The Kern Water Bank Authority held its Monday March 11, 2019 board meeting at its Bakersfield headquarters. The meeting began promptly at 3:00 pm as Bill Phillimore is still the chair and still a punctual Brit. The roll call showed a complete attendance by the first string board members with alternates either receiving a much deserved day off or relegated to sitting in the uncomfortable chairs along the wall. Like where I sit.
The minutes were approved right out of the gate and Controller Danelle Lopez presented the board with the treasurer’s report and the accounts receivables. The board approved both without comment. The fifth item was a resolution to switch from Wells Fargo to Union Bank but in a twist of fate the KWB is about to pay off Wells Fargo and the resolution was postponed for a month. I may not have that completely correct but I wasn’t the only one. New signatures will be required so no board member was allowed to leave without Lopez’s approval.
Staff reports were next and General Manager Jon Parker and Superintendent Nick Torres said they are putting water where ever they can. The bank is receiving 920 cfs if I understood correctly. There are some problems on the California Aqueduct and the Kern River isn’t flowing onto the bank for recharge. If I understand there is a pipeline down that usually conveys some Kern River water. The Department of Water Resources has announced it is cutting back deliveries until later this month due to repairs. The Cross Valley Canal is also performing under capacity. Still recharge and water levels are doing well for the most part. The bank has received more than four inches of rain in some place and no less than 3.6 inches.
Parker said there are nothing new to report on development of adjacent lands but for the bike path. There is an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan grant floating around out there. It appears a new application has been filed seeking funds for new recharge basins, KWB Canal improvements and a 50-percent matching grant for $12 million to be awarded in the fall. Parker also reported four major maintenance projects have been completed. Levees and roads have been fixed with more needed. The wet land has prevented some of the work. Management doesn’t want a fleet of trucks and equipment mired in the mud. There are still other projects needing funding like a pump station expansion. John Gaugel, Wonderful Orchard’s Director of Irrigation was at the meeting and he has been retained to help get some of these projects off the drawing board and on the ground. He said he’d like to put together a three-year project plan to coordinate the construction. Phillimore said he’d like Gaugel to put together a plan to increase the infiltration rate for a section of land on the westside that keeps silting up. It was mentioned when it comes to having a large pump made you can also conceive and give birth to a human baby on the same time frame. Part of the problem of ordering a pump early is the contractors don’t like to have responsibility of building the plant without knowing all the unknowns so to speak. Phillimore said the KWB may have to take at least a slight risk to get it finished on time. The KWB as a JPA isn’t obligated to put projects out to bid and take the lowest bidder. Will Boschman said there are growers in Semitropic Water Storage District who are experimenting with subterranean recharge with pipes under the ground discharging the water.
Parker reported there is a minor amendment with California Wish & Wildlife to allow the sales of conservation credits and increase of recharge basins. There are still a couple of hundred head of cattle grazing the bank. The bike path is tied up with the minor amendment with F&G.
The Kern Fan Monitoring Committee is meeting soon. The KGA meeting is on March 27th. He said the KWB is a square peg in a round hole because it has no consumptive use. It can’t overdraft, deplete groundwater that wasn’t already banked, 20-years of data show no problem with water quality, no subsidence with the land actually risen 3/4th of a foot since the 1970s, the Kern River goes underground when it hits the bank and sea water intrusion isn’t a problem. That covers all the undesirable under SGMA. The KWB is part of the KGA and the KGA is a JPA.* The KGA JPA bylaws states it won’t go after banking and underground storage. There is a portion of white lands between KWB and Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD’s banks that isn’t experiencing any loss of groundwater. But that land still has consumptive use. Director Bill Taube of Wheeler Ridge Maricopa WSD said there was a presentation this morning that showed the idea of a check book approach of water levels doesn’t work. He said WRM has higher groundwater levels than it should and they don’t know why yet. Parker said the status of the white lands in Kern County is not yet secure.
Wow that was longer than one page and lasted for an hour. Things went to closed session.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright
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, Steve Torigiani-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 & 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.