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Kern Groundwater Authority GSA January 25, 2023

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By Don A. Wright

The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, January 25, 2023 board meeting in Bakersfield and on Zoom. I remember when the KGA meetings used to be held in various offices around Bakersfield. The Kern County Board of Supervisors Chamber was particularly good as although it is downtown there was parking relatively close and there was plenty of comfortable seating – even electrical plugs you can access for your computer and still sit in the same room and ask questions.

Then the meeting location moved to the Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce HQ. Also downtown and as I recall the BCC was terrified someone might park in its lot. For some reason it also kept its front door locked adding a flavor of confusion. Also as I recall it was a good idea to wear your hiking boots because getting from your parking spot to the meeting was often a trek. And it was literally standing room only.

I once referred to the Chamber of Commerce’s chamber in a long ago report as being “packed like a slave galley” or some such description. I kid you not, I don’t remember who but someone wrote me outraged that I’d dare to compare a GSA meeting to the conditions suffered by Africans imported to the new world as slaves. I don’t remember informing Mr. or Mrs. Featherruffled Pantytwist the difference between a Dutch Fluyt or multi masted galleon; a sailing ship using to transport slaves across the infamous Middle Passage, and a slave galley used in the Mediterranean by Romans, Carthaginians and later Muslim nations before the discovery of the new world. Slave gallies were powered primarily by oarsmen slaves. I was referring to the latter and while conditions on both types of vessels were brutal, barbaric and examples of inhumanity – slave galley is also a colloquialism used to describe a crowded situation.

Now that we have that cleared up. The KGA ended up meeting at the conference room of some law firm on California Avenue west of Highway 99 in Bakersfield. I believe they may still be meeting there. There was parking and it was still a bit tight for the amount of attendance but the thing I remember most was you took an elevator up to the third floor then you had to take some stairs to get to the conference room instead of taking the elevator to the fourth floor. It was a little bit reminiscent of Being John Malkovich in layout but functional.

The Meeting

Chairman Dan Waterhouse called the meeting at 8:00am, a quorum was determined to in fact exist and we all saluted the flag. The minutes were approved. Marinelle Duarosan gave the financial report and it was approved.

Attorney’s Report

            Valerie Kincade gave her report saying the State Water Resources Control Board met earlier this month and discussed a “robust” racial equity action plan with 18 different presentations from State Board staff. There are now 10-racially trained employees and another 140 in the hopper. This is data driven and most public comments were centered around water rights. Rob McCarthy is the State Board point person to help tribes and BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, People of Color with their various plights and questions. It sounds like there is a good deal of effort to sway flows to these groups. However, the State Board didn’t officially adopt the Racial Equity Action Plan so how do you protest or oppose it? It sounded like the racial equity action plan will be reviewed annually by the State Board.

I realize I have written about racial equity ad nauseum but please remember it is a form of Marxism. It does not respect individuals and separates people into racial classes. It does not respect private property rights and moves us towards communism. This is not my opinion. It is verifiable. Racial Equity must be strongly opposed. Remember this isn’t equality, it’s equity. The so called woke may call you a racist for speaking against it and try to bully and silence you. But we still have the Constitution and freedom of speech is still our right.

Executive Director Report

            Patty Poire said the first order of business was to elect a Chairman for 2023 and Waterhouse was the only one nominated – guess who won. Brandon Morris was also the only one nominated for Vice Chair. So their reign continues.

Poire reminded the board Provost & Pritchard Engineering provides the KGA with a management services agreement. Poire has her offices at P&P’s offices and P&P manages her benefits package. She said it takes a couple of months to account all of this, P&P does the review and in turn bills KGA. So what happened is the bid to renew its management agreement was presented by P&P in December to keep pace with the calendar year but the actual budget comparison is a month behind. In any event the board accepted P&P’s up date and will continue paying Poire. Win/win.

On the topic of accounting Poire reported the budget to actual expense reconciliation was pretty close. The board agreed and approved that report.

The City of McFarland applied for some urban drought funds. There is a big chunk of change in that grant account. McFarland is within the Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utilities District and the money would go to improving wells in the city. The board approved sending a letter of support for McFarland’s application.

Semitropic Water Storage District has requested two new monitoring wells be included in it’s GSA coordination agreement. Under the KGA’s Joint Powers Authority agreement the KGA has to approve changes to the coordination agreement. The proposal was prepared by Larry Rodriguez of GEI Engineering and Semitropic’s General Manager Jason Gianquinto gave some further details about the nature of the request and benefits of the new wells. The location for both is in the southern portion of the district. Poire said there are other wells that need to have their status updated. She gave an example of a well that collapsed and needs to have its status changed. Kincade added this action is not subject to prior DWR review and will be considered in the annual report. The board agreed.

Poire reported the first stakeholder meeting will be next Monday the 30th. This will be a workshop on data management and will help to fulfill grant requirements. She’s also the President of the Kern County Farm Bureau and is using that organization to help publicize the event.

The coordination meeting was held last week. DWR has stated the incomplete GSP reviews will be completed in the first quarter of 2023 and the managers will be apprised of the determination in advance. In the meantime GSAs will be carrying on.

Evidently DWR’s Paul Gosselin stated at a recent ACWA event there will be new guidelines issued in late 2024 for the 2025 SGMA reporting update. Every five years GSPs must be updated with new data and adjusted. Kincade said there is a request for DWR to hurry up the release of that information so the GSAs have time to respond. Poire said the process for emergency or temporary water permits (wasn’t sure of the name) for recharge are being updated. To say there has been some frustration about the amount of water lost in the most recent storms that could have been recharged would be a gigantic understatement.

Poire had a pretty long list of accomplishments the KGA has achieved. It included meeting with state agencies about water quality and grant opportunities. She also meets with the oil industry and economic groups. Poire meets as a member of the San Joaquin Valley Water Collaborative Action Plan. The CAP as it is referred to, is a group of San Joaquin Valley stakeholders who meet to discuss and find implementable solutions to the Valley’s water shortage problem. Good for her.

The Meeting Ends

There was no new or old business. There was no correspondence. There was one case of potential litigation and an employee review in closed session. The public portion ended at 8:37am. Go be good to yourself and each other.

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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