The Kern Water Bank Authority met on Monday, December 11, 2017 at its Bakersfield headquarters. I stopped by Harris Ranch Inn on my way to Bakersfield today. It is a bit out of my way but I wanted to check in on Westlands Water District’s gathering to see what charitable giving is being planned by those growers. I’m tired of hearing about greedy, corporate farmers taking all the water blah, blah, blah. I’m interested to see how much the Natural Resource Defense Council gives to the homeless. They might give something, I don’t know, but I think it will be interesting to see how greedy corporate environmentalists help the less fortunate. The meeting was held in the ballroom and I was taking photos. I popped in the near door and took a couple of photos and as I didn’t want to walk through the room to get pics from the other side so I took the hallway all around to the hall’s west end. On my way back I ducked into the men’s room and it wasn’t until I was washing my hands I realized I’d been in a public restroom with a camera hanging around my neck. Not my finest moment.
Back at the meeting. Chairman Bill Phillimore called the meeting to order at 3:00 pm and before you knew what hit you the minutes were approved. Danelle Lopez gave the financial report and even talked the KWB board into paying its bills as well as approving the report. It was interesting to know the water bank is one of the very important wetlands on the Pacific Flyway and that might dissuade the enviros from suing.
General Manager Jon Parker gave the staff report and said this was the record year for recharge with more than half a million a/f this year. Recharge will most likely stop on December 22nd until another source turns up between now and then. Three broken pumps on the Cross Valley Canal are also slowing deliveries. There is about a million a/f available. Water levels are going up with the deeper levels making headway and Parker expects the shallower levels to begin rising as well. Maintenance goals haven’t changed and ongoing projects are still going on. The bike path’s comment period is about up and there are no signs of a lawsuit developing. Phillimore said this project is developing good will and of course that’s of great value. The Kern River Raceway is up for sale. I don’t know if the asking price is $15 million but that’s what I think I heard.
The 2017 capital projects were budgeted at almost $3 million and Parker doesn’t see as much as $850,000 being spent this year. Part of the reason there was less spent was the costs of drilling wells went down dramatically after the drought broke. Also the budget figures were developed during the middle of the drought. Director George Capella rhetorically asked what to do with the savings and I think it was Dennis Atkinson who said, “Drill baby, drill.” There are no cattle at all on the water bank and there won’t be until staff determines the amount of available feed.
Under committee reports Parker said the next Kern Fan Monitoring Committee isn’t until January. The Kern Groundwater Authority’s coordination committee is meeting right in the middle of this meeting. There will be KGAGSA board on December 20th. The expected topic is the general member budget and KWB’s share could be a small as $5,500 if the hoped for grant money comes through. The KGA was designed to allow more than one entity to hold a seat at the table: i.e. municipalities could join together to save cost. As attorney Ernest Conant pointed out KWB doesn’t deal with groundwater – it deals with stored water. What does that mean for modeling costs? KWB doesn’t necessarily feel it needs to be a stand alone member. KWB could partner with the Pioneer Project – the Kern County Water Agency’s banking facility. If I heard correctly there is an option on the table for the Pioneer Project to switch from the KGA to the Kern River GSA. Atkinson advocated for the KWB to stay in the KGA. Phillimore wanted the board and staff to develop a list of issues believed to be the most important in regards to SGMA. Phillimore asked to place this on the agenda for the foreseeable future. Parker said the Three-Year Capital Budget ad-hoc committee for pumping and is awaiting a design proposal. The Future Projects Feasibility ad-hoc committee had not report. Old business and new business had nothing. Will Boschman was representing at the recent ACWA JPIA meeting.
The meeting then went into closed session for nine items.
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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 Scott-Accountant, Ernest Conant-Attorney, Nick Torres-Superintendent
Board: William Phillimore-Chair Westside Mutual Water Company, William Taube-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 & Scott Hamilton 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.