The Kings River Water Association held its Executive Committee and Board meeting at its Fresno headquarters on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Today could be a very interesting meeting with the rain and the stories of flooding in the Tulare Lake Basin. Let us see what the professionals have to say about things. Professional, expert – these are words that often hide a biased viewpoint but despite any and everything else the weather isn’t racist and water follows the path of least resistance regardless of how the climate changes.
The Executive Committee
The first part of the show was the executive committee meeting. Vice Chairman Ryan Jacobsen ran the meeting and started promptly at the scheduled 10:00am time. General Manager Steve Haugen called roll and I gave a brief discourse on critical race theory during public comment. There was a big announcement. Laguna Irrigation District General Manager Scott Sills informed the group Eric Osterling has joined his district as Assistant Manager. Osterling was most recently with the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency and before that the Kings River Conservation District. So, he’s back in the Kings Subbasin.
The water report was given by Jennifer Gonzalez and the Kings River falls in the Southern Sierra zone where snowfall is more than 200 percent of average. The Army Corps of Engineers prepares a Bulletin – 120, known as B120 showing snowpack and runoff. Haugen spoke about the record numbers this year brings. An additional one million acre feet has been added to the Kings River watershed runoff estimate since last month. That makes about four and a half million a/f for this year. He said they need everyone to take as much water as possible. There was an ASO flight on the Kings River yesterday and one on the San Joaquin River last week so these figures will all be updated accordingly.
Dennis Mills, GM Kings County Water District asked when the major runoff considerations transition from storm runoff to snow melt. Haugen said it’s not an exact time but while they are hoping for a late runoff it could peak in April.
Haugen said the past month has been emersed in runoff. He said Water Master Matt Meadows has been spending five hours or more per day apprising counties and other entities on conditions. Randy McFarland reported the retirement of Cristel Tufenkjian from the KRCD public relations position was just in time to miss the excitement. He said it has been a while since the KRCD and the KRWA issued a joint press release on a Sunday. He also suggested when more than one entity join together to release a press release they have a coordination plan worked out in advance.
The Legislative Committee met and Haugen reported its recommendations. There is SB 638, a bond act that blames everything on climate change but ends up spending some money on flood control. I believe KRWA is in favor. SB 366 by State Senator Anna Caballero will require long-term water supply to the State Water Plan and KRWA supports. There was a trash can full of bills submitted this year and many of them are directed to strengthen State Board’s enforcement powers and weaken Water Rights all opposed. Assemblyman Steve Bennet’s bills were pretty much all opposed. Bennett seems to want to rewrite SGMA in his image. He got on my radar screen last year when he gave a bunch of brush off answers to questions about his bill (AB 2201) to add draconian permitting regulations to well drilling. More to come.
KRWA has a Fish & Wildlife Committee reported due to high flows many activities have been cancelled but there are decent fish flows at the moment.
The financial report was next and the board moved to pay the bills, approve the treasurer’s report and budget committee. There is talk of installing solar panels at the offices which is a bit ironic since there is a large hydro-energy component at Pine Flat Dam. The draft budget is more than $4 million.
There were questions about KRWA qualifying for certain rebates offered to non-profit organizations. There may be flood water revenue this year. Consolidated ID GM Phil Desatoff said PG&E isn’t getting any kinder and recommended the tenant swallow the cost of solar. The was a good one since the tenant in KRWA’s office is KRCD. KRCD General Manager Dave Merritt was present and warned Desatoff his attorney was present also. Mills suggested suspending the weather modification program this year. That’s cloud seeding. Jack Paxton Chair of the Kings River Water District said it appears to be working well. The executive committee approved recommending adopting the budget to the board.
Under other business Alta ID Chair Jerry Halford announced they have water for sale – price negotiable.
The executive committee meeting then adjourned.
The Annual Board Meeting
McFarland gave his public relations report saying there has been a tsunami of press requests lately. He said it was a regular, quiet year before the storms started rolling in. He said to expect more interest for the rest of the year. He has been working on some material related to the efforts by Semitropic WSD’s efforts to get some Kings River flood flows. He’s also working on getting the Kings River Handbook updated and printed as they are almost out of copies.
Haugen said last year was the 16th driest on record and the rest of his water master report is in print. Ditto for the attorney report.
Jacobsen asked the board to approve the budget as recommended by the executive committee. This required a resolution. A resolution was offered and passed. That was that and things went into closed session for six items at 11:15am or so. Go be good to yourselves and each other.
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KINGS RIVER WATER ASSOCIATION – 4886 E. Jensen Avenue, Fresno, CA 93725 559/237-5567 www.kingsriverwater.org
Water Master – Steve Haugen, Attorney – Joe Hughes