By Don A. Wright
The North Kings GSA Advisory Committee met on Friday, January 13, 2023 in person at the Clovis Police Department Public Safety Room and on GoToMeeting. Friday the 13th and more rain on the way. I’m still in Louisiana visiting family and attending meetings online. It was so cold here over the Christmas weekend our pipes froze. There was one day, I think the day after Christmas with a high of 30 degrees. Two days ago it was 80 degrees. We’re less than 60-miles from the Gulf of Mexico and the temperature here has dropped to a high in the low 50s with a cold wind blowing. For the first time in my memory there is more rain in California than Louisiana.
Order was called at 1:30pm by Chairman Scott Redelfs. This is the first meeting of the committee since mid-October 2022. The talk before the meeting was about the storms, flooding and what can be done. There’s a condition I’ve never heard of before called sheet-water. This is when standing water as opposed to channel flows get deep enough to slosh into canals and basins. This isn’t considered good quality water. Not all the runoff is usable in every case. A district general manager near the Tulare/Kern County line said the White River should be renamed the Chocolate Milk River there is so much silt it’s brown and foamy. They can’t allow that on a ponding basin as the fine silt will create a nonpermeable barrier that won’t allow recharge.
NKGSA Executive Director Kassy Chauhan called roll and there was a quorum. Because not all the members were in the same room all votes were by roll call which made the meeting a little slower but also added some rhythm. Redelfs led the vote to allow an online meeting and the minutes were approved.
Lisa Cohen gave the financial report and things are looking good. The committee approved the report which included expenses, financial statement and investments in the Local Agency Investment Fund. The committee doesn’t approve the reports for content but rather its approval will send it on to the board for final approval.
Ron Samuelian of Provost & Pritchard gave an update on what is happening in the Kings Subbasin. He said the Groundwater Sustainability Plan determination from the Department of Water Resources isn’t expected until March or April. Also by April 1st the annual groundwater change map is due.
Samuelian reported they are planning for a new data gap study and working out cost sharing agreements. Allocations are still on the table. He said most subbasins have already worked out a pumping allocation. NKGSA is looking at how that’s working out and incorporating improvements while trying to avoid errors and reinventing the wheel.
Grants are a big deal of course. There is Round Two SGMA funding from DWR and two Disadvantaged Community projects submitted by Bakman Water Company and the City of Fresno. There is almost $12 million available for the implementation of NKGSA’s projects.
Redelfs asked Chauhan to present the meeting dates for 2023. This is the second Friday of the month at 1:30pm but for November and December to make way for the holidays. The board agreed. The next item was to recommend to the board to pass Resolution 23-02 to apply for the SGMA implementation grant. That was unanimously passed.
The Association of California Water Agencies has a Joint Powers Insurance Authority and it issued NKGSA a President’s Special Recognition Award. This helps keep premiums down. Adam Claes of Fresno Irrigation District asked if there is any indication ACWA JPIA wants out of insuring GSAs. Chauhan said while that has certainly been a fear amongst GSAs it looks like ACWA will continue to be the go-to insurer.
Chauhan spoke about Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order Nfamous-7-22 dealing with well permits. There were 486 well permits issued in NKGSA last year. Some of these wells are replacements for existing or repairs on existing wells. Not all the wells were new. You sometimes have to redrill an old well. About 75 percent of the wells were domestic private wells. There were three industrial wells and only one monitoring well permit issued. The majority of ag wells were replacement wells. Fresno County wide there were 1,113 well permits issued last year. Data on well permits are much more extensive than pre-SGMA.
Redelfs asked about why such a high number of domestic wells. Claes and Samuelian both said domestic wells are usually shallower and with the draft and increased urbanization this isn’t a surprise. At the October meeting Dr. David Cehrs presented a report on this matter. I was told yesterday that Dr. Cehrs passed away recently and condolences to his family.
Member Agency Reports
Redelfs said the City of Clovis’ council has voted Matt Basgall as the new representative on the North Kings GSA.
Claes, who is also an engineer at Fresno Irrigation District gave a water update. He said the US Bureau of Reclamation has issued a 35 percent allocation to Friant Division Central Valley Project contractors. There is 200,000 a/f of uncontrolled season available. Millerton is at 151 percent of average for this time of year. That prompted flood releases down the San Joaquin River starting last week.
FID General Manager Bill Stretch has been working to get the USBR to release San Joaquin River water in the Friant Kern Canal into the Kings River. Right now only 250 cfs from Friant is being released into the Kings River. The Kings River is stored at Pine Flat Dam and there is still plenty of room there. The FKC turnout at the Kings River could deliver 2,500 cfs and the idea is to keep the water in the Valley instead of flushing it out to sea. The flows through the Delta are at record highs but the old operational policy is based on an annual calendar as opposed to the real time management the Newsom administration sued to get shed of. The calendar says this time of year smelt might get entrained in the pumps so the Jones Pumping Plant is not running at capacity. Thank you, anti-agricultural environmentalists and bureaucratic regulators. Be sure to pitch a behitchy when folks have to pump more groundwater after being denied surface supplies.
Claes reported the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District has done a very good job of containing flood flows. It’s a standout situation for the Valley. FID gets a lot of this storm water and is sending it to its own recharge basins. There are three basic flood systems in Fresno. The urban flows that are on the north side known as the Herndon System. The Dry Creek and Fancher Creek Systems take the seasonal eastside creeks coming off the Sierra Nevada range. Much of the flood flows goes through these two systems to various FID canals and basins. It’s a good thing they are there because Pine Flat rose 17 feet in less than 24 hours on January 9th. Chauhan pointed out it took a major lift by Met Flood and FID to make this work without damage to property and people. And I’ve heard FID will soon be offering flood releases to growers willing to allow more water on their fields.
Ex Direct Report
Chauhan gave some highlights of 2022. New directors and new alternative directors come and go hither and fro. New policies applying to the groundwater mitigation situation and monitoring well data collection is up and running. There has been more outreach and stakeholder education success. Digital media is increasing. Project list proposals are compiled.
Chauhan said much of what was established in 2022 will be carried on in 2023. A well intake portal is being developed. Not sure what that is exactly but it sounds exciting for the well intake crowd. Boundary flows and engagement with neighbors will continue to be an outreach goal. NKGSA subsurface flows go west into the McMullen Area GSA which is a low spot and has no surface delivery contracts.
Chauhan said other things you’d expect like continuing to interact with elected officials and board members, pursue grant and other funding opportunities and increase and improve the monitoring network.
That was that for this meeting. Redelfs asked for a motion to adjourn and all in favor got up and left at about 2:41pm. The next meeting will be February 10th.
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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