The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, June 26, 2019 meeting in Bakersfield at some large law firm’s conference room on California Avenue. For those of you who think Bakersfield is where the Clampets came from parts of it are more like Beverly Hills than hillbilly hills. It’s a nice building; sophisticated, modern, confused parking – it has everything a big city experience can offer. The meeting was scheduled to start at 8:00am and it almost did. It was literally standing room only. KGA Chairman Dennis Mullins called the meeting and welcomed public input. A young lady who spoke really fast – Jasmine Someone with the Leadership Council said her outfit is has some comments and concerns about the GSP being developed. This is a group of lawyers who like to represent disadvantaged communities.
The minutes were approved and the treasurer’s report was given by Dick Diamond, General Manager of the North Kern Water Storage District. Mullins said Diamond was a blessing. If I understood most the recent expenses when it GEI Consulting Engineers. There were some nice grants that came in; more than $800,000. Not bad. The board approved the treasurer’s and accounts payable reports. There was a cash call for the water budget modeling performed by Todd Groundwater Modeling. Patty Poire, KGA Executive Director said the amount was for a little more than $111,000. The board agreed.
Next Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD GM, Eric Averett talked about AB 1755. He showed the board a plan to combine data now going to eight different state agencies from the State Board to the Governor’s office. This is a pilot project and the state is asking for contributions from water entities to help pay for this. So far hundreds of thousands of dollars from the water community have been donated. Averett said this stemmed from a conversation he and Poire had with Felicia Marcus, former chair of the State Board about the subject of data fatigue. He spoke recently with Joaquin Esquival, current State Board chair and got his buy in. The board and most of the folks in the room were all for reducing the amount of times redundant data must be submitted by the water entities. It took some hard work Averett and others to make the state aware of the burden it was placing on folks. What kind of a state government do we have that causes a problem that only the citizens have the motivation to fix and charges them for the privilege?
Poire presented the Groundwater Sustainability Plan schedule. GEI is writing the GSP. Larry Rodriguez, GEI said he still needs some input from the member districts; however he has received an internal GSP draft from all the KGA members. He wants to present all the managers an administrative draft by the end of July. The goal is to have a public draft of the KGA’s GSP on August 29th of this year. There will be a 90-day comment period and Rodriguez will have responses in December. The KGA board will approve the GSP at the January 22nd, 2020 meeting and submit the final GSP to the Department of Water Resources by the January 30th deadline. Rodriguez pointed out there will be no public review before the public draft is releases. Poire said there will be two workshops during the 90-day public review to help constituents with questions. She said the board needs to decide if and when and how long these workshops will be. Talk about data overload – there’s a lot to unpack here. Each member will be writing its own GSP which will be a chapter in the overall KGA GSP. Averett said since each member district’s home boards will be commenting on the pros and cons. He suggested the review of the plans not go into too much detail as much of the information will be eerily similar. Actually, Averett didn’t say eerily, he said similar but I thought injecting eerily here would keep your attention. Why write a report no one reads? Rodriguez presented a chart that shows a mile-wide east/west and north/south cross section of the Kern County Valley floor. It shows the ground, the groundwater level of spring 2015, the management objectives and the minimum thresholds. It was an interesting way to look at things.
Under work accomplishments Poire reported 800 letters of SGMA information to landowners trigged more than 200 phone calls. She found out most of the responders hadn’t received any of the letters Kern County said it sent out. She said she was able to match them with their GSAs and didn’t receive any disgruntled folks. She hopes this can be made into a list that will give the managers the information needed to update the map. Poire thanked her staff for the help provided. Director Andrew Pandol said the response he’s received was very positive with many responders stating they’ve never seen a board expend more effort in reaching out. Good for them.
Poire also reported the Friant Water Authority sent the KGA a letter politely reminding them about the subsidence problems on the Friant Kern Canal. She said infrastructure is very much on the table.
The beautiful and brilliant water attorney Valerie Kincaid said the coordination agreement has been signed by three of the remaining five entities that need to get with it. She said to expect the August meeting to be “robust” and be ready to dig in. She said not to expect any more changes to the agreement between the KGA and the districts. That was about it and the meeting adjourned right at 9:00am,
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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.
The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:
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
www.kerngwa.com DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kern 5-022.14