The Kings River Conservation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at its Fresno headquarters. It’s rained hard this past weekend and as usual that makes ducks, frogs and farmers happy. So after KRDC President Paul Stanfield called the meeting to order at 1:30pm the public comment item was first. I was the only one with a suggestion and perhaps someone will replace or fix the sign out front. It’s difficult to read as one drives by and has to turn around down at the next intersection and if you’re running late, well. Anyway the next item was the audit report from Price Paige & Company.
Two nice, young gentleman wearing suits began to talk. One of them sat down after referring to retirement funds. The one who didn’t sit down warned those assembled it could take a while to go through the audit document page by page. It was painful but it could have been worse; he spoke English clearly. I would like to see a rule implemented requiring CPAs giving verbal reports of audits of public agencies to have to do so in Pig Latin or Native American Indian sign language. The bottom line, if I understood, KRDC is being a responsible steward of the public trust and the board approved the audit.
Water Conditions was the next topic and 431,000 a/f of storage at Pine Flat is currently nestled behind the dam and 200,000 a/f of flood release space left according to Steve Haugen, Kings River Water Association Executive Director and Kings River Water Master. Storage is in good shape and considering this recent storm was the second latest on record, I believe he said. There are two new snow pillows in the Kings River watershed. Haugen said there is an experimental forest up there somewhere that has snow sensors that haven’t been recorded before. They are now in the loop and have extensive data reporting capabilities. Director Greg Beberian asked if there are any other monitors up there not reporting and Haugen’s short answer was no. Haugen also said state and federal funding for the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory isn’t going to come through. It will take local funding to get the ASO up and away. He sees further funding next year likely. He also said the NASA data from last year saved 70,000 a/f of water loss and the more experience gained the better the benefit. There is momentum to get the NASA ASO funding through the state next year. He also said the mountain ranges to the north of Sacramento have rain fueled flood problems while those to the south of Sacramento rely on snowpack.
Weather modification was next and the consultant from American Weather Consultants who will be running things reported about the coverage to the west of the Sierra Nevada and east of Highway 99. There are flight lines and ground generator stations in that area that seed the clouds. He said normally we’re above normal around here. I wasn’t sure what that meant and when he said it will be cooler and wetter for the foreseeable future I agreed.
Under director’s reports Mark McKean said he went to ACWA and mostly attended SGMA related meetings. Chris Kapheim said he went to the JPIA meetings and SGMA as well. He said the State Board’s Erick Ekdahl has moved to DWR to review GSPs to watch out for faulty water accounting. Mike Yoshimoto reported he went to the ACWA JPIA and reported they have no idea from history regarding all the wildfires. David Cehrs reported he was in Australia where they are in year three of a drought. The government has indicated it will lower the demand by buying out the ranches. He said don’t trust the Australian water market model. Cehrs also went to ACWA and spoke with some attorneys concerned getting PFOS plastics out of the Southern California water supply. He said it could be cheaper to purchase water from elsewhere than clean up what they got. He also said he felt ACWA greatly ignored the San Joaquin Valley again.
KRCD General Manager Paul Peschel gave his report saying S1932 by Senator Diane Feinstein has some good points worth supporting. The California Water Commission has been tasked to be sure any WIIN Act funding that doesn’t conform with Prop One isn’t approved. This is yet another poor example of governing by political theater. Prop One requires benefits to the Delta and there are lots of water ways that have no impact or contact with the Delta. Kings River for one. Why should a project on the Kings River not receive WIIN Act funds? Peschel said Kristine Applegass(sp?) spoke at many ACWA meetings about how ACWA is more proactive in supporting agriculture. UC Irvine gave a presentation about the economic value and impact of water. The Governor Gavin Newsom administration wants to sue the feds over the biological opinions; DWR and other state agencies have been working cooperatively with the US Fish & Wildlife and other agencies. In other news the NRDC replaced its Obama era EPA staffer Rhea Suh as president with Gina McCarthy former Obama EPA Administrator. ACWA is coming up with more insurance for GSAs and this will be leveraged as an ACWA membership drive. Careful what you wish for as more GSA involvement means more penny pinching farmers. This insurance should provide protection for more than just errors and omissions by the GSA board members and include litigation over GSPs.
Cristel Tufenkjian, Communications Director for KRCD said she attended a luncheon in Selma with State Senator Melissa Hurtado that had Kip Lipper from the state senate protemp’s office and Juan Esquivel from the State Board. Tufenkjian and her team also won ACWA Huell Howser* Communication Outreach award for its SGMA work. Good for her and Rebecca Quist and Paul Peschel and the rest of the folks who worked so hard. I think it was a good choice. Of all the GSA outreach I’ve witnessed, and I’ve seen some, the KRCD did an exceptional job.
Charlotte Gallock, Water Resources said there will be outreach meetings for management zones regarding the basin plan amendment. There could be a clock started by the State Board this coming March with 270-days to develop a governing structure. KRCD is working on a fill station in Hanford. The permitting process takes longer than the construction. Same with the Dinuba and Kerman locations. The GSAs in the Kings River Sub Basin are interested in partnering with KRCD on a subsidence monitoring plan. Sounded pretty good.
Dave Merritt, Deputy GM gave an update on power generation. There are three new, digital control panels for the generators to be delivered later this month. It should be ready to rumble by February. KRDC is also installing a pumping station off the Kings River near farmer Don Cameron’s Terra Nova Ranch. Merritt said crews will clean out a bunch of trees and trash near the Clark’s Fork confluence that should great improve capacity in that area.
CFO Brian Trevarrow spoke about rising costs of insurance; liability was one area that the costs have risen. He gave the rest of the financial report and the board agreed to pay its bills and approve the report. Next, Trevarrow introduced another couple of young men who will work on the district’s information technology needs visa vee a power outage at the offices last month that cause two pieces of equipment to be lost and getting back online was greatly delayed. The company called to fix things then was PC Solutions and they want $229,000 to straighten things out from now on. The board agreed to the agreement with PC Solutions as a bridge until a better contract can be written.
The meeting had no closed session so that was that.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright/www.WaterWrights.net
Kings River Conservation District – The Kings River Conservation District is located at 4886 E. Jensen Avenue, Fresno CA
Phone 559/237-5567 and meets at 1:30 pm on the second Tuesday of the month at district headquarters.
Paul Stanfield –President, Dr. David Cehrs – vice president, Ceil Howe Jr., Mark McKean, Greg Beberian, Mike Yoshimoto and Chris Kapheim.
Cristel Tufenkjian – Communications Director
Charlotte Gallock – Director of Water Resources
KRCD – In 1951, the State of California took steps to secure its natural resources in the San Joaquin Valley. Through special legislation, the Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) was formed. Today, KRCD is a leading resource management agency for the Kings River region serving agriculture, business and residential communities within 1.2 million acres spanning portions of Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties. The mission of KRCD is to provide flood protection, cooperate with other agencies to achieve a balanced and high quality water supply, provide on-farm support in efficient water conservation practices, and develop power resources for the public good.