The North Kings GSA held its board meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2021 on GoToMeetings. I write these reports on my old, trusty laptop with crumbs and coffee spills. It has all the templates and passwords on it but the old camera doesn’t work anymore and the turning the mic on and off gives me impotent tech rage. It’s a thing, Google it. I hit the same buttons in the same order and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. So, anyway, the GoToMeetings chat feature was turned off and I wasn’t being rude when I didn’t respond to greetings. Well, this night’s meeting should be relatively mellow as a night meeting should be. It will revert to an evening meeting when the sunset comes later in the day.
Chairman Jerry Prieto opened the meeting at 6:00pm with a flag salute. Next Executive Director Kassy Chauhan asked the invaluable Lynn Rowe to swear in Steve Pickens as Director and Shay Bakeman as Alternate Director for the shared seat. Congratulations to them. Other house keeping items included reviewing the agenda, approving the meeting schedule for 2021, there were no conflicts of interest or public comments. I guess the minutes were approved but I didn’t hear it happen.
NKGSA has had a vacant seat and a making the appointment has been put off until this evening’s meeting. There are three candidates: Eduardo Antunez – General Manager of the Biola CSD, Kyle Moeller – Senior Irrigation Technician Fowler Packing and Moises Ortiz – GM Malaga County Water District. Each candidate gave a brief presentation of their background and reasons for wanting to serve.
Having friends and family in Biola over the years it was interesting to hear Antunez’s passion for that community. Moeller is a Cal Poly grad with a post grad degree in water management from Fresno State University. He said Fowler Packing is also a grower with a presence in several GSAs from Madera to Bakersfield. He also is a de-minimis pumper living in a white area east of Clovis. (No racial jokes.) I live east of Clovis also. Ortiz has a long history at the Malaga County WD and has worked his way up to GM.
Each director was asked for a nomination to the board. Ortiz and Antunez were nominated and voted on. Ortiz received three votes as did Antunez. Chauhan asked attorney Kevin Dale for some help. There are six seated directors, two candidates with a tie vote. Dale said there is no tie-breaker in the bylaws it is up to Chairman Prieto to determine if the casting of lots – a flip of a coin literally – is the board’s pleasure in choosing the new director. Chauhan said the board has the authority to seat the director and more than one alternate, if that helps. Prieto asked if the board is OK with a coin toss and everyone was OK with that. Prieto asked Dale to do the honors but the lawyer was by himself and sensibly wanted a witness. He recommended Chauhan toss the coin, but she too was alone. There wasn’t any place with two or more folks in one place to conduct the toss. Prieto asked Chauhan, Antunez and Ortiz to meet him at Fresno Irrigation District tomorrow for a witnessed coin toss. They all agreed to do so after 1:00pm. Just then Chauhan announced FID Assistant Manager Adam Claes said there was someone in the building and those two can do the toss. Everyone agreed and the toss came up tails. Ortiz won the toss saying he played football and “tails never fails.” At this point a motion was made to appoint Ortiz as director and the vote was unanimous.
The next step was to choose alternates for the seat and there can be more than one alternate. Antunez was nominated as first alternate and the vote was unanimous. Prieto asked the board if they would like a second alternate and the board nominated Moeller. The vote was unanimously in favor. So all three candidates came away from this with something.
Chauhan asked Rowe to swear in the new director and alternates. The oath of office was the usual one supporting and defending the constitution of the United States and California against all enemies. This oath didn’t include the extra language involving agreeing not to join a party wanting to overthrow the government. That extra language was included in the oath recently sworn by a new Westlands Water District director. Prieto congratulated all the candidates. Chauhan told Ortiz he will now be included in the roll call of votes.
Kings Subbasin Coordination Report
Provost & Pritchard’s Ron Samuelian gave an update on the $4.8 million grant application for the Kings Subbasin. These included two projects in the NKGSA and both involve benefits for disadvantaged communities. That’s a plus when it comes time to score. There is another $60 million in the next round of grant awards for SGMA. But that amount is for the entire state and Samuelian reminded folks the state has no intention of paying for what it’s requiring.
Construction of monitoring wells are happening throughout the subbasin and the McMullen Area GSA is exploring some new water marketing programs. On a recent call with DWR Samuelian said staff recognized everyone is at the beginning stages and that was a welcome revelation to show there will be some flexibility in getting up to speed.
Claes presented a slide showing the eight lowest years for runoff to Pine Flat on the Kings River. This is the second driest year on record so far. This week’s storms have yet to be included in this census. Within this past week January has gained from zero to one/third of the average precipitation. Claes said prior to the storm we had 15 percent of average and by this morning the percentage is at 30. Projected temperatures will be average but snow and rain is expected to be below. Prieto said he received inches of rain at his house so far this week. Claes said there is a good deal of variation with the Fresno metro area receiving much less rain than the eastern part of the district.
Advisory Committee Report
Scott Redelfs, City of Clovis gave his report saying there was an advisory committee meeting earlier this month. That committee recommends paying the bills. That was all he had to say. Chauhan said the much discussed pump permitting policy looks like it can be brought to the February advisory committee meeting then the board. After that the anticipated workshop for well drillers can take place. Chauhan said the policy and procedure for gathering data from member agencies should soon be finalized and brought to the advisory committee as well.
DeAnn Hailey gave the financial report and dealt with the budget. She said everything is well within the boundaries of ordinary. There were no questions and the board approved her report and will pay its bills.
Chauhan then gave her Executive Officer report saying 2020 was a fast year. She said the highlight was submitting the GSP and the Kings Coordination Agreement. Two very big milestones. There were successful monitoring grant funds secured. Chauhan became the XO for NKGSA this past year. P&P has come a long way in developing a monitoring well network. Stakeholder engagement has blossomed this past year. She credited the outreach committee for this success. She thanked everyone for the heavy lifting required to get the GSA to where it is now.
For 2021 the priority goals having the member agency responsibility in place and everyone knows how to react to reaching groundwater goals. She said the GSA will continue to develop the monitoring well network and aggressively go after grant funding whenever available. There were no questions but Prieto thanked her for her hard work.
Chauhan said the news of Prop 68 funding maybe being available earlier than expected is a good thing. Policy improvement and implementation efforts will continue to be completed this coming year. It seems experience has been the best contributor to a sound policy. Don’t forget There weren’t any GSAs three years ago so all of this is new.
Chauhan has been involved in the San Joaquin Valley Action Plan where all manner of folks are coming together to try and write a vision statement. NGOs, ag, municipalities and other interests are involved. Outreach by the internet is continuing.
A boundary flow study is underway and Chauhan will be keeping the board up to date as more information becomes available. DWR will be revising well construction standards and Chauhan is involved in this effort as well. What don’t she do?
Prieto asked for an update at the State Board hearing on the proposed Kings River water right changes. Chauhan said about 15,000 notices were sent out to impacted stakeholders – I got one and didn’t even realize I was impacted – about a prehearing on Semitropic Water Storage District’s application to take Kings River flood flows to Kern County. The hearing before the State Board to discuss the matter is scheduled for later this spring.
Prieto invited the directors to chime in but no one had anything to report beyond welcoming Ortiz to the board. That was all there was to that. The meeting adjourned at 7:22pm. Bedtime.
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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.
MEMBERS: Bakman Water Company, Cities of Kerman, Fresno and Clovis, Fresno County, Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District, Garfield Water District and Fresno ID
Executive Director – Kassy Chauhan
DWR # Listing: Basin San Joaquin, Sub Basin Kings 5-022.08