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North Kings GSA Advisory Committee August 14, 2020

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Ger Bennett BannerThe North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Advisory Committee on Friday, August 14, 2020 remotely on GoToMeeting. Before the meeting there were some technical fiddling around. Most of the attendees didn’t have names appear, just A1, which means attendee one and so on. Also, there was like eight A1s on the line. That made it difficult to establish a quorum. Executive Director Kassy Chauhan had a bit of a time getting things organized. Some of the members were in the same boat I was in as much as we couldn’t be heard and in my case unseen.Conterra

Chairman Scott Redelfs, City of Clovis called the meeting to order at 1:34pm my time. Chauhan read the NKGSA remote meeting policy. Public Comments have to be written and sent in early or if you call in you have to call in an hour early. But there were no public comments so that was a fast agenda item. Chauhan called roll and there was a quorum with a few members of the public listening in.

The agenda started with approval of the minutes, which were approved as is, and consultant Ron Samuelian of Provost & Pritchard gave a basin coordination update. Samuelian said the DWR portal has been a depository of comments on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan and most GSAs throughout the state are doing so. He said data collection for the GSP is coming along. The County of Fresno will be hosting a meeting next week for well drillers to go over the new permitting process. There is a DWR grant out there for GSP implementation and the state is only accepting one application per sub basin. There is $26 million available total for $5 million maximum with this going to disadvantaged communities DACs. The applications won’t be accepted before the end of the year.

Chauhan next went over the financial update saying member agency invoices were sent out at the start of the fiscal year which was July 1st. She said if anyone hasn’t received it yet to get in touch with her or Deann Hailey at Fresno ID. I just received a check from a client sent out the first part of July. Go vote by mail. FID’s Adam Claes said his agency is bringing in a large chunk of the surface water and has a large distribution. He said he’d like to see the process reviewed for next year. Chauhan (who also works for FID part time) said the City of Fresno has also expressed some concerns about the cost share and asked if she should be preparing for such a review. Redelfs asked attorney Kevin Dale if that type of staff direction needs to be agendized and it does. So we’ll be seeing this next month.

Next Chauhan said NKGSA is fully committed to the GSP process. She said as an example. there needs to be some rules, regulations and policy in place to help ensure the GSP is implemented as well as possible. She said there is presently no formal policy in place for reporting by member agencies in their progress in meeting overdraft correction. Another area needing attention is timely updates for when new wells are drilled or removed and there is no provision for any additional information or comments. She recommended a new well policy to guide NKGSA responses to wells. She suggested developing an advisory work group to develop new policies. She said she found some old correspondence about the need for policy and a development procedure for further down the road and we’re further down the road now.

Claes said having policy and guidelines for the member agencies will set things up for success. He believes this is very much a needed next-step and endorsed Chauhan’s recommendation. Glen Allen of Fresno County asked if this is a standing committee and will involve the two issues mentioned. Chauhan said this would not be a standing committee but a workgroup as defined by the earlier passed workgroup policy resolution from a couple of months ago. Allen also wanted to know the membership criteria. The Advisory Committee members can have one member from each agency in the workgroup, three members of the public and former ad-hoc committee members can all have a seat at the table. Chauhan would notify the selected members to meet and what they would be meeting about and after that workgroup has developed a policy recommendation it will go to the Advisory Committee from there to the board. She said this will be the first workgroup formed and some hiccups may arise and have to be dealt with for the next workgroup.

Redelfs said while there were two issues mentioned; he wanted to know if the workgroup will be able to deal with other matters policy matters. As I understand it, only the two issues mentioned in Chauhan’s introduction will be dealt with in this workgroup until other issues are brought up. Sue Ruiz, Self Help Enterprises said she likes the structure allowing as much transparency as possible and she likes limiting the scope of what will be discussed. She also said to be mindful this is a workgroup and should not be referred to as a committee. The Advisory Committee approved forming the workgroups and the board will be so advised.

Chauhan gave her XO report right as I got a phone call from a client who graciously agreed to let me call back later. I realized had this been a regular in person meeting I normally would have turned my ringer off and let it go to voice mail. I may have to revisit my meeting attendance policy.

Chauhan said most of the comments received from the DWR portal were already addressed in the GSP. Some of them recommended the state not approve the GSP. DWR has yet to make its comments and NKGSA decided to wait until DWR’s feedback is available before responding to the comments. However, all the comments are being considered and responses prepared in case they are needed. These comment responses are based on provisions and sections in the GSP that meet the SGMA requirements in question. There are a lot of studies and papers out there claiming GSPs are not taking into account whatever issue points the authors believe need to be favored; many of these criticisms are not based on SGMA requirements. Others are unknown as in many instances the data needed to address the concerns has yet to be gathered. This data gap is being taken into account and future planning will take place.

A big part of most GSPs is DWR only accepts one plan per sub basin. Doesn’t matter how many GSAs per sub basin, just one GSP. However, each GSA can write its own chapter. And almost every GSA is comprised of many members. The big deal is how to divide the responsibility for overdraft amongst the members. Samuelian said the process has been hampered greatly by the Big Marxist Virus. It is a very complicated topic but at this time the same science and methodology will be employed. Chauhan recognizes this is going to be intense enough a chore without having to do so remotely. She said she’ll be soliciting member representatives to get reengage on this topic.

Chauhan reported on her external affairs work. She spoke with some college students to clarify a GSA’s role in water quality and which GSA the student is working in. It was training for data gathering. I think she said Fresno State so we already know she spoke to a sharp bunch and that’s good to know since the State Board is somehow involved. She also spoke social media and email outreach. Her goal is to keep folks informed in an isolated world. There is some grant money available and asked if it makes sense to work with other GSAs in the Kings Sub Basin on local matters or if it makes sense to come up with a more generic SGMA presentation that can be used with other sub basins. Ruiz said she believes it is time to start working beyond the local sub basin. Chauhan said this is an example of why it is so good to work with the Kings River Conservation District for outreach. There are some real economy of scale savings available.

The monitoring network was the next item. Chauhan said FID is developing agreements with well owners. FID has more than a dozen private wells it’s monitoring for many years. Some of these wells are not the best for monitoring, for a variety for reasons, and that raises the need to reassess which wells and where. The goal is to have this completed before the well monitoring event planned for next month. But of course with FID surface deliveries ended more wells are being pumped. The needed data for the event may not be ready by then. But on the upside there are folks volunteering to be a part of the monitoring network. Chauhan said P&P now has a micro camera that will video a well as long as there is a port at least ¾” in diameter. Much cheaper than pulling the pump and dropping a big camera down the hole.

Chauhan said there is great effort to work collaboratively with Fresno County and other GSAs in the sub basin. Next Thursday at 3:00pm Fresno County will be hosting a meeting for drillers to get them up to speed on SGMA and the new application process. NKGSA currently has 24-hours to comment on well permits that might cause a contamination problem. The new permitting will allow for comments that better represent the GSP. She said the electromagnetic helicopter flights will start over the foothill area next month or October. She also said the data management system is being fine tuned and in the final phase of being completed.

Item Seven was next and it dealt with workgroups for the policy development as mentioned above and in addition further outreach and education needs will be addressed by another workgroup.

Redelfs invited further public and committee comments. There were none. However when Redelfs asked for a motion to adjourn there was silence. Chauhan asked if all the attendee connections had been severed. Finally Claes spoke up and the meeting ended and that was that. Have a great weekend everyone.

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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, Board Chair – Jerry Prieto, Advisory Committee Chair – Scott Redelfs

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