The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its board of directors meeting on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 in Bakersfield and on Zoom with a really interesting and functional three screen format. I like it. A little earlier than usual I suspect in an effort to avoid Thanksgiving conflicts. Fall is here in the Valley. There was a little fog the other morning at my place. Sometimes it’s foggy where I live and I drive into town and it clears up. Other times it’s sunny and bright and I drive into a shrouded metropolitan area. Folks have comment there seems to be less fog in the Valley. The air quality here is better. Some studies indicate better than pre-Columbian times. Less particulate for the water drops to hang glide around on.
I live at the base of the foothills of the glorious Sierra Nevada Mountain range. There’s snow on the high peaks. There’s been rain. Most of the harvest is finished so I expect the board to be in better than usual mood.
Chairman and winner of the Water Association of Kern County’s 2022 Water Leader of the Year award Dan Waterhouse called the meeting at 8:00am on the dot. We saluted the flag and there was no public comment. Waterhouse introduced a couple of folks from DWR, Leroy Ellinghouse and Allie Lopez.
Ellinghouse said he’s retiring and introduced Lopez as the GSA’s new point of contact at DWR. The man said he appreciates the hard work KGA has done and praised Executive Director Patty Poire for her willingness to communicate. He said he and Lopez will be visiting all the GSAs in the Kern Subbasin. Waterhouse said it isn’t often a state agency takes the time to visit and provide continuity for staff changes.
The minutes were approved with a slight change in who showed up late, turned out no one did. Also Marinelle Duarosan gave the financial report and it was approved as is, because she’s got the good math skills.
Attorney Valerie Kincaid said five GSPs have been challenged in court. Specifically the Delta Mendota Subbasin’s GSP by the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. DWR stepped in with an Amicus Curiea Brief stating the court isn’t the appropriate venue to judge the GSP, the duty and legal responsibility is on DWR to make those calls. If the faults in the GSPs are not sufficiently address the onus is then on the State Board. That’s the law. It is somewhat rare for DWR to file an amicus in this type of instance.
When you go to the CSPA link you’ll see the Chairman/Executive Director is a man named Jennings, not Peter, not Waylon, but Bill Jennings. Jennings might look a bit like Santa in his photo. He’s not usually listed as a friend of ag. I suspect the CSPA does some good but they like their striped bass and have a long history of litigation, obstruction and generally making it tough on farmers to get water supplies. I’ve heard it said that Jennings once vowed to do to the tributary rivers what the San Joaquin River settlement did to ag water supplies.
Ex D Report
Poire asked the board to approve the 2023 board meeting dates. Waterhouse reminded everyone January is reorganization month. The board approved the dates.
Each year, each GSA has to prepare a report, thus the reason for naming it the annual report. This is in addition to the five year review under SGMA. So far Todd Groundwater has been preparing the report for the KGA and the board thought that it would be a good thing to continue that trend. If I heard correctly the cost will be about $3K per member.
Provost & Pritchard has been working on a subbasin data collection effort. There is some grant money coming up for subsidence, monitoring wells and such. The amount is up to $20 million. The engineering firm of GEI has got its thumb on the subsidence portion and P&P wants to write the grant application. Poire said she wrote the application by herself last year and has no desire to do that again. The board agreed.
There’s another application, the Second Round SGMA Implementation Grant. Poire said the deadline falls between KGA meetings, if I understood. She asked for permission to have the managers review the application and get things started before the next meeting. The board agreed that would be prudent.
Poire said as the basin study begins to unfold she has asked all the individual member agencies that haven’t done so to become GSAs. Westside, North Kern, Shafter Wasco and now South San Joaquin Municipal Utility District are on that journey. This will position the entities when it comes time to set allocations and certain other provisions and benefits are made available. The board said yes.
New Biz & Closed Session
No one spoke up with any new business. But it was mentioned there is a request from the South of Kern River GSA for a budget to actual expense reconciliation for 2022. So now you know. With that Waterhouse called the open portion of the meeting at 8:35am. A very short meeting by most standards. There was one case of potential litigation to discuss in closed session and that was that.
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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 Kincaid – Attorney, Marinelle Duarosan – Treasurer
The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:
Chairman: Dan Waterhouse.
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
DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kern 5-022.14