The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, September 28, 2022 board of directors meeting at its secrete lair somewhere in or near Bakersfield and online with Zoom. I would be so bummed out to discover Zoom is a tool of the Communist Chinese Party because it usually works well and is relatively easy to use for a luddite and seasoned pro alike. I see the agenda lists an audit report of 2021’s financial going on’s. I’ve noticed a trend over the years of CPAs improving their presentation skills. A decade or so ago one poor feller gave a half hour – 45-minute report and the delivery was in a thick accent and monotone. Afterwards a glassy eyed attorney informed the board there is no law requiring a verbal audit report.
Things kicked off with Brandon Morris sitting in for Chairman Dan Waterhouse and we saluted the flag. The minutes were approved and the audit was given. Audits are important of course and they can be a great deal of work for both staff and accountants. Today’s report was brought to us by Barbich, Hooper and King. I didn’t catch the name of the presenter but he kept it under 10-minutes. I understand an audit is an accomplishment few could attain. I’d want to talk about it a little myself if I could do something like that but this report was a good balance and as usual there was nothing unusual found in the KGA audit.
Valarie Kincaid said on September 7th the State Board approved an amendment to the Central Valley Basin Plan that is still awaiting details on flows and water quality. On September 12th the 6th District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of pre-1914 water rights holders stating the State Board does not have authority to regulate in the manner it attempted. On Monday the State Board filed a petition of correction, which Kincaid said is unusual. The ruling did leave some wiggle room for the State Board to act under certain emergency conditions if I’m understanding correctly.
Executive Director Report
Patty Poire, Executive Director started by stating there was a very rare Zoom problem that prevented her from sharing her screen with the group. There was some work performed by Lawrence Livermore Lab that was on a tight deadline. Something happened and the KGA got a bunch of money back that needed to be refunded to the members and that motion passed easily.
The next item was also of a refund nature. GEI Engineering had Task Order #19 that didn’t use all the funds. The board approved accepting that money as well. Part of this money went to all the GSAs in the Kern Subbasin and part went to KGA members.
KGA has an agreement with GEI to build a Data Management System and there is some grant money left over from this effort. GEI proposed to move that money into its coffers to expand the DMS and the board was good with that.
Kern County is one of the great oil producing areas in the nation. There is a proposal to include new non-voting members to the KGA from the oil industry. This was tabled until the next meeting at Morris’ suggestion in deference to Waterhouse.
Poire asked the board to dive in on a truck stop project on I-5 by applicant Mike Singh that will require the KGA to give its SGMA flavored compliance in the form of a letter. She said this is really a subbasin issue and the subbasin plan needs to be completed. That would cause a long delay to Mr. Singh so Kincaid and Poire suggested there be a caveat in the letter stating the amount of allocated groundwater pumping could be reduced in the future pending more data findings. Poire said the subbasin study will help guide the policy positions for not only the KGA but all the Kern GSAs. Someone said the white areas within the KGA need to develop management actions.
Under SGMA white areas that couldn’t join or form a GSA were supposed to go under control of the tender mercies of the counties. Kern County said no to that deal and in general has not been as involved with SGMA as every other impacted county in the state. Without Kern County’s support the white areas would have then gone to the untender mercies of the State Board. KGA stepped in to help prevent that camel from getting its nose under their tent. Now the KGA has a, I don’t know, refugee on its hands. A response letter was prepared and the board agreed it will suffice for now.
Poire reported for grant purposes the subsidence study payments needed to be assigned to both Todd Groundwater and Aquilogic and the board agreed. Lawrence Berkeley Lab is also a part of this subsidence study. Its proposal is different from the others and the board agreed.
Racial Equity in High Places
The State Board has sent out its draft on its Racial Equity plan and Poire said the KGA’s request to be included in the planning wasn’t addressed. She said the October 19th deadline for comments on the draft plan is before the next KGA meeting and she wanted direction to allow her and Kincaid to write a letter. This letter will be reviewed by managers and the executive committee before being sent. The board approved that procedure. Good for them for having the courage to speak up. If the citizens of California don’t push back against the more wackified proposals coming out of San Francramento we’re going to get what they give and we won’t like it.
Poire said the rest of her report was in the packet and welcomed inquires after the meeting if there were any questions. Under new business Poire said there was no correspondence and the meeting went into closed session for one item of potential litigation at 8:54am.
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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