Meet Joel Hastings. Joel is the Editor & Publisher of Dairy Business with decades of ag journalism experience. The transplanted New Yorker now resides in the greater Madera area. The volume of ag water related meetings is overwhelming and we welcome Hastings to WaterWrights.net and look forward to better coverage north of the San Joaquin River.
By Joel Hastings
The Madera Regional Water Management Group met on January 27 at 1:30 p.m. in the Madera County Government Center in Madera. Some were a bit late arriving with complaints about traffic back-ups on Hwy 99… not unusual between Fresno and Madera.
Sixteen attended the session chaired by Tom Wheeler. After the pledge, public comment was invited then minutes were approved from the November 25 meeting.
Reelected unanimously for 2020 were Wheeler as chairman and Carl Janzen as vice-chairman.
The job description for the staff support person was presented and left for members to review. It has expanded responsibilities, including possibly some grant work. Board member comments will be emailed to the chair and to Stephanie Anagnoson, representing Madera County staff, who will email the final version to the board. New duties have been added reflecting growth in the Group’s responsibilities. Current worker Cristi Hansard is expected to apply.
There is already budget for 20 hours a month, plus grant work could provide its own compensation. Madera County and city grant specialists will be involved in any grant writing. Applications will be reviewed in executive session next month.
All fees from member organizations are paid up for 2019 and the cash balance on December 31 was $13,303.89. Statements at the new member rate for $2500 per year for 2020 (up from $1500) have been sent out. Bills were approved for payment.
Anagnoson reported on a workshop in the Mountain Communities. Janzen attended a meeting in Modesto for all the San Joaquin Valley communities. It is possible there may be leftover funds, providing every region with $100,000 and with more dollars directed to higher need areas, pockets of small communities outside major cities.
Angela Islas has just joined Self Help Enterprises and reported on an overview of needed projects regarding private well sampling within the MRWMG. She has done a pilot project reaching into the communities in need of well water sampling, testing seven wells and she developed communications materials for property owners. Working with SHE Isla will prepare a more complete program if approved today by the group.
SHE and the WMG will be submitting the proposal for funding. During discussion, it was suggested SHE put together water info from school districts and other communities. It was also pointed out that addresses of wells for sampling must be accurately obtained. Others are testing too and concerns were that possibly four entities are testing and should work together. Coordination is needed. Need is to focus also on data gaps.
Another information source is the Madera Irrigation District which has results of State Water Board testing done in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Agreements with property owners and disposition of resulting information is especially important.
Isla identified several funding sources in her presentation. Three were local sources requiring matching funds: SJRFA DACI Phase II Funding, Task 12 (technical assistance) and 13 (community building); joint proposal with SHE partner services water well testing program; and joint proposal with Madera Sub basin GSA. The Rose Foundation would provide main funding through its Central Valley DAC WQ Grants Program and Supplemental Environmental Project.
Isla asked for feedback on funding sources identified in the report, specifically Task 12 if technical or Task 13 if it’s more a matter of communication with property owners. All agreed well owners need more feedback as to water depth and water quality. Consensus was to concentrate on Task 12 grants.
Isla and Janzen will report back at the next meeting with more information.
Regarding future projects, Anagnoson says SGMA projects like additional storm basins need to go in the GSPs, updating the plans for 2020.
Regarding SGMA plans from Ground Water Sustainability plans, she said the Chowchilla plan is about ready. Madera is getting ready to submit but trying to iron out coordinating agreements, needing all seven GSAs. New Stone GSA is not going along with the other six in the sub basin. Janzen of MID said SGMA will be off to a negative start because of current low water levels. It was observed that this is one reason for the deadline in 2040, allowing time for work to be done and rain to fall.
Members of the public wanting to comment on GSPs have 60 days after plans are officially uploaded. It’s necessary to sign up on a list-serve for the particular GSA to be notified that the 60-day countdown has begun.
Round I of the Arundo/Silt removal project is underway, at least until nesting season of protected species. The grant remains in the place.
No new members were suggested for RWMG. The next meeting will be held Feb. 21 in Oakhurst.
As public comment, Islas asked about someone from the Group attending the roundtable of regional organizations. It was noted that responsibility is identified in the new administrator’s position.
At the close of the meeting, Janzen said Madera Irrigation District is celebrating 100 years he handed out commemorative calendars, as the meeting broke up at 3:20 p.m.
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MADERA REGIONAL WATER MANAGEMENT GROUP. Madera County Government Center, 200 W. 4th St., Madera, CA 93637 The mission of the Regional Water Management Group (RWMG) will facilitate future coordination, collaboration, and communication for comprehensive management of water resources in the Madera Region. Through the mutual understanding among entities in the Madera Region regarding their joint efforts toward Integrated Regional Water Management we will ensure governance, development, planning, funding, and implementation to make certain that optimal and affordable water supplies & facilities are available now and in the future to sustain this region and its responsible growth.
Tom Wheeler, Chairman; Carl Janzen, Vice Chairman; Contact: Stephanie Anagnoson, Madera County Director of Water and Natural Resources Department, phone (559) 675-7703 x. 2265.