The Kern Water Bank Authority held its Tuesday, March 2, 2021 board of directors meeting remotely on Zoom. It was a little easier to follow because each participant had their own window screen. You could tell who was talking even though many of them are scattered about the country from Bakersfield to Alaska. I do hope once the virus calms down we can all see each other again in person but I also hope remote remains an option. It’s interesting to see how folks that know each other and are comfortable together are even more relaxed calling in from homes and offices.
At 3:05pm Chairman Bill Phillimore called the meeting to order and Danelle Lopez called roll. The treasurer’s report was next but Lopez took a moment to call in. Evidently the audio was less than happy. I still believe in Zoom. Anyway, the accounting report was posted on screen and I’d already received it by email and got a chance to look it over. I can tell you we could split the amount of the KWB’s PG&E bill and probably us and two dozen of our closest friends wouldn’t have to worry about beer and cigarette money for the rest of the year or hire the Rolling Stones and party with Keith and Mick for a couple of nights. I think Mr. Phillimore might enjoy that last option due to the fact he’s British. And it’s my gut feeling the rest of the board and staff would rock out pretty good given the chance. The board approved.
Report were next and General Manager Jon Parker put up a photo of a Canadian goose swimming around one of the bank’s ponds. There were no recharge activities reported. Recovery has started. The KWB Canal is starting to fill with the 82,000 a/f combined requests. Both Directors Sheridan Nicolas and Kim Brown said their entities will be revising their requests over time.
Parker reported the paving on the bike path has started west of I-5 and at this time due to virus the ribbon cutting will be delayed until later in the year. The Water Bank has been a good partner in getting this bike path constructed. It should be a nice ride.
Superintendent Nick Torres reported the budget on some of the capacity improvement projects are on the verge of being exceeded but for the most part doing pretty good. Parker put up some photos taken by drone of the KWB Canal Bypass pumping station. There is some incredibly clear water coming out of the ground. It looked like a pure mountain stream. There were other photos of the Strand Pump Station that will push water along a three mile pipe.
Torres said the capitalized maintenance work is coming along. Intakes and other structures are much improved. Before and after photos really show the difference. Some of the old, rusty corrugated metal pipe looks like it belongs in a haunted house. Shiny new traveling screens and bright red gates look especially nice. Parker said there are carp downstream of the Old Main Weir and they need some upstream. He said the weeds on the down stream are manageable and it would be nice to have the same conditions upstream. True story: I once moved to a house in Fresno with a swimming pool that hadn’t been tended properly for months. The water was murky green. I went to the pet store and bought like $50 worth of small goldfish also known as tiny carp maybe an inch long at a quarter each and tossed them into the pool. In the evenings I’d turn on the pool light and throw oatmeal at it. Eventually the little guys would swim up there to the surface and eat. The effort never did clean up the water but it did attract ducks, which was kind of fun. Finally we drained the pool and there were about 40 of the goldfish that survived. They had grown to four or five inches in length and I sold them back to the pet store as pond rockets or water comets or some such thing for a buck each. How many people can say they’ve only lost $10 investing in aquaculture?
Torres reported on well replacement and rehabilitation saying there was one well with a broken shaft and one with a burned up motor. He said 81 of the 88 wells are in working condition. The others are being addressed. It’s not cheap to fix all the needs of the water bank. The estimated cost is $7.6 million but that includes expansions, turnouts and many other features beyond just wells. Parker believes there should be some good news on the costs and things could come in under budget.
Parker said there hasn’t been much rain on the bank itself and he’s not sure how long the property will be able to sustain grazing.
Parker reported GEI Engineering has the Kern Groundwater Authority seal of approval on going forward with the data management service. The real big news at the KGA meeting was the State Board’s approach to climate change by changing water rights. It sounded ominous Brown said the response was to have KGA’s attorney Valarie Kincaid form a group of other GSA attorneys to develop responses. On the surface that might sound like, “Get a committee and we’ll study it.” But I can tell you water attorneys are sharp and the bench is deep. I wouldn’t want Kincaid to be involved in anything having to do with me trying to take someone else’s rights away.
Phillimore mentioned that some folks found Microsoft Teams to be a less than adequate vehicle to convey the high level functions of KWB meetings. They have switched to Zoom, good for them. He also in an act of unparalleled kindness suggested everyone pitch in and purchase a computer camera for a certain ace reporter. Now, I have to be very clear on this matter in the interest of journalistic fidelity – Phillimore was referring to pirate funds, I mean private funds, not public funds. Unfortunately said reporter has the face for radio and the addition of a camera might scare the children considering said reporter is literally still in his pajamas at 3:40pm when the meeting 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, Wilmar Boschman Semitropic Water Storage District & Kim Brown 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.