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McMullin Area GSA June 1, 2022

By Don A. Wright

The McMullin Area GSA met on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at the Kerman Community enter and on Zoom. Even though I chose to forego the excellent Zoom coverage with the Owl mic/camera curtesy of Ashley Goldsmith, proprietor of Blue Chair Communications, the short drive to Kerman and the chance to see folks in person was an easy decision.

The Meeting

Chairman Don Cameron called the meeting to order at 2:00pm and got right with it. There was no public comment and the minutes were approved. General Manager Matt Hurley presented the financial reports and the board approved. And the board looked over the draft budget. It will be online at www.mcmullinarea.org and stands a good chance of being adopted at next month’s annual meeting.

GM Report

Hurley said there was a workshop with the board last week and he said the condition of the agency is “excellent”. He said the Governor’s March 2022 Executive Order requires GSAs and counties to have to work together on well permit approvals. He said domestic wells are exempt but there  are two ag wells that passed. One was very close to being of concern but more about that later. There were two bills in Sacramento: AB 2639 requiring the Bay Delta Plan to fast forward and resolve by 2023. That would have been a draconian screwing of epic proportions – thankfully it died the death it deserves. AB 2201 would codify some of the Executive order and add a buttload of additional requirements. It will require a well permit to be posted online for public comment for 30-days which might end up morphing into a CEQA requirement. This bill is by Assemblyman Steve Bennett of Santa Barbara.

Next month is the annual meeting and Hurley said a cadre of folks from Santa Clara Valley WD toured the MAGSA water bank. The environmental review/CEQA is maybe 30-60 from completion. Provost & Pritchard’s Lynn Groundwater will be ready to take a swing at the expansion project.

MAGSA has a plan for getting information about the National Resource Conservation Service EQIP grant for its clients. There is $1 million dedicated to MAGSA landowners. This can help with metering and Hurley said there are other funding programs out there he’s looking at. There’s a $1.5 million application to the US Bureau of Reclamation going out next month.

GSP Grade

Hurley said none of the Groundwater Sustainability Plans passed DWR’s approval. MAGSA has addressed three of the four DWR concerns with 150 pages of revisions out of 1,000 pages. That is the McMullen Area’s contribution to the Kings Subbasin GSP.

Hurley asked the board to add two new items to the GSA’s rules and regulations concerning well drilling. New domestic wells, and really all wells, should be a minimum of 300 feet to get it under the minimum thresholds. If not the well may be disqualified from future mitigation should it become available.

Subsidence is another problem and Hurley said there could be a moratorium on drilling wells that punch through the Corcoran Clay layer. All of MAGSA overlays this clay layer. I asked but you may want to check with the draft and staff – however, it sounds to me the proposal is to stop drilling any deeper than the top of the Corcoran Clay layer. If you try to extract water from within the clay layer that is a surefire way to cause it to collapse and then you’ve got subsidence. What I believe I learned today is – if you pump below the layer, the decrease in water pressure causes the clay layer to sink and squeezes it like a sponge.

Director Jonathon DeGroot asked what about a domestic well that serves a dozen homes that pumps more than two acre feet annually. That is something that needs to be worked out. The draft language will be posted online and ran past the technical advisory committee.

Hurley said he has been pleasantly surprised at how well the Kings Subbasin Coordination is moving forward.

Directors Report

Director Matt Abercrombie said the annexation of white areas into the Raisin City and Mid Valley Water Districts is going forward.

DeGroot said this annexation process has triggered some consultation with the attorneys. He said The Raisin City WD will be meeting June 21st. He expects the discussions will  be in open session.

Director Ariel Namvar said the annexation question for Mid Valley has also been discussed and is moving forward.

Goldsmith gave her outreach report and said it is also posted online. She said she’s been working on an on farm recharge campaign to reach growers in MAGSA. There is an On Farm University consisting of lectures, videos and other means to get a curriculum developed to educate growers. There was a landowner meeting for the landowners who will be impacted by the proposed Aquaterra Water Bank. Also there is a direct mail campaign for domestic well owners asking them to call MAGSA with any concerns of their wells running dry. Once the response is received there are materials available to help. While all of this is going on the contact list has been refined. DeGroot said the water bank meeting was, in his opinion, excellent and a testament to Blue Chair’s good work.

With that the meeting went into closed session for one item of significant exposure to litigation at 2:59pm.

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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, Don Cameron, Jonathon DeGroot, Ariel Namvar & Matt Abercrombie.

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

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