The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, January 26, 2022 board of directors meeting on Zoom. This is one morning I’m particularly pleased to be attending in my pajamas, I didn’t get much sleep last night. Yesterday was the groundbreaking ceremony for the repairs of the Friant Kern Canal. It was such a beautiful day and the folks gathered where in great spirits and I’ll be writing up a little more on that event. But I’ll say this now, the only thing that could have been better was if the weather was borderline freezing with sheets of rain falling.
After the ceremony I had a chance to catch up with an old friend over a late lunch/early supper in Porterville. I thought to myself, I’m going to take Hiway 65 and get off of Hiway 99 for a while. When I was approaching Lindsay about dusk a dummy light that looked like a sedan carrying a giant wrench came on and there was a clicking sound and the dash lights flickered and went out and the headlights went out and the power steering went out and I rolled to a stop at the corner. A kind man helped me push the mighty Saturn to the parking lot and I ended up parked under a sign that said, “Lindsay, The Friendly City.” It is too. I had more people of all kinds offer to help. It’s a good thing I learned how to say, “Perdoname, mi espanol es poquito y mui mal.” Anyway, if anyone has ever changed an alternator on 2007 Saturn give me a call. In fact if anyone knows where it’s at under the hood give me a call.
Commander, excuse, Chairman Dan Waterhouse called the meeting to order at 8:00am. Most of the board was in one room somewhere in Bakersfield – a city notorious for its lack of large rooms. Back in the day the KGA meetings were literally standing room only. I guess they finally found a room that could hold most of the board.
Roll was taken, there was a quorum, a resolution was passed allowing the meeting to legally be held on Zoom and we saluted the flag. That was good. There was no public comment and the minutes were approved. Marinelle Duarosan of North Kern Water District gave the treasurer’s report and that was done so well the board just went ahead and approved it.
Valerie Kincaid said Indian Wells’ Groundwater Sustainability Plan received an approval from the Department of Water Resources. There were four incomplete rulings handed out by DWR. Other reviews from DWR were harsher on coordination between GSAs on GSPs with multiple GSAs. Subsidence was also a focal point for many of the plans. Kincaid was asked if the comments included suggestions on how to rewrite portions to make the plans acceptable. The answer was yes sort of. But, the policy areas, like coordination are more tricky than technical issues like subsidence.
The California Water Commission issued a draft paper on groundwater trading. This was a look at how much and what the state should do in this area. Kincaid said the CWC was setting a pretty high bar, maybe too high. It’s hard to do something the perfect first time. The paper did say groundwater trading was not the silver bullet. That was good. But they cracked the door for more state control and were not specific on the three types of water users: small farmers, industrial and big ag. They didn’t define the criteria or what priorities should be favored so that made things far too subjective at first blush.
Kincaid said the CWC white paper has generated a lot of review. ACWA is taking a look amongst others. That’s worrisome since this may be a backdoor route to ramp up the right to human water as a regulatory hammer. It’s problematic but as Kincaid pointed out groundwater trading is new to everyone. My hope is the state won’t shove its nose and nuts into areas as a way to inject the values of law firms disguised as NGOs. Those values seem to perpetually benefit narrow, special, virtue signaling interests above the folks who rely on water in the San Joaquin Valley, which is of course, everyone.
Executive Directors Report
Executive Director Patty Poire said the engineering firm not disguised as anything else and is an actual engineering firm, Provost & Pritchard is wanting to perform outreach and other tasks for KGA. The board approved.
Todd Groundwater & the Irrigation Technology Resource Center at Cal Poly have a proposal to prepare the annual report and the costs were divided up between member agencies. Poire said this is the last year the ITRC will be able to provide satellite ET under the current agreement. Todd has been preparing the annual report, due in April since the beginning. (Side note: I wonder who Chad Givens is. Every time there’s a vote his photo appears on screen.) The board approved the proposal from Todd and ITRC.
GEI Engineering has a proposal to provide hydrographs and other data needed for the annual report. The funds will come from a grant and Poire said this will be an improvement. An easier way for member agencies to gather and look at data throughout the year instead of a mad dash to put together the annual report. The board approved.
The next item Poire presented was a template from I believe DWR on grant application resolutions. There was a workshop last summer on the topic and now the template has arrived and must be followed. There is a February deadline and it sounded like it’s a bit complicated. The Subbasins have to submit no less than $10 million in requests for projects and could be awarded up to $20 million. Yes I see now why it’s a bit complicated.
The projects submitted have to be completed by 2025, if I understood correctly. I did hear two of the projects are a subbasin-wide groundwater study and switching over to Land IQ for satellite ET. The board approved adopting the template as a guide. I think, is how it shook out. I heard during this vote Givens is the representative for the City of Shafter and he must be attending remotely, so while I’m not clear about the above resolution, I do know a little more about who Givens is and why his photo appears. Not really germane to this report but at least I won’t have nagging mystery hanging over me.
The next item regarded the division of costs between GSAs for the grant submittals and that was approved. This had to do with a GEI task order.
It is the time of year when officers are officially nominated and sat securely in their seats. Waterhouse as chair and Brandon Morris as Vice Chair was the unanimous choice.
The last two items of Poire’s report were the accomplishments and forward work plan. That was in the packet and not subject to a vote so to save time the directors were asked to look it over in print.
Waterhouse said his biggest ask is Poire and Kincaid stay healthy. He also reminded everyone the clock will soon start ticking on the KGA GSP rewrites. He asked everyone to please stay aware and active in this process. There was no correspondence and the meeting went into closed session one case of potential litigation at 8:43am. That was that. Go be good to 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:
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