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Kings River East Groundwater Sustainability Agency April 19, 2018

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The Kings River East Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its directors meeting on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at the Dinuba City Council chambers. I arrived early for a change and city staff were conducting training with defibrillators. There were cops and groundskeepers and secretaries hooking up dummies to electric pads and shocking them. They were pumping the dummies chest and giving them mouth to mouth. It was very interesting to watch. There was one lady, I think a manager maybe, she was dressed nicely. She was so funny. She turned around and saw me sitting there watching and she said, “All of this training but they won’t tell us what number to we can call 911.” I know for sure it was a good thing I wasn’t drinking milk at the time.

Vice Chair Mary Fast called the meeting to order at 2:00 pm and we all saluted the flag. There were no conflicts of interest and during Public Comment Ms. Hylon Kaufmann spoke. She’s with Ranch Systems, a company that does telemetry on pumps. Manager Chad Wegley introduced a new Alta Irrigation District employee, I believe Jerry James, to help with the SGMA load. The board then approved the minutes and there were no communications to review.

Directors’ reports were next and Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendez said he thinks the KREGSA is “sailing along.” That was nice of him. Not all GSAs could be characterized as sailing – some are “lurching along.” It was also nice of the board to approve paying the bills. Wegley gave the treasurer’s report and said to expect more consulting expenses as the overdraft numbers are quantified. That is the key step in defining the problem. From there solutions can be put forward and costs estimated. Wegley said despite having all the documents and Alta ID’s 130-year history in the area Bank of Sierra is hesitant to open a checking account. The KREGSA is new and the bank has a lot of regulatory hoops to jump through. The board approved the report.

The next item was more to the point – the engineering firm of Provost & Pritchard has been developing the quantification of overdraft and allocations for the seven GSAs in the one million-acre Kings River Sub Basin. Once the overdraft of a GSA is determined a GSP can be started. Looking at a color coordinated map of water levels in the sub basin shows the best situation to be in Alta ID. The map was made by Kings River Conservation District and was four-years old. It showed groundwater levels between 40 and 60 feet. The worst was the area northwest of Five Points where the level 240 feet. The map wasn’t big on detail but did give a good overview. Wegley said the next big step and it should be ready by next month’s meeting is the water budget. He said everyone still trusts P&P so they will be very helpful in setting a water budget. As with so many things in water the groundwater to rainfall is counterintuitive. Wegley said this year is a good example. This hasn’t been a wet year but a lot of water has been running down the Kings River. That water makes its way to the groundwater in KREGSA. Also the Prop 26 invoicing is still on track.

There will be a DWR workshop in Clovis later this month. There should be some new news on Best Management Practices but no one wanted to wait for DWR to get the GSP together. Wegley thinks there’s a good chance DWR will issue a template for the GSP in order to give it some continuity across the sub basins. As an example; maybe section two will be water quality so when someone is reviewing a GSP they can find water quality in the same place GSP to GSP. Wegley said one thing he’s pretty sure of is the 2025 version of the GSP will be much different than the 2020. Mendez said the North Fork Kings GSA is looking to raise $10 million in the first five years by a 218 election.

Attorney Lauren Layne gave the board a legal issues update saying an assembly bill AB 2649 by Joaquin Arambula will make recharge a beneficial use. Right now that isn’t the case. The bill also will expedite permits for recharging flood waters. It used to take nine months to get a permit and by then the flood was over. She said the Kings River Sub Basin’s GSAs are developing an MOU for a coordination agreement. There are mediators proposed but not the typical formal judge. These folks will have technical expertise. She said everyone is still working well together and by everyone staying with P&P is a good sign as well. I didn’t hear any names mentioned but mediators will be interviewed tomorrow. I asked what the hours are but got no response. Mendez said Arambula’s bill was written by Gary Serrato in a great part. Serrato is the GM of Fresno ID. Tim Gobler, Wonderful Orchards asked if the cost sharing portion of the coordination will be made public before the board votes on it and the answer is yes. The final draft will be sent to the listed stakeholders. And that was that.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright   No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW.

SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

Kings River East GSA Board – Chair Steven Worthley Tulare County, Vice Chair Mary Fast, Buddy Mendes Fresno County, Fernando Rubalcaba Special Districts Drinking Water, Loren Booth Special Districts Irrigation Water, Jack Brandt Alta Irrigation District and Steve Boos Ag Production. General Manager Chad Wegley, Attorney Lauren Layne