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North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency March 22, 2018

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The North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency met on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at Fresno Irrigation District headquarters in Fresno. As I waited for the meeting to begin the US Weather Service in Hanford issued flash flood warnings for Tulare County and I hear Mariposa is about to wash away. There are some powerful storm clouds floating about and they are beautiful. Yesterday there was a meeting that lasted all of six minutes. I’m hopeful the NKGSA will follow the spirit of well informed brevity. I don’t recall this meeting lasting more than hour.

Chairman Jerry Prieto called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. We all saluted the flag and Prieto told the board to check the dates of future meetings because things are going to pick up steam quickly. The agenda was OK and Executive Officer Gary Serrato gave the board an update on the weather and the water. He said 20 years ago the flood facilities we do today and that’s why many places in Fresno are not flooded. The US Bureau of Reclamation increased its allocation to the Central Valley Project from 30 percent to 60 percent. The inflow into both Pine Flat and Millerton Lakes are filling fast. The difference is Pine Flat has the room to capture the flows and Millerton Lake is looking like it might have to have a small spill this weekend.

Technical Sub Committee Chair Bill Stretch gave a brief update saying the coordination efforts are working away. Serrato said the coordination meetings are meant to help the seven GSAs in the Kings Sub Basin come together to get GSPs that meet SGMA requirements. The sub basin is just under one million acres in size and the overdraft is almost 250,000 a/f as currently estimated. The underground water moves from the northeast to the southwest. So, some of the Kings River and Friant surface water ends up underground and flows to the McMullin Area GSA. He said Dr. Ken Schmidt and Provost & Pritchard are working on boundary flow estimates. There is a white area to the northern side of the NKGSA that starts at Friant Dam that may have to become a special management area. The coordination meetings are going to have to begin meeting twice a month because none of the GSAs are expected to agree on what their share of the overdraft might be. There is also the question of where and how to house the huge amount of data generated. Serrato said the Kings River Conservation District housed the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan data and this may be a similar situation. He’s already been contacted by the Madera Sub Basin that has the San Joaquin River separating it from the NKGSA about underground flows.

Advisory Committee Chair Luke Serpa, City Manager of Clovis said the big work is currently taking place in the outreach subcommittee and the technical subcommittee. Stretch is also the Assistant Manager at FID. He said there is a good, diverse group meeting to work out coordination. Each meeting a potential chapter of the GSP is discussed. The North Kings GSA shares boundaries within the Kings Sub Basin with the McMullin Area GSA and the Kings River East GSA. The GSAs in the sub basin have to agree on the manner in which the data is treated. In other words they all agree on how the amounts of underground flows are determined.

Serrato said he’d like a finance committee of the board to be formed for the finance sub committee to meet with. The sub committee is almost ready to present a new budget but needs to run it by a board committee before it’s presented to the board. So, Prieto and Director Karl Kienow of Garfield WD are the lucky one.

Dwight Miller, Biola Community District is the Outreach sub committee chair. He said Craig Moyle of Stantec has been very helpful in putting together the Outreach Plan. He also gave special recognition to Sayre Miller for her work. He said everyone else on the committee is staff somewhere and this is part of their job. But not Ms. Miller. She represents ag interests and does it on her own dime.

Miller, Dwight, lead the board through the 55-page plan. He said an important part of this strategy is the Interested Party Database or IPD. He said everyone needs to be on the IPD to get notices from the NKGSA website. Those on the IPD are divided into three groups depending on what information the group needs. This gives the GSA the tools to present a unified message from North Kings. The messages will be updated as needed. The Outreach Plan also has outreach materials such as comment cards and sign-in sheets. Information materials such as newsletters, brochures and fact sheets will be developed as needed. The Outreach Plan helps to connect the public and stakeholders to the GSA. It solicits the public to become involved. He presented a slide that was impossible to read but featured a timeline with multiple lanes. Each lane was a different facet of the outreach effort and coincided with SGMA deadlines. The communication tasks were listed. Prieto said he toured the website the other day and was very impressed. Director Thomas Esqueda, City of Fresno asked how much outreach has already taken place. Serrato said farmers have been targeted since day one of SGMA. He said if they don’t know it’s because they don’t want to know. Sarge Green from Fresno State is on the Outreach subcommittee and he was quoted as saying most folks’ interests don’t go further than, “How much is it going to cost me?” That can’t be answered before the GSP is set.

An attorney from Kevin Dales’ firm said that so far the King Sub Basin dispute resolution agreement is interviewing two candidates for mediator; one retired from the Bureau and one from DWR. One of them will be hired and if the mediation can’t resolve the issue there is still the option to sue the pants off each other.

Serrato said he recently gave a presentation to the State Water Board staff. He spoke to Sam Bowman from the State Board and you don’t want to get a call from him. That means you’re in trouble with the state. Serrato asked about what happens if one GSA in a sub basin doesn’t try and just keeps pumping? He said if things wait until 2040 there won’t be sustainability. Serrato asked just what does adjudication in SGMA mean? He was told the State Board doesn’t really know how that will happen. If a sub basin doesn’t reach sustainability the State Board will just slap a limit on pumping. Serrato hopes the State Board will come to the San Joaquin Valley and hold a SGMA Q&A. Serrato also spoke before the California Partnership. A group where six Valley counties get together and compare notes. He was happy to tell them folks the Community of Biola has a $700,000 grant to put in a recharge facility that will replace all the pumping Biola does. Rudy Hernandez, Biola Community Services District asked what would happen if the State Board drops the hammer. Serrato said the State Board could say nobody pumps more than half an acre foot per year. Not many crops grow on half an acre foot of water. He said the really big question is who will police this?

DeAnn Hailey gave the board the financial reports and it was short and sweet. So sweet the board approved. Serrato had already given the XO report.

The last item was the board reports. Bernard Jimenez, Fresno County said the county now has a county wide GSA group. There is representation from all the GSAs in the county and not just the King Sub Basin. Prieto reiterated his report from last night’s FID meeting. There is an initiative in San Luis Obispo County trying to get all the water classified as falling under the public trust doctrine. Prieto is very concerned about this as California counties have been known to jump on bandwagons. And most important as a member of the Clovis Rodeo Committee Prieto invited everyone to attend the many events coming up. It’s rumored Serpa has entered the mutton busting event.

The meeting then adjourned.

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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.

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