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Madera Irrigation District Board Meeting, April 19, 2021

ConterraBy Joel Hastings

The Board of Directors of the Madera Irrigation District held its regular meeting on April 19, 2022, at the District offices on Rd 28 1/4 in Madera. President Jim Erickson called it to order at 1:00 p.m. Roll call showed all five directors in attendance and the agenda was approved unanimously. There were no comments from the public and no conflicts of interest identified for the executive session which was called at 1:02 p.m. The directors and staff attended at the MID offices while the public had the opportunity to participate via Zoom, with about a dozen listening in. A phone line is also available.

Closed Session

The agenda for the closed session indicated conference with legal counsel on four matters of existing litigation, two of anticipated litigation and three of potential litigation. The session also was to include a performance evaluation of General Manager Thomas “Tommy” Greci.

Coming out of the closed session at 2:04, the open meeting was called to order and the Pledge was recited. There were no items reported from the executive session.

Agency Meeting

The directors convened as the Board of the MID GSA with no potential conflicts of interest identified and with public comment invited. With none forthcoming, the group heard an update that included references to the domestic well inventory for the Madera Subbasin technical memorandum and the GSA annual report.

Assistant General Manager Dina Nolan commented on the well inventory document, which had been prepared with the other GSAs, to identify actions needed for the GSP. She introduced Pete Leffler of Luhdorff and Scalmanini, Consulting Engineers, who presented the information. The study had been funded by a grant obtained by Madera County. He said the initial review by DWR of the Chowchilla and Merced GSPs needed more detail, so this effort is to provide that information.

Detail he presented include these facts. There are 5,898 parcels with dwellings outside water systems. It is predicted that 1,600 wells are or will be going dry based on “dry start” hydrology, which is the current multi-year drought. With an average cost of $30,000 for a replacement well, the current total is about $13 million. It will rise to $37 million over 16 years until 2040. (The complete report can be found on the Madera County Natural Resources website on page 116 of the Rate Study Report.)

Director Carl Janzen asked how many are being worked with the Self Help program, which supplies drinking water. Leffler says his firm has looked at the Self Help counts and the DWR dry well website, but the comparisons are not really apples to apples.

In commenting on the GSA Annual Report, Nolan said there are a total of 27 projects listed in the GSP, with 20 that are MID related that must be completed well before 2040. Of those, 19 are already completed or in progress. MID is very nicely well ahead of schedule. (To view the Madera Subbasin Joint GSP Annual Report, please visit https://sgma.water.ca.gov/portal/gspar/preview/134)

The Board was also given a copy of a letter from the State Water Resources Control Board to the Department of Water Resources dated March 21, 2022, in support of the DWR’s review of the four GSPs for the Madera Subbasin and the memorandum of agreement among the Madera GSAs and the MID GSA. The letter is 24-pages of highly technical information. There are common concerns about all the GSPs including the coordination agreement itself, the water budgets, groundwater levels and drinking water impacts. The letter goes on identifying insufficiencies for each of the four GSPs – the Joint GSP , Gravelly Ford, New Stone and Root Creek GSAs.

In discussing the letter, Nolan said there were no real surprises. She said it does give a preview of what the DWR final report may include.

Executive Order

Nolan also referenced Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-7-22 issued on March 28, a wide-ranging effort to deal with the drought. Item 9 directs that county agencies that permit wells consult with the appropriate GSA to be certain the new or reconstructed well is consistent with the GSA’s plan, is not likely to interfere with the production and functioning of existing nearby wells and is not likely to cause subsidence that would adversely impact nearby infrastructure. In discussion, the directors observed that because all of the land in the MID area is already in production agriculture, any new or rebuilt wells would simply be replacing wells in use that may have water quantity or quality issues, all of which are accounted for in the GSP. The consensus was that MID GSA will send a letter to Madera County, the permitting agency, making these points, thus satisfying the requirement for consultation on new or rebuilt wells in the district’s area. (For a more complete review of the Governor’s order, please refer to WaterWrights newsletter, April 6 edition… https://waterwrights.net/executive-order-n-7-22-april-6-2022/)

District Meeting

The Board adjourned the GSA meeting about 2:30 p.m. and reconvened as the MID Board. The consent agenda was approved unanimously which included meeting minutes from February and March, the warrant list of payments through March 31 totaling $2,469,360.44 and the January and February financial reports.

Staff reports were the next items. Controller Jennifer Furstenberg highlighted Finance Department activities which included preparing the calculation for Subordinate landowners 2022 general assessments. Invoices will be mailed out this week and payment is due June 20, 2022. The interest portion of the bond payments have been made. The 2015 bond amount was $433,000 and the 2016 bond amount was $407,000 for a total of $840,000. The State of California published CPI (COLA) is 4.7%, with salaries adjusted effective March 1, 2022. At the March 30, 2022, board meeting MCWPA accepted the proposal from Hudson Henderson & Company Inc., to perform their audit; field work started April 12, 2022. The field work for MID’s 2021 annual audit has been completed which was presented shortly.

Tenesha Welch, Human Resources Administrator and Risk Manager, reported on standard HR activities with staff, benefits activities and insurance risk management reviews, including cyber liability. Training programs included a presentation from Noble Credit Union planning for retirement and director training at a public agency risk management conference held in San Diego earlier this month attended by four of the directors. A fifth will take the course online. The Board members as active farmers expressed envy that UC Davis had made a presentation to District workers on controlling ground squirrels and pocket gophers along the banks of canals. They wondered if that were really a possibility!

The detailed engineering and operations report was included in the agenda materials in all its detail and presented here by Charles Contreras, operations and maintenance manager. As we’ve reported, the Board appreciates his systematic review of capital improvements, ongoing maintenance of the ditch and pipe infrastructure along with work on the District’s extensive vehicle inventory and innovative welding shop. Work is pausing on a couple of the bigger projects in preparation for the upcoming water season.

Audit

By appointment at 2:45 p.m., Kip Hudson of the accounting firm Hudson, Henderson & Company, Inc., of Fresno, presented the District’s audited financial report for the year ending December 31, 2021. He said he appreciated the support from staff accessing all the required information, made easier with none of the COVID restrictions of the past two years. He said it is a clean finding with no disagreements with management. He did point out, as he had to staff, that more attention to obtaining three bids as required with related documentation would be desirable. There was no disagreement about that, but it is the case that sometimes the technical specifics for equipment to be purchased means there may not be three qualifying vendors. With a net position of $67,903,416, he said the District’s financial condition is sound. The Board accepted the report unanimously.

GM Report

In his General Manager’s report, Greci called attention to the upcoming ACWA spring conference set for May 3 – 5 in Sacramento. He said board members could still register if they tell staff promptly. Along with Board Secretary Andrea Sandoval and Assistant Manager Nolan, he reviewed the large number and wide variety of public outreach meetings they had attended, including service clubs, school groups and ag organizations. He said there is much interest in District activities and presentations are well received. He did confess to losing control of a fourth grade class during one session.

Water Report

Greci reviewed the water supply situation, recalling that the 15 percent Class 1 allocation had been announced but was still in jeopardy. He said the recent wet weather is helpful but there are still a lot of variables, including the demand for Friant water from the exchange contractors with senior rights. He said he’s hopeful the water season might be similar to last year. He continues to scour the countryside to find water to purchase.

Elections

In new business, the board agreed to formally request that the county elections commission schedule District elections for Division 1 (Dave Loquaci), Division 2 (Tim DaSilva) and Division 3 (Brian Davis).  Dates were set for the board of equalization hearings on Tuesday, June 14, which will also include a regular board meeting and Friday, June 17, both hearings at 2 p.m. The regularly scheduled board meeting which would have been on June 21 will not be held.

The concluding item in the open meeting is always reports from the directors. Janzen said that the new transformer at Friant has the two power plants running at full capacity. He, Loquaci, Erickson and DaSilva had all attended the training meetings in San Diego. Loquaci said the county is sending out notices for GSAs rates and details about upcoming informational meetings including about Irriwatch, the satellite monitoring system. Erickson said he had attended a Friant meeting and there is still much to be done prepare for the Friant / Kern Canal repairs.

Happy Birthday

The group wished Janzen a Happy Birthday and then went back into closed session at 3:20 p.m. The Board came out a little after 4 p.m. and with no reportable action, adjourned.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by WaterWrights.net

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

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