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Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District September 4, 2018

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The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at its Farmersville headquarters. Chairman Don Mills called the meeting to order at 9:00 am. There was the usual house keeping items such as public comment and consent calendar reports. There was no public comment I am aware of and the consent calendar was approved. The consent calendar is a pretty good invention. Instead of taking time in the meeting to present the board with all the consistent minutia of month by month operations all these items can be place on the consent calendar and approved in lump. A director can pull and item from the calendar and discuss it individually if they wanted to. So, nothing automatically gets swept under the rug by placing it on consent calendar but the mundane item also doesn’t bog things down.

The NASA Airborne Snow Observatory was next and there is an option available to KDWCD to participate. General Manager Mark Larsen asked the board to approve a contract to participate. The Friant Water Authority is all in for this. The goal is to show the State of California the value of ASO so it will pick up some of the funding. It costs about $700,000 per year to highly accurate data on the snow pack. Mills said he was the biggest sceptic and now likes the concept. Director Chris Tantau represents Kaweah Delta on the FWA board. He said he’ll be meeting with NASA representatives and others in Mammoth soon to look this over. Kaweah Delta would only have to pay for the Kaweah River watershed portion and that made things affordable enough for the board to agree to enter into a contract to join this effort.

Engineer Dennis Keller reported the Secretary of Interior and the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Commissioner have weighed in on the Cooperative Operating Agreement between the feds and the State of California. This got the Natural Resource Defense Council’s undies in a bunch, but as Keller said the COA is an agreement from 1986 that was supposed to be revisited every five years since. There was a story from a certain publication from the Delta area that portrayed this as some kind of sneak attack by the evil Trump Administration. However, if you ask a Central Valley Project contractor they’ll tell you the COA is lopsided in favor of the state. The COA is the procedural guideline that determines who gets to pump how much water into San Luis Reservoir.

Keller also spoke about Temperance Flat and how that project is transitioning from the JPA that pushed the Prop One application and the newer MOU investors group. Westside interests are participating but how much to what end is still being worked out. It’s still a little early to see where this will go. Tulare Irrigation District General Manager Aaron Fukuda has been given the reins to this new organization. He said he’s been inspired by the High Speed Rail model of project development. Let me be clear – he was only kidding.

The Friant Kern Canal subsidence has been studied by Stantec Engineering. Larsen showed slides of Stantec’s presentation about how to fix the problem. I hope to secure; i.e. get my hands on these slides. They paint an understandable, fairly complete picture of the options available to fix one of the biggest problems in the San Joaquin Valley. I’ve had the pleasure to tour this area with Friant’s COO Doug DeFlitch and with all the speed of a herd of turtles harvesting Canadian molasses* in January a special report on this subject is being prepared.

KDWCD is very involved in recharge basins, the Oakes, Paregien and Hannah Ranch Basins are all in various stages of construction or development. Keller is the ramrod on these projects. Not that I know what I’m talking about but I suspect if all the district were water conservation districts SGMA was be easier. Kaweah Delta has been very proactive about groundwater.

Engineer Larry Dotson next spoke about a bifurcation on the head gate at Johnson Slough. This would be a cost sharing project. If I understand the head gate is now check boards and there is a lot of sedimentation taking place. The current system doesn’t allow for the flexibility of recharge and flood control. The new structure would cost an estimated $505,000 to be split 25 percent KDWCD and 75 percent by the impacted ditch companies. The recharge rate is very high, it was called a sand pit.

There are continuing plans for the Lake Kaweah enlargement. There is a cattle ranch being used for mitigation, if I understood. The corrals are in bad shape; which shouldn’t be much of a surprise since they are the original corrals from the original homesteads in the area. Keller was explaining this and I got lost. The Army Corps of Engineers and the price of cattle and the desire of folks to have a working cattle ranch combined somehow churn out a formula to set the price of leasing the easement on the ranch so the lake can be enlarged. In any event, Larsen said he’d consulted with attorney Aubrey Mauritson and the way the lease is worded is OK. The board agreed in the word of Mills to continue the confusion with the ACE.

SGMA was next and GM Eric Osterling wasn’t available today as he was somewhere doing the Lord’s work of getting farmers water. Larsen reported the issue of seepage allocation sub basin wide is being discussed. He said data has been slow in coming and that complicates things as well as puts the Kaweah Sub Basin behind schedule. Mills said folks knew three years ago there wasn’t enough hydro geologists to go around.

Larsen gave a legislative update and said Prop Three, the big water bond is getting good traction. He said Friant has been working hard to get support for passage. SB 1844 and 1845 are bills taking up the fertilizer tax efforts and the drinking water tax efforts. The water tax has not been popular with urban suppliers and ACWA has been working overtime to kills this. There is an interesting provision that allows drinking water rate payers to opt out of the tax if they check a box on their bills. I hope that is a trend that lives long and prospers.

The next  meeting will be October 2nd and the meeting then went into closed session.

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Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District

2975 N. Farmersville Blvd. Farmersville, California 93223            559/747-5601


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.