The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Area meeting was held on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at the Kern County Administrative Offices in Bakersfield. This is the first meeting I’ve attended since returning from Louisiana and it was good to see familiar faces. I brought some rain with me. You’re welcome. The KGA GSA kicked off at 8:00 am with a full quorum and approval of the minutes. General Manager Terry Erlewine gave the treasurer’s report and budget update. The board approved. The firms of Provost & Pritchard and GEI have various responsibilities from coordination to technical assistance. Erlewine said it would be possible to spend more than half a million dollars on data management alone but he advised against writing that check until there has been more development on the GSP and coordination plans. He said the other “wild card” will most likely be outreach costs.
There were three new task orders. The first is for GEI to prepare the narrative plan for the GSP and that will cost $110,000. This will include the hydrogeologic conceptual model and groundwater conditions and a sustainable management criteria and monitoring networks. For another $20,000 GEI will provide technical and policy support for KGA. Erlewine said GEI now has former DWR satrap Mark Cowen on its Sacramento payroll and he has leaned on GEI engineer Larry Rodriguez. Now things have progressed to the point the GSA needs further help. P&P needs another $230,000 for continued coordination support, a part-time basin coordinator, a full-time planning manager and a supporting administrative assistance. The board was OK with all of this.
Attorney Valarie Kincaid spoke about activity agreements. She said preparing the GSP doesn’t on the surface appear to fall under the special activity agreement since everyone has to have a GSP. But some of the KGA members aren’t liable for cash and it sounded to me on more of an in-lieu basis. That impacts the JPA language. If the smaller members who are not paying cash are excluded from the special activity agreement and that would exclude them from a vote on the GSP chapters. It was pointed out special activity agreements costs more and require much more paperwork. Dana Munn, GM Shafter Wasco ID said the residents of both of the cities of Shafter and Wasco are already paying assessments to the ID and that cleared things up a bit. At least as for those cities’ fiduciary obligations. Arvin Edison WSD has a similar situation with the Arvin Community Service District. Attorney Ernest Conant said the activity agreement would be governed by the those paying as opposed to the overall GSP. So, as a barnyard attorney I think the deal is this – if the GSP is developed by a special activity those paying get the say so, but under the JPA each member gets a vote. Eric Averett, GM Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD used to run the KGA and did a fine job under trying conditions said there is a provision for this situation built into the JPA. Chairman Dennis Mullins, Wheeler Ridge Maricopa WSD heard from the board and those who spoke up said they like the special activity agreement approach. There is a spread sheet with three or four special activity budgets and one the things I noticed was everyone, regardless of size or water usage is on the hook for an equal amount of money. It could be resolved with a cost per acreage – having the small members (4,000 acres total) will pay the water districts they reside in. Steve Collup, former GM Arvin Edison WSD asked about what would happen to the voting – would be based on the dollars contributed and would there be another seat for each payer? It has been pay to play. Bill Taube, Kern Water Bank moved to have the votes based on acreage. That seemed to work as there were no “no” votes.
Erlewine reported on the accomplishments and forward work plan. He said DWR has recommended the $1.5 million GSP preparation grant for the Kern River sub basin has come through. Patty Poire was hired as the KGA Planning Manager two days ago. There were many other accomplishments listed.
Under new business Gene Lundquist, Kern County Water Agency asked for a list of the coordination committee members. Collup added a list of all committee members for each committee. Mullins said the meetings are open to the public and members can send professional staff. The meetings are at 3:00 pm and held at the Rosedale Rio Bravo offices on the first Monday of the month.
Kincaid said finalizing the policy issues is resulted in a draft distributed to all the attorneys involved for comments. The analysis was based on legal matters and not policy. She said this is a general rules document and not yet binding. So far there has been “high level” general consensus. Matters dealing with hydrological were covered; i.e. water quality, underground flows and such. One item not agreed upon yet is who gets to claim the percolation of surface water. She said the process going forward is a redraft of issue and another two-week comment period will help resolve things. Mullins said he hopes to see this finalized by the next meeting and the meeting adjourned.
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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.
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.
The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:
Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Cawelo Water District, City of Shafter, Kern County Water Agency, County of Kern, 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