The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, April 28, 2021 board of directors meeting remotely from Bakersfield on Zoom. Chairman Dan Waterhouse called the meeting to order at 8:00am. The first order of business was to have Executive Director Patty Poire call roll. There was a quorum but a couple of folks were missing from what I could tell. There were 62 other guests tuning in. Public comment was next but there were no takers. The minutes were approved and Marinelle Duarosan of North Kern Water Storage District gave the treasurers report and the board approved which included paying the bills.
Valarie Kincaid gave her report saying on April 6th the State Board sent out a $2 million Request For Proposal for someone to help them with technical help in evaluating Groundwater Sustainability Plans. She spoke with DWR about the GSP reviews. She said the government is taking a cautious approach and the first plan review could be completed as early as June. It sounded like the low hanging fruit will be reviewed first, the GSPs from subbasins with only one GSA. There was some discussion about the newness and complexity of GSPs.
As an attorney with the GSA’s back she was interested in knowing about how DWR will handle challenges to GSPs. She said she asked if a plan is challenged or determined to be incomplete will there be the opportunity for the GSAs to update the plans? Kincaid said if there is a problem that needs addressing it will take a very nimble team to adjust the technical and policy within the term allowed. I think that deadline’s 180 days. She said if a proposed project isn’t clear enough in the GSP for DWR to understand, if the necessary funding or on the ground conditions that would trigger the project aren’t clear that may need further study and an explanation developed. Not every project is a “shovel ready” project. It could be a “shoveling paperwork ready” project. It sounded to me like the KGA GSP won’t be one of the first reviewed and that will give the GSA a heads up of how DWR will rate other plans.
Ex D Report
Poire gave her report starting with the disbursement of Prop One Grant funds. It was very difficult to hear her and there was static on the line, so this might be a bit sketchy. Whatever she said about the disbursement met the pleasure of the board as they approved.
The topic of the next item was the proposal by GEI Engineering to develop a Data Management System for the Kern Subbasin. Poire said the initial cost is $90,000 and there is more grant money available to pay for tweaking the system. She said the strategy is to have GEI upload and prepare the DMS and that will take about 30-45 days to have all the current data entered and the system working. There is a July 1st deadline to have seasonal data uploaded for DWR. This will give the locals a chance to become familiar with the DMS. She said seasonal data is very important as this is how the annual report is developed. In fact she said the goal is to have the DMS pretty much generate the annual report.
Poire thinks this DMS will be valuable in providing much needed information. There will also have to be stakeholder and landholder outreach to make this as complete as possible. This should help with transparency and involvement by the stakeholders. Waterhouse said each GSA will have an access code and there needs to be an agreement by how much data is accessible and by who. The board approved moving ahead with the GEI proposal to make the DMS happen.
Poire updated the board on the annual report. She said it was submitted by the April 1st deadline. She found out any wells reported must stay on the report but as some of them have been abandoned KGS won’t have to provide data on those abandoned wells from now on. She said this is the first complete annual report since SGMA has become law. Last year’s report was only from January to April. She said these annual reports are helpful in tracking progress to set goals. The board packet includes highlights from the Todd Groundwater Modeling reports. Packets can be downloaded from the KGA website. Looking at it there are pages and pages of hydrographs but it appeared to me the Kern Subbasin withdrew 400,000 a/f more than surface water that came into the subbasin. That sounded like a lot but it’s an improvement and on target to the long term goal, if I understood correctly – and I think I did so.
The audio quality continued to degrade and a caller asked for others to please mute but things got worse. For instance you could hear others in the room speak but you can’t understand them. So you have guess if they are asking questions or making statements based on what Poire said and that was if you could understand her. It sounded like the native water issue is still being developed and Poire said if the landowners aren’t engaged to a great deal it’s going to be a mess.
Waterhouse asked if DWR finds the GSP incomplete how is that dealt with. Kincaid said if there is a problem the GSA has 180 days to correct it, not 180 days to make a plan to correct it. That will take some intense work from the management to meet that deadline. The next item was Poire’s report on accomplishments and a forward work plan.
Waterhouse mentioned grants can slowdown work because of funding and the timing of awards. Kincaid said the recent implementation grant round hit some bumps as many of the proposed projects didn’t have the new requirements addressed. She said DWR was aware of this and is willing to adapt.
The directors forum was next but had nothing. There was some correspondence from the City of Shafter giving notice it’s preparing its 2020 Urban Water Management Plan. That will be noted and filed. The meeting then went into closed session at 8:55am for two potential litigation matters. And that was that.
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SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
Staff: Patty Poire – Executive Director, Valerie Kincade – Attorney, Marinelle Duarosan – Treasurer
The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:
Chairman: Dan Waterhouse.
Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Cawelo Water District, City of Shafter, Kern County Water Agency, Kern-Tulare Water District, Kern Water Bank Authority, North Kern Water Storage District, Olcese Water District, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Semitropic Water Storage District, Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District, Tejon-Castaic Water District, West Kern Water District, Westside District Water Authority & Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District
DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kern 5-022.14