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Kern Water Bank Authority January 11, 2022

Bermad irrigationThe Kern Water Bank Authority held its Tuesday, January 11, 2022 board of directors meeting at its Bakersfield offices and online with Zoom. All the cool kids showed up. We just heard from Tulare Irrigation District there is the possibility of a late January repeat of the atmospheric storms of this past December so it will be good to hear some other information. It makes me excited to think we could have another major snow/rainfall. If that discussion was had I didn’t hear it. But there was some other very exiting news.Conterra

The Meeting

Chairman Bill Phillimore likes to start on time and runs a tight meeting. You could sense his eagerness to start. We started at 3:04pm. The two late directors snoozed and loosed almost. Dennis Atkinson from Tejon Ranch slide in under the wire. The first thing to happen was a resolution allowing the meeting to be held remotely was passed.

Before the minutes were approved Phillimore announced the 26-year litigation has been decided by the California Supreme Court and the good news continued. There will be more under the attorney’s report. Good for them. I realized I’ve been doing this reporting on water for a while. I didn’t know who won the case , Phillimore didn’t say. So I asked. I’ve joked around with these folks before and after meeting long enough I had to assure them I wasn’t making a joke, God bless them. It’s possible Phillimore was pleased with the fact it was over. But they did win. Oh and the minutes were approved.

Financials

KWB Controller Danelle Lopez gave the financial report. It was clear, concise and somewhere in the middle of it Director Rob Yraceburu showed up on my screen. So everyone was there and everyone approved the report. The board then took a look at the accounts payable and pulled that trigger making vendors happy.Technoflo

A Legal Summary

Attorney and leading man look alike Steve Torigiani gave the board a summary of the legal wrangling that has been dragging through the courts. He said 26-years of litigation ended when the Supreme Court denied all petitions and the KWB, DWR and the State Water Contractors finally prevailed. This involved the Monterey Agreement but the specifics of the case weren’t discussed. Torigiani graciously agreed to talk with me about this case later. So, more after that.

Phillimore invited the board to make some suggestions about possibly celebrating. Sheridan Nicholas, General Manager of and Director for Wheeler Ridge said he was still in grade school when that lawsuit started and would yield to Phillimore’s desire. Phillimore said he believes a celebration locally and in Sacramento of previous directors and those involved in this fight would be in order. Not a parade or big party but just a get together to recognize the blood and capital expended over well more than two decades. I hope they get legal fees.

Operational Reports

Special Consultant John Ocana and Superintendent Nick Torres reported on capital projects. The budget isn’t small – $20 million and Phillimore praised staff and thanked the Lord for the window of opportunity weather wise to get some of these projects wrapped up. He said without that confluence of sweat and providence they’d still be talking about getting started.

General Manager Jon Parker spoke about the Basin 11 project – 2,800 acres of recharge fed by improved conveyance from the east flowing to KWB to the west under the Trestle Turnout which I’m guessing runs under a railroad track. The water will go to the bank, which has a “insert buzz word here – Robust” system of canals and recharge cells. This will require horizontal drilling also known as boring under Enos Lane in order to move the extra water where it’s needed. The Kern County Water Agency is involved in this project.

Ocana spoke about the next steps for continuing capital projects. There will be further spending needed in 2022 but they are getting closer. So far 70 out of 160 basins and I don’t know how many road crossing on the bank have been replaced. There is a well ready to go online but it will be delayed until next month. Torres said PG&E told him the winter storms dumped so much snow that crews were pulled from the Valley floor to deal with emergency matters. Atkinson said he saw at least 20 PG&E trucks in a convey heading north. Torres said his son works for PG&E and he’s been deported up north for some time now. So when they get back they’ll turn the new well on.

Ocana said cashflow coming in has been good and the financials are in pretty good shape visa vi the capital projects. Things got involved here with revolving funds and draws and such. Once again, these are public records and if you’re interested in the minutia of water bank accounting have at it.

Water Report

Parker presented the board with water storage, recovery and recharge figures. It looks like the preliminary figure for recovery is just under 200,000 a/f. There is 2.9 million a/f in storage currently. Parker next posted a series of hydrographs showing water depth in various wells. They were colorful. There is no grazing taking place on the bank at this time. There has been an above average amount of rain on the bank so far this year.

Parker reported the Monitoring Committee doesn’t have much to say for itself this past month. However, the Kern Groundwater Authority GSA is awaiting the Groundwater Sustainability Plan review by DWR, like everyone else up and down the Valley. They’re looking at getting grant money just like everyone else up and down the Valley.

Phillimore asked if we are in a full recovery year without additional rain how will the pump back facility on the California Aqueduct work. Yraceburu said DWR is good for a March start, so he heard second hand. He also said there was a conversation about transitioning a temporary pump back structure into a permanent structure. He said Wonderful’s Kim Brown and Provost & Pritchard are leading the charge on this subject.

There was no public comment and at 3:49pm Phillimore called it and things went into closed session.

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KERN WATER BANK AUTHORITY

1620 Mill Rock Way, Bakersfield, CA 93311 Office: 661/398-4900 www.kwb.org

Staff: Jon Parker-General Manager, Danelle Lopez-Accountant, Steve Torigiani-Attorney, Nick Torres-Superintendent

Board: William Phillimore-Chair Westside Mutual Water Company, Sheridan Nicholas-Vice Chair Wheeler Ridge Maricopa Water Storage District, Steve Jackson-Treasurer Dudley Ridge Water District, Dennis Atkinson Tejon Castac Water District, David Beard KCWA Improvement District 4, Jason Gianquinto Semitropic Water Storage District & Rob Yraceburu Westside Mutual Water Company

Located on a large, undeveloped section of the Kern River’s sandy alluvial fan, the Kern Water Bank covers nearly 30 square miles over California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. Ideally situated, both for its unique geology and its proximity to water supply and delivery systems, the Kern Water Bank plays a dual role in California’s economically vital agricultural heartland.

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