said the Terminus Power Plant is running fine, producing juice.

Larsen reported on the Greater Kaweah GSA saying underground flows and seepage are being considered. Sustainability criteria is also being looked at in order to develop milestones for the Kaweah watershed. A GKGSA technical advisory committee meeting needs to be scheduled. On July 17th Eric Osterling will take over as the GKGSA’s new executive officer. They are doing a bit of remodeling with lead, bullet proof glass, Kevlar and other special needs for Osterling’s office.

Larsen said the Army Corps is asking for easement on the Lake Kaweah enlargement project that is under KDWCD’s ownership. The Corps been making noise so he and attorney Aubrey Mauritson have been looking at a way to accommodate this needless request.

The next meeting will be August 7th and the meeting went into closed session.



DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; strives to provide his clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

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.

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


Mark Larsen, General Manager –

Terry Stafford, Facilities Manager

Dian Rader, Administrative/HR Coordinator –

Larry Dotson, Senior Engineer –

Shane Smith, Projects/Administrative Manager –

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

Primary Consultants

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.


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