By Don A. Wright
The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, December 14, 2022 board of directors meeting somewhere in Bakersfield and on Zoom. This is liable to be the last KGA meeting of the year. Christmas Eve is a week from this Saturday. Does that send a chill up your “only X shopping days left” spine? There won’t be many meetings next week and it used to be a week I looked forward to work wise. I also used to look forward to Mondays. Monday is a good day to start over and get it right for the coming week. Kind of like a New Year’s resolution 52 times which I need because by Friday do overs are in order. The week before Christmas was a like a five-day Monday where I got caught up from all the stuff I didn’t get done over the year so I could relax and enjoy the time with family.
When I began covering agriculture a while ago, many districts would completely close between Christmas and New Year’s. And for many practical reasons the week before and the week after. Harvest is over, planting hasn’t begun. There’s some pruning going on. I always think of my friends the Pena family. Arturo and his wife immigrated from Nuevo Leon to Parlier and later bought a home and raised a family in Kingsburg. There were six sons and two daughters. Over the Christmas break everyone worked. The boys joined their father in the vineyards pruning and I’m guessing daughters joined Senora Pena making tamales. Even as adults the sons of Arturo Pena would still join their father and prune the grape vines during Christmas time. After which they’d come back to their childhood home and enjoy tamales.
Things got rolling quickly at 8:00am when Chairman Dan Waterhouse called the meeting to order with a salute to the flag of our great nation, approval of the minutes and a publicly expressed desire for all to have a peaceful Christmas. Marinelle Duarosan gave the treasurer’s report and it was approved.
Valerie Kincade said the Central Valley Regional Board passed a Racial Equity resolution and it goes further than the State Board’s similar action. The Regional Board’s resolution includes immediate action and will require new applications to include an environmental justice component. More water quality enforcement based on EJ and a tribal beneficial use program are baked in. The unelected bureaucrats of the State of California are highly susceptible to special interest ideology. They have a tremendous amount of power. There was also a public trust lawsuit filed on the Kern River as well as the Merced River and other locations.
Director Gene Lundquist asked if KGA should object, comment or is the resolution a done deal? Kincade said as the process derived from this resolution begins to be implemented there certainly needs to be a hard look at it. I’m not writing this to butter up Mrs. Kincade or degrade her colleagues in the legal profession, but it’s a fact – I learn as much from her reports as I do from just about all the other attorney reports put together when it comes to authoritarian and Marxist creep combined with mission drift by the government. And I hear it from her first.
Executive Director’s Report
Patty Poire said the South of Kern River GSA, which used to be part of the KGA, requested a budget to actual expense reconciliation. That somehow supercharged a discussion about cash calls. I suspect if the KGA was sending a bill to me I would have understood this situation better. But I did hear Poire say things like she doesn’t want to make these cash calls too soon as she doesn’t want to sit on the members’ money. Which strikes me as a good thing. But on the other hand there are some advantages to making smaller more frequent cash calls and let the unspent funds carry over. Provost & Pritchard bills the KGA for many services and I believe that engineering firm is one of the bigger NGO expenses. See what I did there? Called P&P an NGO. I’m wondering if it is possible to be an NGO without being a woke nonprofit soaking their panties in gasoline every morning and running around daring others to strike a match. Anyway, the board decided to have the first cash call in January and the second call in June. The board also approved the 2023 budget. Waterhouse suggested there be more budget to actual comparison in the coming year.
Poire reported some stakeholders’ meetings will start up again in January now that the plan is coming into focus. She’s also met with members of the oil industry and looking at subsidence.
There was no new business and beware, the State Board has new groundwater quality guidelines in the works. I believe these are listed somewhere in the downloadable KGA board packet.
There was one case of potential litigation listed on the agenda, but it must not have been imminent as Waterhouse gave everyone the day off and there was no closed session. So that was it for the KGA at 8:44am. Peace on Earth.
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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:
Chair Dan Waterhouse – Semitropic WSD, Vice Chair Brandon Morris – Southern San Joaquin MUD, John Gaugel – Cawelo WD, Royce Fast – Kern County WA, Andrew Pandol – Kern Tulare WD, Kim Brown – Kern Water Bank Authority, Kevin Andrew – North Kern WSD, Gary Unruh – Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD, Randy Bloemhof – Shafter Wasco ID, Gary Morris – West Kern WD & Rob Goff – Westside District Water Authority.
DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kern 5-022.14