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McMullin Area GSA Board June 6, 2018

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The McMullin Area GSA met on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at the Kerman Community Center in Kerman. Before the 2:00 pm board meeting Provost & Pritchard’s Owen Kubit and Randy Hopkins lead a Technical Advisory Committee. I’ve never seen more than half a dozen folks show up to MMAGSA meeting before. There were at 20 members of the public and most of them stayed for the board meeting and more joined to see the show.

Chairman Don Cameron called the meeting and there was no public comment and the minutes were approved without change. Under financial Hopkins reported three checks were written last month. All of them went to attorneys and engineers. That was passed. Directors’ reports were next and Cameron said he went to two outreach meetings; Kerman and Raisin City. There wasn’t much turnout in Kerman and Raisin City had about 25 members of the public. They were concerned about going out of business and having to sell their land. Cameron said Kristal Tufenkjian of Kings River Conservation District had an outstanding presentation. People felt much better after the meeting. He also met with representatives from Consolidated and Fresno ID to talk coordination in the Kings River Sub Basin.

Next was the public hearing for GSA funding. Only a couple of men got up to speak. One said he has a trailer home on six acres with a well. He didn’t see how the GSA will impact him. But his well will be impacted by groundwater levels. I’m under the impression since he has a domestic well the fees could be much lower but that wasn’t mentioned. A farmer said he was concerned about James ID pumping water away from MMAGSA. James ID General Manager Steve Stadler was in attendance. Cameron and Director Matt Abercrombie have been working with Stadler and both said there has been nothing but good cooperation.

The funding was for a Prop 218 assessment of $19 per acre for all parcels bigger than two acres. This was the type of 218 election that required more than 50 percent of the votes to be protest. The number of total votes was determined by the number of parcels; so a 100 acre parcel was even with a 1,000 acre parcel. It would take 2,000 and something protest votes and only two valid protest votes were counted. So, the board passed the resolution to instate the fee. There was even some scattered applause for the victory. Fresno County will provide fee collection services or? Director Jerry Rai asked if this is the only vehicle for collections. He was told since there are white areas it’s best to let the county do the dirty deed of separating the taxpayer from his or her money. 

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan update was given by Hopkins. Of the eight tasks the low hanging fruit of two have been picked and the other six are still being worked on. The goal is to complete a draft by February of 2019. Cameron said there have been meetings specifically with the North Kings and Central GSAs. Hopkins said the other GSAs learned that MMAGSA has been working diligently to prepare its GSP. If nothing is done 125,000 acres of fallowing and 47,000 acres of retired land would be needed at a lost of $185 million of production. Land values are declining with $1.2 billion on the table. Cameron said he thinks both FID and CID were surprised how open and willing to work MMAGSA has been. He believes those districts will be looking at McMullin differently.

Next Hopkins asked for $500,000 for P&P to continue doing what it does. I wasn’t sure if this was the total for just MMAGSA or if some of it will be part of the entire seven GSA sub basin. But I think it was just for MMAGSA. Hopkins said the USBR has a water marketing strategy grant with applications due July 17th or 31st. The goal is to get $200,000 from the Bureau to develop a groundwater credit program and facilitate water transfers with neighboring agencies. Hopkins estimated it will cost about $25,000 to fill out the grant. There is a 50 percent cost share to this grant. I asked fi this will impact the private enterprise folks out there working on developing a water market program. The concern is a GSA takes federal money and gets locked into a water marketing plan that doesn’t work after all the GSP shakedowns occur. I was told this grant will help GSAs develop policy and not dictate policy. It didn’t sound like this grant will hamper future plans.

Tufenkjian gave the outreach efforts update and the website is gaining strength. The next step is to get the ad hoc committee to put together a tactical plan to submit for SGMA compliance. Judging by just the amount of folks at this meeting things are going well. Hopkins said the search for a GSA manager is still on going. Abercrombie is the White Area Committee Chair and said he really hasn’t gotten more than some interest. He sees the possibility of forming the white area into a special district as being a viable option. Director Brian Pacheco said that would take some LAFCo action. He didn’t really get happy about that because he said this area, the MMAGSA is the most vulnerable area in the entire County of Fresno as it has no surface deliveries. Pacheco said he’s a dairyman and he knows first hand how the state will impose its will to the detriment to its citizens. I paraphrased a bit there; but not much.

Since the next regularly scheduled meeting would be on July 4th the board changed the day to the 11th. There was a closed session to cover a lawsuit and that was that.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright   No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW.

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.

McMullin Area GSA – The McMullin Area GSA member agencies are Fresno County, Raisin City Water District and the Mid Valley Water District. Located in Western Fresno County MMAGSA is one of seven GSAs in the Kings River Sub Basin.

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