The North Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Area meeting was held on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at the Riverdale Fire Department breakroom. Speaking before the meeting with Cristal Tufenkjian she said the night’s mission was to help the board take a good look at ways to fund the GSA. I also got to speak with Glenn Allen who manages the County of Fresno’s Public Works & Planning Department’s Water and Natural Resources Division. That’s a big job title but counties get to manage the white areas under SGMA so Allen has his work cut out. Chairman Mark McKean called the meeting at 5:30 pm and a lady from Self Help Enterprises handed out a booklet it produced designed to help outreach to disadvantaged communities during the public comment section. Directors reports were next but if a director gave a report I didn’t hear it.
Tufenkjian gave the board an update on the special act legislation. There were a couple of errors that needed fixing such as Riverdale Irrigation District instead of Riverdale Water Company and such. The Self Help lady said there has been a problem getting someone from the community of Denair to represent and that took up a big enough chunk of time. The issue was; is it necessary to be a sitting board member from an agency to sit on the GSA board. There was no one from Denair already sitting available. Board member and Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes was very confident this was not a condition. A participating board in Denair can appoint someone. Just to be safe NFKGSA will consult with attorney Aubrey Mauritson. Mauritson wasn’t present but you know; she just had a baby, congratulations.
Kevin Johansson of Provost & Pritchard gave the board an update on the Prop 218 funding investigation and the budget that needs to be included. He said at the last meeting they looked at Prop 218 and Prop 26 for funding but so far the GSA has been funded by donations administered by the Kings River Conservation District. Johansson said the benefit of recharge applies to all landowners and all landowners should pay. I believe that’s what he said. He reviewed Prop 218’s land based assessments. There’s another part to it allows for a fee based, volumetric charge. A lot of water based districts have shifted their fixed costs to assessments as the water sales have not proven a reliable source of income. So, Prop 218 has been a popular manner to raise the assessments. But to implement a 218 assessment requires the proposed assessment is voted on by the landowners. There are special rules to a 218 Election. Between Fresno and Kings Counties there are about 160,000 acres eligible for assessment within the NFKGSA. Johansson put up a budget spread sheet on the overhead. I couldn’t read it from where I was sitting but I think the grand total will be $1.7 million over the first five years. As the GSP is developed costs will go down because once the plan is written and approved there won’t be a need for further costs. So, the price starts at $4.00 per acre and drops to $.90 per acre at the end. That’s all good for the GSP but implementation may cost $10 per acre. I wasn’t sure how long the implementation portion will last but monitoring will go on. There are grants coming in and NFKGSA should get at least $200,000 to help with the GSP development. There may be other grants coming in as well.
Johansson said he hopes to get approval of a five-year budget so the draft engineer’s report required to hold a 218 election can be written. The goal is to wrap up the election by May of 2018. There will be a period between what’s available now through current funding and when the 218 money comes in that needs to be shored up with a short term funding. He said the budget and engineer’s report needs to be approved at next month’s meeting for this timeline to come true. Otherwise I have no idea how the GSA will pay for itself. There could be some warrants issued but they would have to be paid back. McKean said he learned today the McMullin GSA snagged a $10 million grant provided it gets matching funds. SGMA is a program in perpetuity. Once a GSA’s wells are pumping out rainbows and unicorn farts in 2040 monitoring will continue forever. Which brings up the costs of monitoring wells. Johansson said production wells aren’t a good candidate so abandoned wells and dedicated monitoring wells should be used. This issue is one all GSAs are dealing with. The state likes to bite off more monitoring than it can swallow but I’ve heard DWR has been pretty reasonable about getting real about this.
Tufenkjian reported as the NFKGSA has aged more and more people show up and a bigger room is needed. The time of 5:30 pm is good for the third Wednesday of the month but the location will change to the Riverdale Community Center. But the next meeting will be January 10th at this location.
A NGO, the Leadership Council for (here it comes) Justice & Accountability is looking for a letter of support from the GSA to get a grant from Prop One funds. The letter was pre-written and the board approved.
Under other items for discussion McKean reported he attended the California Water Commission meeting and registered the GSA’s opposition to the Tulare Lake Project. He also attended a meeting of the seven Kings River Sub Basin GSAs’ technical committees. He said there is a great need to ground-truth the findings at that meeting that the North Fork is responsible for 40 percent of the overdraft in the sub basin. He wants to form a tech committee and there was support for that. With that the meeting adjourned. God bless, merry Christmas, see you next year.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 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.
North Fork Kings GSA: Directors, Division 1 Buddy Mendes County of Fresno, Div.2 Frank Zonneveld Laguna ID, Div. 3 Carol Hall Laton Community Services Dist., Div. 4 Mark McKean Crescent Canal Company, Div. 5 Leonard Acquistapace Riverdale Irrigation Company, Div. 6 Stephen Maddox Liberty Mill Race Company & Div. 7 Tony Campos Liberty WD