The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, July 28, 2021, board of directors meeting remotely from Bakersfield. This is a meeting that generally works well as an online gathering and I hope the majority of the state legislature will set aside the heavy lift of attempting to satisfy every conceivable special interest group from animal voting rights to government employee unions trying to impose its will on the people and bring the Brown Act into the 21st Century. At $4 a gallon I’m confident I’m not the only one who would benefit from this.
At 8:01am Chairman Dan Waterhouse called the meeting to order. During public comment the KGA’s new video array received complements. Waterhouse announced item 5a. would be pulled from the agenda – that was a discussion and direction on the State Water Board’s Resolution on Racism. I was a little disappointed to see this, but as will be revealed the State Board can rampage in more than one direction at a time. It reminds me of when I was returning from Los Angeles on Highway 99 during typical dry summer conditions. There was a fire on the roadside just south of Selma. Another fire just north and yet another fire near Fowler. Crews were scrambling and I wondered who or what caused this. Was a bank robber trying to distract everyone? Was there a crazed arsonist running amok? Just before reaching Fresno I came upon a Highway Patrolman who had pulled over a pickup towing a trailer with one of those big BBQs made from a propane tank. That puzzle was solved. Unfortunately there isn’t an analogous entity like the Highway Patrol to protect us from the unintended consequences of state actions. Perhaps if voters could elect people to perform that duty. . . never mind.
Attorney Valerie Kincaid wasn’t able to attend in person and commented how the board looked like a well behaved classroom on Zoom video. She said the State Board issued two curtailments, none in Kern County, they were in Northern California. She said the State Board does not have authority over groundwater yet declared curtailment in the Scott and Shasta watersheds. These curtailments included two elements – the quantity of diversion and extractions, take out the larger extractors first regardless of water rights priority.
Kincaid said Delta curtailments were issued late last week. The data this was based on is three years old and the flow projections are based on monthly estimates. She said this impacts the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project contractors as this could be used against them. The curtailment said the deputy director of the State Board has the authority to lift or impose these regulations for one year. That means the State Board is trying to take control of all the reservoir operations in the state and place it under the deputy director. There was a State Board workshop yesterday and comments are due soon with a decision by the State Board on August 3rd.
Waterhouse said this might be an emergency but for the State Board to jam all this together at the last minutes isn’t right. Kincaid said the State Board has been looking at this since May of this year and has the 2015 curtailment experience to draw on. She said state law does allow for a five day period to enact emergency actions so while that technicality has been met it is a pretty bald faced case of opportunism by the State Board.
Ex O Report
Executive Director Patty Poire gave her report saying the exceedance policy has been reviewed extensively by the member managers and DWR input sought. She said there has been cases of exceedance and would like this policy to be passed. The representative of Rosedale Rio Bravo Water Storage District and I believe the new General Manager Dan Bartel said they missed the response deadline by 12-hours. He said this policy is based on conversations and not written direction. Also he said without a response from DWR it’s a premature move to ratify this policy at this time.
Poire said there has been an email chain and multiple manager meetings where the exceedance policy was in her opinion fully vetted. She has a Brown Act schedule to meet therefore a deadline for submissions from members.
The RRB director said Bartel was absent from work due to a medical emergency and asked the rest of the board to take that into consideration. Bartel said he doesn’t believe this policy is in accordance with the overall JPA due to the impact on boundary adjustments. He apologized for turning in the response late but urged the board to consider the written response provided by RRB at this meeting.
Waterhouse said he’s concerned as there have been five versions of this policy already. He recommended the board receive the policy as a draft and pending DWR approval. Someone asked Poire how many districts missed the policy meeting and she said every member was able to attend the managers meetings. Someone else said the board has the authority to change policy and groundwater levels are so very important as to have a policy in place. Poire noted the KGA has been successful in the manager communication approach so far. Waterhouse reiterated his desire to accept this as a draft policy pending DWR comment. The board made a motion and second and it passed with only RRB voting nay.
Next Poire reported the reimbursement of unused funs was ready to go and the board was too so it voted unanimously in favor.
The Native Yield Study has been reviewed (in the same manner of the exceedance policy) and there have been no comments from KGA members. She said the other GSAs in the Kern Subbasin are reviewing this as well. She said keeping this moving is important to qualify for grant funding.
The Data Management System has been released to the managers for review and the seasonal data was entered on deadline July 1st by everyone. Director Kim Brown asked if Poire is working with GEI Engineering to set up a schedule to come around to the members and work with them and help with the DMS. This is being put together.
Poire said Paul Goslin from Butte County has joined DWR as a SGMA Deputy Director of Groundwater. She said she’s seen Goslin’s work and she believes he’ll do a very good job as he understands SGMA and what GSAs are facing.
Poire said KGA received a planning notice from Kern County as development comes online. So the county will now inform the KGA GSA about work that could impact groundwater.
Waterhouse asked the board if it would like to write a comment letter to the State Board about the curtailment action. Kincaid said that would not be an action item, more of a direct staff item. Waterhouse urged the members to see if the home boards would like to weigh in on the matter. And that was that.
DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide its 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 2021 by Waterwrights.net.
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