The Kings River East Groundwater Sustainability Agency board met on Thursday January 18, 2018 at the Dinuba City council chambers. Vice Chair Mary Fast called the meeting to order with a flag salute a little after 2:00 pm. We moved through the first portion pretty quick. There were no conflicts of interest, public comment or additions or deletions to the agenda. The minutes were approved with one change, someone was listed as present last time but wasn’t in attendance after all. There will be a community outreach meeting next week on January 24th at 10:00 am here at the chambers and on February 1st at 2pm a workshop on Prop 26 will be held also.
Director and Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes said the coordination between the seven GSAs in the Kings sub basin has reached an agreement. Attorney Lauren Layne said she keeps hearing the GSAs have agreed on how to settle disputes – mediation by non-attorneys. She was pleased to hear this but reminded everyone the attorneys have to look this over.
The consent calendar was passed and the financial matters were also approved. General Manager/engineer Chad Wegley addressed some of the issues surrounding the budget. He said half of last year’s money was unspent and rolled over to this year. A Groundwater Fee Study by Lechowicz + Tseng finds more of the money will be spent on the front end. The deadline for the GSP is 2020 but it will have to be ready earlier because of the time it takes to receive feedback. 2018 will rack up the consultants’ fees and 2019 will be when the outreach costs peak.
Wegley said there will be a DWR webinar tomorrow morning to show off its “fully integrated web-portal” model. He said as soon as more boundary flow info comes in the board will be updated. There is a preliminary draft prepared by the hydrogeologist. DWR has closed the comment period on the SGMA best management practices and will be releasing those soon. Layne said the Prop One funding has not been awarded yet. Not all sub basins made an application. The total amount asked for was “only” $1 million more than available.
Alison Lechowicz is a partner in her eponymously named business and the project manager of the Prop 26 report. She said there are two fees proposed: groundwater and nominal fees. KREGSA has budgeted about $1 million for the next three years. She proposes Prop 26 be used to raise the funds. If I understand correctly Prop 26 can only bill for services rendered. Prop 218 is a permanent assessment. The nominal fees are for agencies with no groundwater pumping or fractured rock aquifer. Six agencies fall into this category and they will be billed $3,250 per year. Most the money will come from pumping fees. The Cities of Dinuba and Reedley have pumping records that show how much of the share they will pay for the $330,200 annual call. She proposed using evapotranspiration, crop reports and surface supplies to determine the remaining budget expense charged to groundwater pumping. The fee for water pumped will be $1.45 per a/f. The study showed the State Board could impose fees from $10 to $86 per a/f for non-compliant sub basins. Layne said it is important to remember this doesn’t include any grant money. Some of that is coming through Tulare County to help offset Alta ID’s costs and she hopes to get a big chunk of Prop One grant money available. She also said she thinks this will put off a 218 election for a while.
There are six undesirable results KRGSA needs to watch out for. Safe yield and sustainable yield are two different things. Safe yield has already been legally defined and sustainable is a new term according to Layne.
Layne didn’t have a legal update for today’s meeting as there hasn’t much motion on the state supreme court. Adriana Renteria from the Community Water Center headquartered in Visalia said the governor’s budget has $84 million set aside for community outreach. So that’s good news. The meeting then adjourned.
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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