The San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority held its Thursday, September 13, 2018 board of directors meeting at its Los Banos headquarters in the old Miller & Lux building. Chairman Cannon Michael called the meeting to order at 9:30pm. We then did what every special district should do, we saluted the flag. Then we introduced ourselves to each other. That was fun. Michael began the meeting by acknowledging Sarah Woolf for her service as a SLDM board member. Woolf has resigned from the Westlands Water District board and therefore this board as well. Interim General Manager Frances Mizuno announced Joyce Machado will be taking over from Tona Medeiros.
Next Michael and the authority thanked the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Regional Director David Murillo for his heavy lifting. Murillo is retiring and SLDM presented him with the coveted and esteemed Golden Bucket award. There was an accompanying resolution citing Murillo’s accomplishments. I didn’t know he was a nuclear engineer for the US Navy before joining the Bureau. I don’t know Murillo well on a personal level but I can attest he is honestly respected by the water community of the Central Valley Project. I join many in wishing him well.
The minutes and the consent calendar were approved. On November 8th, there will be a board meeting followed by a strategic planning session. Mizuno said she’s a believer in this process.
Attorney Becca Akroyd reported on the California Water Fix saying there has been a flurry of lawsuits that are now being considered by the Delta Stewardship Council. There will also be a new forebay next to Clifton Court that will connect to the Delta Mendota Canal if the Fix is built. Akroyd continued – the State Board’s through Delta flows standard is slated to be adopted in November. There is such a wall of opposition to this many are now wondering if having an unelected board in charge of such a matter of life or death needs to be changed.
Mizuno said raising San Luis Dam 12 feet won’t add any storage as the California State’s dam overlords won’t allow it. However, if the dam can be raised an additional 10 feet over the original 12 it will add more than 100,000 a/f of storage. This will cost $600 million and it’s time to start seeking funding. Someone asked if SLDM finances by itself it gets to keep all the extra water as carryover. Director William Bordeaux suggested selling naming rights. That was pretty good. Tom Birmingham, GM Westlands WD said the reservoir is joint use between the feds and the state, but the United States owns the dam. Mizuno updated the board on the Temperance Flat situation. The MOA group is working create a new JPA. While this is happening it is also developing a gaming model to determine the value of the project. Tom Boardman said there was a meeting of the investors yesterday and things are moving along. Chris White, GM Central California ID and new Executive Director of the Exchange Contractors said the time is close to determining if this is economically feasible. Birmingham reminded folks Director Gary Kremen, Santa Clara Valley WD proposed an activities agreement should be put in place. He proposed getting ready for that. WWD is involved separately from its membership in the SLDMWA. Mizuno said it might be good to wait until the financial feasibility is determined from the modeling and everyone went along with that.
Boardman then gave his always excellent water forecast saying he believes SLR will fill in early 2019. He said due to Oroville Dam the state side may not be pumping as much in the fall. Also, it looks like there is an opportunity to fill up Shasta Lake and maybe getting some carryover.
Mizuno spoke about the WINN Act Section 4011, Contract Conversion. She said the Bureau will hold a technical workshop in Sacramento on September 26th to address the questions. To be accepted as a negotiator representing a district will require a resolution from the home board. Birmingham asked Mizuno to ask the Bureau to move the venue because the security procedure to enter the building can take an hour. Wow.
Lobbyist and former congressman Dennis Cardoza (Cardoza had a little “d” behind his name when he served in congress) spoke by phone from Washington DC saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel is keeping the senate in session as long as possible because there are more democrats up for reelection than republicans and he wants to deny them campaign time. On the opposite side the House is scrambling to get home as more republicans are needing to campaign. He said the fight against the water tax in California won a huge victory. The tax failed. He pointed to Rick Gilmore, GM Byron Bethany ID as a driving force in getting some changes in how the State Board acts as judge, jury and prosecutor. Cardoza said that was one of the biggest efforts in memory and congratulated Gilmore and the crew at BBID. He said the House and Senate are looking to streamline some of the regulatory mess caused by competing agencies, if I understood correctly. Jim McLeod, Director Banta Carbona ID told Cardoza it is time to review the history of the San Joaquin River. He said salinity levels have changed. Water storage from snow melt saved the lower SJR from salinity. He said how New Melones is operated is vital. Cardoza said receiving historic data to share with the elected officials is important. San Luis WD Director Bill Diedrich said to educate third graders and legislators and everyone in between needs to be a priority.
Akroyd said the Bureau has proposed revisions to the ESA on listing, habitat destinations and consultations. Comments are due. She said many of the provisions are quite helpful. For instance; better clarification on what is an environmental baseline. Diedrich said most western governors are looking to get more environmental power to the states away from the feds which is not good for California. Cardoza said even the bills he pushed to get roll backs on ESA would be too radical to now. McLeod said under the ESA our forests are burning, there’s mud in the rivers and behind the dams. It’s not working. Michael said there appears to be some movement in a positive direction for a change. Each agency can send comments to Akroyd.
Committee reports were next and there were no reports. As for activities outside of the authority Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition reported the Cultivate California website traffic from targeted urban areas has drawn 135,000 hits. The target is upper income, liberal coastal elites and its working well. If you go to a Whole Foods you’ll get a message linking ag production with the food being sold. He said the next message is how the State Board’s water grab and SGMA are going to slash 25 percent of the state’s multi-billion dollar ag economy. Diedrich said the ACWA ag committee will be meeting at the Kern County Water Agency in Bakersfield next Wednesday morning. There will be a San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure meeting tomorrow morning at 9:00am at Fresno ID.
Mizuno reported she’s waiting on a NPEDS permit to spray hyacinth in the DMC. She said there is subsidence on the DMC and there will be a presentation at the next meeting; including a cost estimate to fix this. She said all the Yuba water should be pumped by the end of this month and there are discussions with the Yuba County Water Agency to extend that contract. SGMA is being coordinated by SLDM and GSP chapters are being prepared. Water budgets will be compared in October and the outreach and coordination efforts have been augmented with a new hire and some help from Stantec Engineering.
Attorney Dianne Rathmann reported on drainage matters saying the Grasslands Bypass has received approval on its plan. Michael said as Chair he will become less tolerant of sidebar talks. They are becoming distracting. The meeting then went into closed session.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright
SAN LUIS & DELTA-MENDOTA WATER AUTHORITY was established in January of 1992 and consists of approximately 2,100,000 acres of 29 federal and exchange water service contractors within the western San Joaquin Valley, San Benito and Santa Clara counties. The governing body of the Authority consists of a 19-member Board of Directors classified into five divisions with directors selected from within each division. The main conveyance is the Delta-Mendota Canal that delivers approximately 3,000,000-acre feet of water within the Authority service area. Of this amount, 2,500,000-acre feet are delivered to highly productive agricultural lands, 150,000 to 200,000-acre feet for municipal and industrial uses, and between 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet are delivered to wildlife refuges for habitat enhancement and restoration. Chairman: Cannon Michael, Executive Director: Francis Mizuno (Interim), Attorney: Becca Ackroyd.
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P.O. Box 2157 Los Banos, CA. 93635