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San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority August 5, 2021

Bermad irrigationThe San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority held its board of directors meeting on Thursday, August 5, 2021, by telephone and in person. I had a good deal of trouble calling in and ironically when I was able to join the meeting the board was halfway through Action Item Seven where the directors considered the Finance & Administration Committee’s recommendations regarding a plan for remote public participation for committee and board meetings. Chairman Cannon Michaels said there was a motion that the audio broadcast be enhanced but the visual isn’t so important. If I understand correctly staff will research a way to improve the audio system for SLDMWA meetings. Attorney Becca Ackroyd took roll and the motion passed.Conterra

The Meeting

After some delay due to the muting obstacles former Assistant General Manager Francis Mizuno (I don’t know what her title is now that she’s supposed to have retired but ended up being way to valuable to do so) spoke about the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project activity agreement. She asked the board to agree to amending the LVR Joint Powers Authority. Some changes include more members and really it sounded like the formation of a new JPA. Ackroyd gave further details of the proposed changes passing the resolution will trigger. That includes new arrangements for activity agreements. These agreements are like side projects to be paid for by those willing to enter into the agreements but the entire group won’t be liable. The resolution passed.

Gov’t Stuff

Director of Water Policy J. Scott Petersen gave the board an update on state and federal matters saying there is a status report being prepared on the long fin smelt lurking in the Delta. There will be riveting biological workshops in the near future.

On the federal side there will be a number of online public meetings held by the EPA on rewriting rules and regulations regarding water. It appears the current administration is hostile to science based operations.All Water Rights

There are all kinds of things going on in Washington DC regarding funding for infrastructure related matters such as canals. The Senate has advanced a $53 billion water and energy bill. There looks to be money for work on San Luis Reservoir’s B.F. Sisk Dam repairs and expansions. Petersen riffed off a long list of projects parred to funding levels; included was money for the Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir project and canal repairs.

Congressman Jared Huffman, former NRDC* attorney, has a bill dealing with offshore fishing and water operations inland. Petersen invited former congressman and current consultant Dennis Cardoza to speak. There are muting challenges on this system.

Cardoza finally was able to unmute and told the board the canal repair funding agreements between the White House and some of the Senators is causing him concern. He’s been raising alarms with some of the elected officials that are side-deals that could harm the Central Valley. He said he’s working on it.

Kristin Olsen, Cal Strategies reported state Senator Melissa Hurtado’s SB 559 has to be wrapped up and on the governor’s desk by September 10th. SB 559 is the bill with money for water infrastructure repairs. There’s a $100 million in this year’s budget set aside for canal repairs and another $100 million next year. DWR is trying to claim certain funding opportunities are reserved only for counties covered under the governor’s emergency. The State Board’s racial equity resolution has been pushed back until, she said the until the October meeting and she’s keeping an eye on it. Olsen also said the recall Governor Gavin Newsom is trending poorly for Newsom.

Petersen gave a report on what happened with a tour for Hurtado, Congressman Jim Costa and federal Senator Alex Padilla. He said they flew over the Valley looking at the impact of drought on the landscape. They took a trip up and down the Delta Mendota Canal and SLR and told the party how the plumbing worked. There were a couple of farms and water treatment facilities in the area they took a look at and a lunch in Dos Palos. Padilla then flew to Fresno and toured the Friant side of things. Petersen said the tour was deemed successful and there were some good relations established. Michael said he also thought the tour went well.

I think it was Rick Gilmore of Bryon Bethany ID who said he’s recently met with lawmakers and there is a growing awareness of the drastic nature of this year’s drought and are willing to become more engaged and realistic. He did say this but it doesn’t take much observation to see the elites in Sacramento don’t take things seriously or try to write laws with a minimum of unintended consequences.

Executive Director’s Report

Next, Ex O Federico Barajas gave his report saying COO Pablo Arroyave will update the board on the BF Sisk Dam project. He said the operational component from the US Bureau of Reclamation is due in a couple of weeks and he used the word optimism in the same sentence.

Barajas said the critical geotechnical work is coming in and that data is being shared with the Bureau’s Denver offices. There is a cooperative agreement between the Bureau and SLDM that will help secure funding. Both the Bureau and SLDM staff are working cooperatively on this matter.

Santa Clara Valley Water District Directors Gary Kremen and John Varela said there are no updates on the Pacheco Reservoir project. I don’t know why it took two of them to do so.

Del Puerto WD’s GM Anthea Hansen reported on the Del Puerto Dam project but I couldn’t hear what she said. Her’s was a disembodied voice in the distance.

Petersen said the cost to repair the Delta Mendota Canal is estimated at $600 million. He said the goal is to split the costs three ways: the state, the feds and the users.

Back to the SLR project. SLR is a joint federal and state reservoir and the cost of improvement will be divided by the benefits both entities derive from the project. Barajas said there will be a special meeting for the board later this month. The September meeting will be by telephone and in person.

COO Report

Arroyave asked Mizuno to give a transfer update. She said there was transfer pumping started in July and 6,200 a/f of Yuba transfer water was pumped. She hopes pumping rates can continue through August. The North of Delta transfer water is backing up in Lake Shasta. The hope is to release this water next month and have it arrive at the Jones Pumping Plant. She also said Stockton East WD is using supplies from Hogan Lake instead of New Melones Reservoir. There is a maximum release of 1,500 cfs at New Melones due to operational needs in the Delta. Oakdale ID and South San Joaquin ID are working on an agreement for new transfers. The environmental comments are due August 12th. She also said the Warren Act contracts are needed and the Bureau is working on this.

Arroyave said the Jones Plant and DMC is 70-years old now. Also one of SLDM’s long time workers will be going to work for Del Puerto WD. So there’s a job opening for someone. He said Mitch Partovi of the Water Agency has brought bottled water and cases are available in the small conference room. That’s a good PR move by the Water Agency.

Arroyave said many of the water agencies around the state that don’t have an ag component don’t understand social and environmental justice. There needs to be an outreach on that matter so when issues like canal repair come up there is at least an understand and not opposition.

Water Ops

            Tom Boardman gave his report saying Shasta storage is looking worse than expected. Record low storage levels are being set this year. He said transfer water is being backed up in Shasta and water is being released for through Delta flows. Folsom is very low also. This is the third lowest year on record. That’s a worrisome part of the mix. Some water quality standards in the Delta were relaxed through July. The outflow requirements for August is 3,000 cfs. You better double check as it was difficult to hear Boardman. Director Bill Diedrich said he hopes someone is keeping a strict accounting of how water is being colored and used. Color in the SLR is referring to whether the water belongs to the State Water Project or the Central Valley Project. There is a vehicle known as the Cooperative Operating Agreement. This agreement is between the state and the feds and divvy ups how much water each entity can pump from the available supplies in the Delta.

Committee, Outside Reports

The is room reserved on the agenda for the Water Resources, Finance & Admin and O&M committees, but there were no reports.

The Farm Water Coalition reported there are three major publishing efforts by SLDM. The Insider is a house organ by Barajas that is well read by industry averages. They have analytics. Readership of The Director Briefing targets about 30 folks and readership is a below average. Then there are press releases and statements that are being wheeled nationally and locally. Legislative outreach fact sheets have been prepared and tailored to the districts held by elected officials. The Western Water Infrastructure Coalition is getting statements distributed and run by various outlets.

Diedrich said this is an election year for ACWA and there may or may not be an in person meeting this fall.

The San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint report has made a recommendation to contract with the Providence Group for management services. A strategic plan and analysis is ongoing. Petersen said that effort involves SLDM staff.

Closed Session

The open portion of the meeting ended at 11:32am and the meeting went into closed session for various legal matters.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from DAW entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

*Lest we forget the Natural Resource Defense Council is a law firm that makes money from suing the government (the taxpayer pays for this) and soliciting donations as a non-profit while claiming to protect and defend the environment.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2021 by WaterWrights.net/DAW

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.

Board – Chairman: Cannon Michael,

Staff – Executive Director: Federico Barajas, COO: Pablo Arroyave, Attorney: Becca Ackroyd, J. Scott Pedersen: Director of Water Policy

Email: youtellus@sldmwa.org 209/826-9696
P.O. Box 2157 Los Banos, CA. 93635



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