The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, October 27, 2021, board of directors meeting by Zoom and in person for directors and staff. The in person part happened in Bakersfield. Chairman Dan Waterhouse led the flag salute. Under public comment it was difficult to understand but Jason Gianquinto, GM Semitropic Water Storage District said the KGA needs to focus on achieving sustainability before chasing after other things no matter how sexy water markets might be.
Director Gene Lundquist asked if Gianquinto could repeat himself. Gianquinto got closer to the microphone said his remarks were to thank Executive Director Patty Poire for keeping the KGA informed about Environmental Defense Fund’s Open ET and the California Water Commission’s water marketing. However, he encouraged the board to remain true to the three legs of the KGA’s mission: achieve sustainability by 2040, avoid adjudication and keep the state out of here.
Attorney Valarie Kincade reported on Governor Gavin Newsom’s proclamation of drought to now include all of the counties in California as actually experiencing a real, live drought. While not mandating demands that take any of the curtailment pressure off of ag it does state the urban areas are not to water the sidewalks.
We had a big rain over the weekend and the State Board stepped up by lifting curtailments on the Delta in response. There were concerns the State Board might not be flexible enough but it did the right thing this time. Pleasant surprises all over the place. Kincade said if the State Board wants to curtail during dry times but lift the curtailment during wet times that’s a least a roadmap to allow for reservoirs to fill.
Poire began her report saying there needs to be an additional $55,000 added to the budget for unforeseen needs but there would be no cash call at least today. The board approved and the board approved keeping the KGA board meeting schedule status quo, fourth Wednesday of the month and any changes or cancellations will be notified to the public. The board agreed to this as well.
Poire said the basin’s water study is underway and there are things it will do and not do. She said this ties in with Gianquinto’s remarks. Until this information is gathered and understood the other things such as water marketing and Open ET are not going to find their utility. This study will not determine who owns what water. This study is a very technical, cost $2 million and take 18 months but will show the different types of water quality, underground drift and how water banks impact the overall picture. There are also two subsidence studies that will cost a total of $2 million and will drill deep into the understanding of what’s happening down there. There is a good deal of grant money available but a tight deadline to apply. All of this will feed into the CV-SIMs model and benefit the entire basin. She said all the GSAs are on board at this time.
Next Poire updated the board on the Data Management System. You can now pull it up online. You have to go to the KGA website first. It’s located right near where you can download meeting agendas. This is the GEI Engineering product at work and there will be a meeting between the GSAs to discuss how to use the remaining funds from the DMS development costs. One suggestion is to use the DMS to produce the annual report. Poire said the goal is to get all the data inputs lined up and use them to generate the annual reports for the next 20 to 40 years or however long SGMA will be requiring annual reports. That would be a nice.
Waterhouse said this is the last month to have the in person part of the meeting at the current Klien law firm conference room. The firm is moving and there needs to be a new location and as of today there is no where else to go. There are unique considerations for meeting space that also allows reasonable online facilitation; also parking. The Kings River Conservation District has a piece of technology known as “The Owl.” It is a cylinder like gizmo about two feet tall. It has a camera or cameras in it and microphones. You can set it to focus on different parts of the meeting area and I’ve found it to be very helpful when attending meetings remotely online. Why, if the KGA where to use The Owl it could set up in a barn and have a good meeting provided there was someone to prevent the barn owls from attacking the computer Owl.
The annual report will be an additional challenge this year. SGMA requires water usage methodology in a subbasin be uniform. Evapotranspiration, ET is a way to calculate how much water a plant is using. ET can be determined by satellite. Cal Poly’s ending its Irrigation Technology Research Center’s satellite ET service.
Open ET was released last week. Open ET is partnership between the Environmental Defense Fund, NASA, Google and bunch of others with funding from private foundations. It’s meant to provide ET information for the entire western United States. Many of the folks in the Kern Subbasin are already using Land IQ, a privately owned ET satellite service roundly praised for its accuracy due to ground truthing weather stations used to calibrate its data.
Waterhouse said the problem is KGA has been using the Cal Poly service so what to do now? He said Open ET is using old data and doesn’t have ground truthing in the area. His concern is there could be a large over reporting of water use that will skew the results against Kern County. Gianquinto said there is concern Open ET is using old data parcel information and comparison to ITRC and Land IQ results shows Open ET over reporting water consumption.
Poire said Land IQ is accepted by DWR as a valid data source. There has to be a decision made soon because the annual SGMA report is coming up fast. But it sounded like there is grant money available for switching from ITRC and all the GSAs have to be using the same thing. The state likes Open ET because it’s free and the state might use it to fact check but Waterhouse said you can only gather data from 2,400 acres at a time and they must be contiguous acres. It sounded to me like Land IQ will be the preferred choice in this showdown of satellite collected data.
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