The regular monthly meeting was convened at 1 p.m. on February 15, 2022, by President Jim Erickson. All five board members were attending live with staff at the District offices at 12152 Road 28 ¼ on the south side of Madera. Virtual attendance via Zoom was offered to the public and it appeared three were in attendance along with this reporter. The Board approved the agenda and invited public comment with no response. The Board moved into executive session as scheduled to consider several items of litigation after indication that Director Carl Janzen, as an affected property owner, would not be participating in discussion of one of the items, the ongoing petition for adjudication of rights to the Fresno River before the State Water Resources Control Board. Two items of anticipated litigation and three additional existing items were in the agenda.
The GSA Meeting
Coming out of the session at 2:03 p.m. as scheduled, President Erickson led the Board in the Pledge and said there was no reportable action. With no public comment, the Board recessed and convened as the Board of the MID GSA. Assistant Manager Dina Nolan said there were a few updates, referring to the December meeting, minutes of which were approved later, in which she outlined a number of ongoing projects as part of the GSP. She said here that the GSA is right on track with its commitments. She said she expected there would be some grant funding to respond to the DWR’s preliminary findings on the GSP. With water quality testing being part of the plan, she said letters had been sent to a number of property owners with domestic wells in the targeted sections. She asked if Board members are acquainted with any of these folks, they encourage this effort to monitor water quality as required.
The MID Meeting
With no further discussion, the Board reconvened for the MID meeting, with the first item of business being the unanimous approval of the consent agenda. That included minutes of three meetings in December, the regular meeting and two special meetings held in executive session on matters of litigation. Also approved was the warrant list of bills to pay amounting to $2,408,585.97 and financial reports for November and December. Total cash on hand on December 31, 2021, was $43,562,226.40. Also reported was the required document specifying the board members and staff to whom more than $100 had been paid as reimbursement during calendar 2021. There were six staff and four directors to whom a total of $4,404.06 had been paid.
Next was the Finance Department report from Controller Jennifer Furstenberg. She said that $4.9 million had been received from the County of Madera at the end of January for the assessments and standby charges collected through December 10. All the year-end work for the distribution of W-2s and 1099s had been completed before the deadline of January 31. The MID audit will be performed by Hudson Henderson & Company with field work beginning the week of February 22. A request for proposals to perform the MCWPA audit was sent out February 1 with a deadline of March 1 for interested parties to respond.
Reporting for her department was Tanesha Welch, HR Administrator, who said that an awards ceremony had been conducted for nine employees with length of service from five years to 35 years. She thanked the directors who had been able to attend.
She said that after interviews and appropriate review, four new employees were accepted for the position of Canal Operator I. All in-house staff has completed the first aid / CPR training and fire safety prevention. Also, informative retirement planning meetings were provided to those employees within five years of retirement age. Ongoing is work on the COVID-19 prevention program. Contract review for insurance requirements was also completed.
MID also administers the Madera Chowchilla Water & Power Authority and in addition to routine work in employee relations and benefits administration, a new employee joins the organization as Canal and Hydro Plant Operator, following a retirement from that position.
Next was the report of Charles Contreras, operations and maintenance manager. As we have regularly noted here, his report is detailed in its descriptions for work done and includes photos, with six pages in the board packet. He caught everyone’s attention when he opened by saying that he and his crew were doing the work necessary “if” there is a water season. He quickly corrected himself with help from directors who chimed in saying “when” the water season begins. He went on with his usual detail describing the impressive amount of work on piping, canal maintenance and upgrades and equipment service and repairs.
General Manager Tommy Greci reported that there has been provided financial relief for COVID expenses to MID and other special districts from the state. He said that MID had received recognition from ACWA for its low level of workers comp insurance claims, a fact he hoped would allow better rates in the future. He asked Assistant Manager Nolan to review MID’s work to be recognized in the statewide Districts of Distinction program at the platinum level. The District of Distinction is an accreditation program that enables districts to demonstrate to their communities, legislators, and other key stakeholders, their commitment to operate in a sound, responsible manner, according to the information presented. Districts apply for this designation by submitting financial audits, policies and procedures, and proof of training received by directors and executive staff. She asked that the directors plan to participate in either of the two and a half day training programs being offered, one in April San Diego or in September in Napa. The training is also offered online in four half-day modules. The directors have already satisfied the requirement for module 1, so three more would be necessary.
Regarding water supplies, Greci noted what is apparent to all – January had been a bust and February no better for rain and mountain snow. March, April and May remain. That said, he said he believes there will be a “decent” water season and may even get close to a 100% allocation from Friant. There has been no announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation, but he expects to see some indication soon. He said power plant reconstruction is going smoothly and the facility should be ready for the flows of the water season.
Under new business, at 2:32 p.m. the Board convened a scheduled public hearing on MID’s five election districts as mandated following the national Census. Greci said there had not been enough population change to implement redistricting, but a public hearing is required. However, there was nothing from the public on the Zoom so the map defining the districts as included in the board materials was accepted.
The board unanimously approved a new five-year employment agreement for Andrea Sandoval, the Board secretary and Executive Assistant. Her salary was increased to $100,000 annually with a cost of living component included each year. The Board members thanked her for her continuing good work.
AGM Nolan led discussion of providing a financial incentive for individual landowners in the District to undertake their own recharge projects who would participate in the Natural Resource Conversation Service Cost-Share Pilot Program. When a landowner applies and meets the detailed criteria, up to 75 percent of the cost would be reimbursed. To further incentivize landowners, MID created a fund of $100,000 which would be available to support an additional 15 percent of the cost for approved projects. There was unanimous approval to provide this District incentive and in a related motion, that $100,000 amount was moved into the groundwater budget from the consulting expenses category in the 2022 financial plan. A workshop for landowners to be held in March will provide full information and encourage participation. It was noted that directors cannot participate in the MID portion of the incentive program.
The final item of business is the reports from individual directors. Director Janzen said that he had been elected president of the Friant Power Authority. The long awaited transformer equipment has arrived so installation can begin. He said he had also been reelected as vice-president of the Regional Water Management Group.
Director Dave Loquaci expressed concern for the impact on crops of the lack of rain and the potential early warm weather.
President Erickson said he had attended the recent Friant Water Authority meeting, reporting that the work on the Friant – Kern Canal was finally underway. He also said he had attended a meeting of the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authority on the topic of subsidence. MID has a financial stake in this issue, he said.
At 2:49 the Board went back into executive session for further legal consultations. It came out at 3:26 p.m. to adjourn with no reportable action.
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Madera Irrigation District – 12152 Road 28 ¼ Madera, CA 93637 559/673-3514
Staff: General Manager -Thomas Greci, Assistant GM – Dina Nolan
Board: Jim Erickson, Chair; Tim DaSilva, Brian Davis, Carl Janzen and Dave Loquaci
HISTORY: From www.madera-id.org The Madera Irrigation District (MID or District) encompasses an area of approximately 139,665 acres. MID operates a primarily gravity irrigation distribution system with approximately 300 miles of open flow canal systems as well as 150 miles of large diameter pipelines.
The District has a Central Valley Project (CVP) repayment contract with United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) providing up to 85,000 acre feet (AF) of Class 1 and 186,000 AF of Class 2 water per year from the Friant Division (Millerton Lake). The CVP water is released from Millerton Lake through the Friant Dam, and then conveyed through the Madera Canal for delivery into the District’s service area. The District also entered into a CVP repayment contract with the USBR for the yield from the Hidden Unit (Hensley Lake). Under the Hidden Unit contract, the average annual supply available to the District is approximately 24,000 AF per year.
DWR SGMA # 5-022.06