The Kern Water Bank Authority held its Monday, May 4, 2021 board of directors meeting on Zoom remotely from its Bakersfield headquarters. This should be an interesting meeting. The whole reason for having water banks is for years like this. Don’t you wish you had an extra 100,000 a/f tucked away somewhere? I do. There was mention of offers of $1,700 per a/f at an earlier meeting this morning. Remember we used to have 16 million people and enough water because we’d flood irrigate with the snow melt and that would provide recharge for pumping during dry years. Then an additional 24 million people moved into the Bay area and the Los Angeles basin where they have to import their water. Shouts of shame on the farmers for wasting water with flood irrigation were heard. So ag went to drip irrigation that doesn’t provide any more recharge than your average shopping mall parking lot. Well drip probably provides more recharge than that, but still a lot of the water used in the Valley is exported to the population centers along the coast in the form of food.
Chairman Bill Phillimore called the meeting to order at 3:00pm and had Danelle Lopez call the roll. There was a quorum and things got going with CPA Tom Young who spoke about the audit recently performed by the firm of Brown Armstrong. I don’t believe I’ve heard Mr. Young’s presentation before. He said this is a draft report but so far so good. The final report will be completed in May and Young said not to expect anything unusual. I like the guy. His presentation was clear and less than five minutes long! I highly recommend Brown Armstrong for all your public agency audit needs, at least the entities I go to.
There was something about the bank lagging on getting waivers from some loan agreement documents needed. I’ve only experienced one major financial problem in all the years I’ve been doing this. A district sold a trash can full of property it acquired by tax liens to the attorney’s brother-in-law who was a real estate agent. It smelled funny and a stop was put to that right away. Other than that there isn’t much malfeasance in the public water agency game. Director Rob Yraceburu used to be a vice president of Wells Fargo if I recall. He had some questions about the banking situation but it sounded like Phillimore was able to satisfy him.
Director Dennis Atkinson moved to approve the minutes and the board agreed. Lopez gave the treasurer’s report. It was approved but also noted the PG&E bill is pretty high. I can believe that. There are dozens and dozens of big pumps eating up the juice. Or would that be swallowing the juice?
Consultant John Ocana spoke about how to improve the participant review of how the water bank bills its members and when it is paid. This is one of the procedures that gives the word complicated a bad name. If I was shelling out a couple of million a year I’d probably understand this better. The Kern County Water Agency is involved as it negotiates the contracts with the Department of Water Resources for State Water Project contractors in Kern County. KCWA has to get some information back to KWB but it’s waiting on DWR to give it SWP figures. There are several other IDs, WDs, WCDs, WSDs and sometimes the USBR’s CVP water charges get added along with the good folks in Southern California’s Met that all need true ups. I think that’s why Mr. Ocana was hired, he may be one of the few who can keep it straight in his mind. Fortunately Director Dave Beard works for the KCWA (not to be confused with the WAKC) and his ID4 would like to get these figures sooner as well. Ocana said staff recommends moving conveyance into the O&M charges. Now that we’ve cleared that up. . .
General Manager Jon Parker said recovery requests were above 20,000 a/f in April. Six wells were replaced and the typical depth is 900 feet. DWR has said it can accommodate KWB’s recovery to the California Aqueduct. Director Kim Brown said a meeting with the KCWA indicated there shouldn’t be any problems with the conveyance before September, but things can change. Parker said current recovery numbers are higher than estimates so that is a positive move when it comes to providing water to clients. The usual rate of decline isn’t as severe this year. Water levels aren’t as bad as this time during the 2014-2015 drought.
The bike path construction is still underway. Parker said Kern County realizes KWB has contributed greatly to this project. He suggested putting some benches and a plaque explaining the benefits the bank provides. Phillimore suggested Parker go for it. This idea was well received by the board and I’m glad to see this. Valley ag often hides its light under a bushel. Atkinson came up with the best idea, a series of Barbasol signs.
Superintendent Nick Torres reported it has been difficult to get pipe for one of the pump stations. I’ve heard right now is a good time to be in the PVC pipe business. The big freeze in Texas busted up a lot of pipes driving up demand. Of course drought and the threat of drought also drives up pipe demand.
There are other water banks just east of the KWB. The KCWA has its recharge Pioneer Project there as does the City of Bakersfield. The KWB conveys water through this area and the other bankers want to expand the conveyance for their delivery enhancements and are willing to pay for it.
Parker reported there are turnouts at Enos Lane at the Strand Ranch property. He showed on a map how it is possible for KWB to get more water for everyone. Everyone being KWB, Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD and Irvin Ranch WD.
Torres reported on all things well related. There were six replacements, a rehab for a broken shaft and damaged bowls. Two more repairs are underway. Parker said increased material costs are adding about $100,000 per well. Torres showed photos including a big, new panel set up for VFD pump motors. There are trash issues in the canals and they seem to get worse during droughts. A great deal of carp were put in the canals in the past and have done a great job in helping clean debris and aquatic weeds. Cattle are also grazing on the bank helping with vegetation but there wasn’t much rain as you know, so forage is low and the cattle will have to leave soon.
There has been a sighting of antelope squirrels or some such quasi-mythical beast in Kern County. Unlike just about anywhere else, outside of declared wilderness areas where endangered species are not a pest, the Water Bank likes to get them. It can sell habitat conservation units and kill two unendangered birds with one stone. Make a little money to pass along to farmers and help protect critters.
Monitoring Committee is updating cost allocations. The Kern Groundwater Authority GSA met and attorney Valarie Kincaid came up with some great suggestions on how to deal with the State Board’s latest ideas. Todd Groundwater has a native yield study that will be looked at in depth.
The next item was closed session and that took place at 4:20pm. KWB’s meetings are usually much shorter but with drought comes more responsibility and that makes for longer meetings I guess. That was that.
DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide readers and 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/DAW
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/Jason Gianquinto 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.