Roscoe Moss Company

Kern Groundwater Authority GSA January 24, 2024

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By Don A. Wright

The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, January 24, 2024 board of directors meeting in Bakersfield at the new Farm Bureau offices. I initially write my reports in Word (so the red and blue squiggly lines can help me stay at least partially on track.) I also like to use a drop cap in the first sentence. I used to regularly employ the typographical arts in my work at newspapers and I think drop caps look classy. In order for this layout to look proper there must be enough lines in the paragraph to provide it balance. Otherwise, you get a big capital letter with its butt hanging out in space. On occasion I expand the first paragraph with a rambling stream of conscience to pad the word count. Wish I had an example to show you. Also, this is the first meeting since Executive Director Patty Poire retired from the position. Many of her duties have been taken up by attorney Valarie Kincaid.

The Meeting

Chairman Dan Waterhouse called things to order at 8:00am. Kincaid took over the duties of Poire in announcing the agenda items. Things began with a flag salute to the greatest nation on earth and there was no public comment. The minutes were approved and Kincaid gave the financial report. The financial report and payment of the bills were approved.

Attorney’s Report

Kincaid began with an update on SGMA. She said on December 19, 2023 the State Water Resources Control Board held a workshop where it presented a revised schedule for probation hearings. The Tulare Lake Subbasin hearing will still be April 16th, and the Kern Subbasin will be in January 2025.

Kincaid said the subbasins were told to give the State Board an acceptable Groundwater Sustainability Plan rewrite for review. State Board staff said it needs three months for a review of a conglomerate GSP with one extra month per GSA within the subbasin. Staff also said they interpret SGMA as not allowing any good actor provisions without an approved GSP. Kincaid said that may or may not fly under the law, the State Board directors or the courts. She said there was some very robust commenting on this matter. The State Board directors did make it clear this was only staff opinion and it hasn’t made a determination as yet. Having a good actor clause is important but everyone understands several fragmented GSPs isn’t good either.

Lidco Inc.

Assembly Bill 828 is still chugging along and it not only diminishes the authority of GSAs while increasing its responsibilities. It would exempt wetlands and Disadvantaged Communities from overdraft penalties or prohibitions and create yet another hurdle to making SGMA work by removing local control. There is pushback from the GSAs as one would expect.

There could be a silver lining to exempting small DAC water systems from SGMA control provided their pumping rates are commiserative with de-minimis domestic well users. That could redirect much of the so called “social justice” crowd’s ire. But it also is an example of what I consider the greatest threat to SGMA’s success – lawmakers trying to rewrite SGMA in their own image. Whether due to ignorance or lack of care for the unintended consequences or worse, intended consequences, a continual monkey butting around with how to implement SGMA is bad for farmers, the state’s economy and the regulatory machine in Sacramento. Having to retool to meet new goals isn’t how to make good groundwater things happen to all of our benefit.

The Department of Water Resources issued 17 new determinations on subbasins with 10 of them being incomplete. That makes 13 subbasins in the incomplete category. That gives GSAs 180-days from the determinations issued to get their GSPs rewritten and submitted.

DWR Grant

It sounded like Jason Gianquinto gave the update on the grant and the application has been submitted on deadline. That allowed the board to either start processing the reimbursement process and they agreed to pay themselves.

Well Permits

Kincaid said the governor’s executive order requiring new well permits to get past GSA approval. She revisited the KGA policy and it is still in effect. The permit must be consistent with the KGA GSA’s GSP. Now I know my ABCs.

Next Kincaid told the board it is annual report time. DWR sent out some additional guidance for reports. DWR wants comparison data now and not just a list of numbers. These requirements are online. Some of the requirements have been relaxed also. Todd Groundwater has been preparing past reports and would like to continue doing so. Kincaid said Todd has the most experience and easy access to the needed data.

It is also the time of year when Form 700 is due. It must be completed by April 1st. Kincaid said to send them to her and if a director needs a copy of last year’s she can provide that. For those of you who don’t have to submit a Form 700 be thankful. I’ve had to a couple of times and it’s like doing taxes. You have to gather all the financial information you’ve accumulated in deed and in action and file it with the gooberment so they can be sure you don’t act like they do. By that I mean give gifts of public funds; like giving government employee unions benefits if they go and campaign for you. Election years, gets the juices flowing.

Waterhouse asked for new business and there was none. GEI engineering had sent a letter and that was all there was under correspondence. KGA gets interesting letters sent to it. Not long ago a local Non-Governmental-Organization sent correspondence calling the board and staff racists for doing exactly what it was doing in the letter by using a short cut to identify someone (plus misidentifying speakers, which happens but you shouldn’t send out a nastygram calling people names when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Kids, whatcha going to do?) Now it appears GEI wasn’t happy when the amount they billed was questioned.

With that the meeting went into closed session and the world continues spinning on its axis unconcerned with the plight of man.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide his clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2024 by

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:  Valerie Kincade – Attorney

The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:

Chair Dan Waterhouse – Semitropic WSD, Royce Fast – Kern County WA, Andrew Pandol – Kern Tulare WD, Kim Brown – Kern Water Bank Authority, , Gary Morris – West Kern WD & Rob Goff – Westside District Water Authority.

Brandon Morris – Southern San Joaquin MUD, John Gaugel – Cawelo WD, Kevin Andrew – North Kern WSD, Gary Unruh – Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD, Randy Bloemhof – Shafter Wasco ID

DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kern 5-022.14