The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its board of directors meeting at its Farmersville headquarters and GoToMeetings on Tuesday, October 4, 2022. The meeting is scheduled to start at 9:00am but at 8:56am there was no one logged on but me. Since this isn’t Zoom it made me uncomfortable that the link was correct but I called and they said they just haven’t logged on yet. At 8:58am I’m typing this. That’s really cutting it close. At 9:02am the video began without audio until 9:05am.
Chairman Don Mills called the meeting to order at 9:05am and the roll call showed a full board. There was no public comment or announcements and General Manager Mark Larsen got right with it. The consent calendar passed and the Kaweah St. Johns River Association representatives were reappointed. The fees Kaweah Delta charges KSJRA for administrative support are based on water supply and if I understand the costs are down this year.
Kaweah Delta also charges a management fee for the Eagle Creek Renewable Energy project. Larsen said this has been a very good arrangement for both entities. He said he doesn’t spend much time on the situation during dry years like this.
Watermaster Vic Hernandez reported on the summation of the just ended water year. We started out great with heavy rain and snow in December then fizzled. I’m telling you, that often happens. You start out wet in the fall and early winter and the late winter and spring rain is many times a dud.
Hernandez said the next three months are looking dry with an El Nino condition until at least the end of the year. There have been rain events that have helped keep Lake Kaweah up from dead pool so far. The reservoir has dropped to 8,000 a/f in the past.
Engineer Dennis Keller said the San Joaquin River is stable and it will take a bit of time to link back up with the Merced River. The federal Jones Pumping Plant is running at two units. There has been some releases for water quality and a bit of rain would provide some relief for that condition.
Everyone complains but nobody does anything about it. I don’t recall if that was Will Rogers or Mark Twain but Kaweah Delta is doing something about it by contracting with RHS Consulting to seed clouds. The costs of fuel and pilot time have gone up. RHS uses an older aircraft that deices easier and saves time and money as the pilot doesn’t have to drop altitude as often. There are flares used and the costs have gone up for them as well. It cost $750 per hour of flight time but that is going up to $1,200 per hour. Nonetheless Larsen said this is still providing a very cost effective source of extra water. There is a monthly fixed cost as well. Larsen said RHS is constantly upgrading, refining and improving his technic. The board felt the increase was well worth it.
Next Larsen reported the Friant Kern Canal repairs are coming along and well managed. Director Chris Tantau said there has been a big push especially near Terra Bella at the Tulare County line. Tantau represents Kaweah Delta on the Friant Water Authority board.
Larsen said Friant is also looking at other improvements needed on the FKC as there are more demands for recharge and related supplies. Keller said there were a bunch of folks from Friant and other western water concerns in Washington DC this past week and were well received. He said they met with Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy and got a chance to pitch for US Bureau of Reclamation funding. Larsen said there are funds coming from Friant contractors and impacted GSAs in the area. There was another $60 million recently received from the state. State Senator Melissa Hurtado did some heavy lifting to get hundreds of millions of dollars from her bill SB 559.
Keller reported he expects to run the system on a trial bases before the end of the week. He said it will take at least two or three hours to divert enough Kaweah Delta water to test the full course. He put some slides up on the screen some of the construction progress. It’s a very interesting build where the two 72” pipes coming from the Friant Kern Canal. It looks like an ancient sacrificial site or the Four Corners Monument where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico all meet. The meters will be installed on the Friant side by tomorrow evening. Larsen pointed out the improvements will help with flood control from the foothill rains.
Keller spoke about the considerations of dewatering the Friant Kern Canal and rewatering it. The FKC is lined with concrete panels and if the water levels are altered too swiftly the panels can actually pop-out and become loose.
Nicholas Construction was due another payment for work done on the Hannah Ranch, about $157,000. The board approved.
Greater Kaweah GSA
GKGSA General Manager Eric Osterling called in because he was sick – we pray for his rapid recovery. He reported on the penalty costs adopted for using more than the allocated amounts. There is a workshop on October 12th 4-6pm at the International Ag Expo Center. There will also be an online meeting. The Dashboard is moving along and there is an effort to get everyone enrolled. Half of the GSA land is already participating.
Osterling reported the GSP rewrite was turned in on time but he’s not waiting to get things going. There has been some progress in getting direct support from DWR in the form of monitoring wells. Two implementation grants are in the works. The latest contract is being refined. The planning grant scope of work has shifted. Video monitoring has not been possible in this dry year as wells are pumping.
There were only two items on closed session – potential litigation. The next scheduled meeting is November 1st and that was that as of 10:00am on the dot.
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Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District
2975 N. Farmersville Blvd.
Farmersville, California 93223 559/747-5601
KDWCD is part or the Greater Kaweah GSA DWR #5-022.11
Board of Directors
Don Mills – President, Chris Tantau – Vice-President, Ron Clark, Jimi Valov, Jeff Ritchie, Mike Chrisman & Brian Watte
Mark Larsen, General Manager – email@example.com
Terry Stafford, Facilities Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Vierra, Administrative/HR Coordinator – email@example.com
Larry Dotson, Senior Engineer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Shane Smith, Projects/Administrative Manager – email@example.com
Office and Field Staff
Water Master – Victor Hernandez, Office Assistant – Kathleen Halvorsen
Primary ConsultantsDennis Keller – Civil Engineer (Keller/Wegley Consulting Engineers), Aubrey Mauritson – Attorney (Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler, LLP)
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.