The Kings River Conservation District held its board of directors meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. This is the first time I’ve been to this meeting this year. There have been some changes on the board; Greg Beberian and Kris Kapheim are now directors. This is also Randy Shilling’s last board meeting as this is his last month. Shilling has always been cool with me. Actually just about everyone is cool with me, but not before they got to know me. Shilling was just naturally cool before he got to know me.
Speaking of cool, a gentleman from the ACWA JPIA – Joint Powers Insurance Authority – had some good news to present KRCD due to the outstanding safety record brought about by good policy. He said he really likes ACWA District 5 and he has had good results here. He said he feels at home. He gave the KRCD board and staff a refund of more than $52,000 on one of those giant checks.
Chairman Paul Stanfield called the meeting at 1:30 and after dealing with giant check envy we turned our attention to Kings River Water Master Steve Haugen as he gave his report saying there is a lot of water at Pine Flat but there’s room for more. The past three storms have added a good deal of water content to the snow pack. One more storm could put us on par with 2017, a very good water year. The lower elevations are also showing 180 percent of the April 1st averages. March usually gets four inches of water content in the snow pack. So far this year the water content is more than double and the month isn’t even half over. The DWR Bulletin 120 water supply forecast on March 1st has the Kings River at 131 percent of normal. There could be a two million a/f runoff by July. Haugen said there could be a flood release in early April. He said the James Weir is being treated as the end of the river – about five miles upstream from the Mendota Pool. If there are more storms increasing the water content there could easily be water as far upstream as the Mendota Pool. He also said with SGMA and districts recharging their systems the demand is up.
Tom Flanagan gave an update on the cloud seeding report. He said but for two southern places on the east side of the Sierra Nevada the entire state’s snow pack is from 150 to 300 percent above average. Wishon Lake was 260 percent about normal. Not much on the horizon as for snow. It will start heating up this week and there will be a storm next week.
Director Mark McKean said the KRCD staff did a great job in political outreach. Director David Cehrs said the state is only putting up $11 million for recharge grant funds between all the Kings Sub Basin GSAs. Not so good. Everyone wants some. Stanfield said he was in Sacramento and heard from some political reporters talk about Governor Gavin Newsom’s state of the state speech courtesy of the Gualco Group.
General Manager Paul Peschel gave his report saying Fresno County is looking to change all voting to mail ballots. Increased water quality and water rights fees are being eye balled by the state as another revenue stream. An audit is way overdue. Much like the DMV other branches of California State Government are running around with an open checkbook and counting on the citizens to grant their every wish. There is a water tax proposed as a constitutional ballot initiative for the next election. If that passes it won’t matter what the legislators do. Newsom has gone down to one tunnel through the Delta and that throws a wrench into the process and opens up the alternatives. Dee D’Adamo has been placed as the vice chair of the State Board and he said that’s a good thing.
Cristel Tufenkjian gave her report saying there was a good turnout at the legislative staff outreach day. She said eight of the eleven districts invited showed up. There are a lot of new congressmen, assemblymen and state senators who need education on water issues. Anyone with a district that either has parts of KRCD or watersheds that impact KRCD were invited. Tufenkjian said she attended a recent ACWA meeting. It was brought up at a water tax was immoral as the government shouldn’t tax something people depend on literally for survival. Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula is working on some legislation that raised questions about recharge. Erik Ekdahl of the State Board was saying it was surface water being recharged and should be counted as surface water, if I understood correctly.
Kapheim asked about Groundwater Sustainability Agencies not having liability insurance under the ACWA JPIA. McKean said ACWA may have misspoken too early and there may be insurance available. If it’s not sorted out the lawsuits will start sorting this out on January 1st, 2020.
Charlotte Gallock reported on water resource matters saying the Upper Kings Basin has submitted $30 million for 11 projects, 10 of which are recharge. This is to come out of the $11 million the state has set aside for SGMA help Cehrs mentioned.
David Merritt reported repair work on one of the turbine pipes at Pine Flat Dam has been completed. Units One, Two and Three are up and running. Terra Nova Ranch has signed a contract with Floyd Johnston Construction on the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture & Recharge Project. Terra Nova owner Don Cameron will be presenting this project to the California Water Commission. Merritt said KRCD received a new front loader and staff thanked the board. A fishery framework agreement on the Kings River appears to have a 10-year fund and he said he expects to wrap up the details by the end of the month. Stocked fish are a part of the Kings River and someone asked if the trout get washed down stream during flood releases. Haugen said most of them find still water but others swim up and down the river during releases. Merritt reported California Fish & Wildlife have not received any complaints and the word is spreading. He saw 50 bait fishermen along the river the other day.
Shilling presented the board a brief story. He was appointed to be auditor in 2003 and has finally come to the end. Brian Trevarrow was appointed as the new assistant secretary. Trevarrow was also made a trustee to the district and Shilling said as much of the handoff to Trevarrow due to his leaving has been completed as possible.
Merritt and Stacy Wright will be joined by Trevarrow to replace Shilling on the labor relations negotiation team. Next Shilling was presented with Resolution 19-03 honoring his 15-years of service. Peschel said it has been a pleasure to work with Shilling. He said Shilling gave him confidence. Shilling said the best move he’s made in his career was coming to KRCD from the state. He’s been happy but he said it was time to remodel the kitchen, take care of his elderly parents and father, enjoy his grandkids more and perhaps travel some. Good for him.
Trevarrow gave the financial report saying the budget and expenditures are tracking well. He directed the board to look for the page numbers printed on the report and tell him where they are. He said he may have become number blind. Shilling said it was a trick move because the page numbers where somehow placed on the left side of the page in the middle. By the way this is the kind of insightful accounting reporting you readers new to WaterWrights.net can come to expect. He said a bunch of other stuff about numbers and money. If you’d like an accurate and complete financial report under law you can request the minutes from a public agency report and look at the financial statements all you like. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Trevarrow or any other hardworking public servant keeping it fiscally together for farmers trying to get water. But over the years I’ve learned how tricky it can be to get even a little behind in the conversation. I type about a paragraph behind what’s being said. Breaking news – KRCD will be using JP Morgan for something. Anyway I have a hard time writing about finances. I once had the sleepy little town of Lamont in Kern County owing the federal government $250,000,000. If you’ve been to Lamont you’d know trying to find a quarter of a billing dollars there would be – let’s say difficult on a good day.
There was no closed session and the meeting adjourned.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 by Don A. Wright
Kings River Conservation District – The Kings River Conservation District is located at 4886 E. Jensen Avenue, Fresno CA 93725
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 Kris Kapheim.
Paul Peschel – General Manager
David Merritt – Deputy General Manager
Randy Shilling – Deputy General Manager of Business Operations
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.