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McMullin Area GSA July 15, 2020

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Ger Bennett BannerThe McMullin Area GSA met remotely on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 by Zoom. It turns out Zoom has come under the watchful eye of liberty loving folks everywhere for adding China in quieting dissidents. An unwise action for a company that purportedly represents free speech. The meeting began at 2:00pm as President Matt Abercrombie call it to order. He turned things over to MAGSA General Manager Matt Hurley. There was the offer of public comment and there were no takers. The minutes of the June 3rd meeting was voted as approved.Conterra

The financial matters were next and Brian Trevarrow of Kings River Conservation District has been helping with the books. The payments were approved and Hurley spoke how five annual budgets were included under the 218 Elections. The board was asked to assess $19 per acre to keep the amount current with previous amounts. I believe this is year three of the 218 parameter and the board approved the assessment.

Hurley then spoke about the 2020-2021 budget. There was no comment or discussion and Abercrombie called for the vote. To shorten things the negative vote was asked for. There being none the item passed.

Hurley gave his report saying implementation of approved projects are moving ahead smoothly. The conflict of interest form being used now have met with approval by past boards and after consulting attorney Janelle Krattiger the form will be retained.

Amer Hussain is the project manager for Geosyntec. He leads a team designing a water marketing program for MAGSA. Malka Kopell of Sacramento State’s facilitation program has been leading the outreach portion of the efforts.

Kopell spoke about the stakeholder interview process to gather information and expectations/desires of those potentially participating. Hussain said there is a technical workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29th from 4-6pm by Zoom. This will be a chance to discuss components of a groundwater market, analysis of existing markets and examples of allocation methods. This will be a great opportunity for folks to learn how this relatively new option can work. Hussain said there are five other water markets in various stages of development that have similar concerns as MAGSA. Mainly not having a surface water supply and trading groundwater. Director Don Cameron asked if this will be recorded for those who may have scheduling problems. The answer is yes.

Next was Resolution No. 2020-04 allowing MAGSA apply for US Bureau of Reclamation Water Smart grant. I believe it’s a $1.5 million cost match to install well meters. The board liked it and approved.

MAGSA has partnered with Irrigation For the Future for some grant moneys for a Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation Innovation Grant for on farm trials to determine optimal irrigation scheduling in the MAGSA area. The grant is $1.2 million and MAGSA would need to shell out $200,000 to qualify. This is a study coming out of Oregon State University or University of Oregon or some entity of higher learning due North of us. The board was asked to approve a MOU and it did so.

Closer to home Fresno State University’s Center for Irrigation Technology’s Director Dr. Charles Hillyer and the legendary Sarge Green of the California Water Institute (also at FSU) have a proposal for teaming up. Green is pretty well known but after years of working the westside the MAGSA folks really know him.

Hillyer said CIT is celebrating its 40th anniversary. CIT does a great deal of research and testing of irrigation technology. He also mentioned the Bluetech Valley and Valley Ventures as  part of the program that serves water technology and the water technology business in the San Joaquin Valley.

Now that who they are and what they are up to was discussed a gentleman named what sounded to me like Shawn Ashcan spoke about a proposed project between FSU and MAGSA. If I have Mr. Shawn’s last name wrong please excuse me. I couldn’t hear him but it had something to do with measuring ET and how to update those measurements so they will have the most accurate data to base a water marketing plan on. The weather, crop and soil databases will all be updated. This could presumably allow the area to schedule irrigation more favorably and save pumping.

Hillyer said the project can receive grant funds but to get the $64k available there needs to be a $64k match. Seventy-five percent can be an in-kind contribution. Hurley said he believes this will be part of a complete data gathering package that will help MAGSA to make the decisions it needs to make with the information needed to do so responsibly. He asked the board to authorize him to enter MAGSA into an agreement with FSU for this three-year project. He added it would amount to $14,000 cash and $50k in-kind. Director Jeevan Singh asked what if there isn’t enough in-kind to make the match and what if there is more in-kind than needed could that be rolled over to the next year? Hillyer said the cash contribution is up front and annual. If there is more in-kind then it can possibly be carried over. The board approved.

Next the board was asked to provide grant writing funds to fill out an application for Storm Water Grant Program Phase II under Prop One funding. Hurley said there is $10 million available for this area. The Terra Nova Project is listed already and this could match up well with a $7 million federal grant on this project. The TNP is expected to yield a two acre feet per day recharge rate when completed. That’s pretty good in case you didn’t know. Hurley said there is a master plan being developed to move water around the GSA and this could be a huge jumpstart to that. Next Hurley said the USBR has awarded the GSA $75,000 for a well monitoring project. He’s looking at every grant that comes along. Abercrombie congratulated Hurley and staff on the heavy lifting moving this work forward.

Next was a report on draft policy proposed for MAGSA. The first is groundwater export and groundwater data. Hurley said after talking things over with Krattiger he asked to table the export policy to next month. He did say the groundwater data belonging to landowners will be held privately. Singh asked if the landowner will receive a copy of the info and Hurley said yes. The info will only be released in aggregate. The board approved releasing the draft policy.

Each GSA board has officers and the board was asked to vote on a chair and vice chair for the next year. Abercrombie said he used to be vice chair but he’s been serving as chair. Singh was nominated as chair. He was elected unanimously. Good for him and his board. The vice chair discussion was handled by Singh. He thanked everyone and said it’s a big responsibility and asked to please let Abercrombie to continue until the next meeting. Very gracious. So Abercrombie lead the discussion on vice chair. Director Gagan Batth nominated Jerry Rai for vice chair. He also won unanimously.

Hurley then reported on the GSP saying the water banking location hasn’t been decided yet but progress is positive. The Kings Sub Basin has received a grant and $70,000 will come to MAGSA for well monitoring. He thanked Kassy Chauhan, GM of the North Kings GSA for her work with Fresno County in whipping up a much better well monitoring plan for the sub basin. He mentioned Fresno County’s Glen Allen for his work on this too.

Next was Director reports. Director Brian Pacheco is also a Fresno County Supervisor and sits on the North Kings GSA as well. He said the NKGSA has cancelled June and July meetings while MAGSA has a two hour meeting today and another one coming up in two weeks. As comparison.

Cristel Tufenkjian of Kings River Conservation District gave her update on outreach efforts. She said an email of the water marketing team was sent out. I read that and it was interesting. She said it was the one with the most click throughs. The water policy adopted today will be posted and readership has increased by 11 folks. We got to see a screen shot of her two children by accident. Good looking kids.

The meeting then went into closed session and that was that.

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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.

DWR Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kings 5-022.08

Directors – Brian Pacheco, Jerry Rai, Gagan Batth, Jeevan Singh & Matt Abercrombie.

Staff – Matt Hurley, General Manager. Janelle Krattiger, District Counsel. Randy Hopkins, Engineer