The San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority held its Thursday December 7, 2017 board of directors meeting at its Los Banos headquarters. There were no committee meetings this morning, so the board room was quiet for a while. As some of the earlier folks showed up the topic was fire. We’ve got to keep those folks in the South in our prayers. I don’t know where the Chairman Cannon Michael was but Vice Chair Rick Gilmore, Byron Bethany Irrigation District got things going at 9:30 am. Anthea Hansen, Del Puerto Water District lead us all in a pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The minutes were approved and Jim McLeod, Banta Carbona ID spoke about dredging in the Delta during public comment. McLeod said the enviros are preventing dredging and the results are going to create a water conveyance disaster. Attorney Jon Rubin asked, considering the date, we honor our troops from Pearl Harbor.
The consent calendar was approved and in a throw back to simpler times there were actually no action items. November and December used to be a sleepy time for water districts but the pace has consistently picked up over the past two decades.
Executive Officer Jason Peltier reported there wasn’t much to report on the California Water Fix. Rubin had assistant counsel Becca Akroyd give an update on the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan. She said performance measures have been approved in draft form anyway, the CEQA process has to be completed. Some of the changes have been to add more awareness to efforts to ween water users from Delta sources. Bill Diedrich, San Luis WD commented the Delta Stewardship Council is pushing for redundancy in regulations along with the State Board. Akroyd pointed out the State Board has more enforcement powers.
Peltier told the board he has better hopes regarding the Re-consultation on Biological Opinions that will impact the long-term operations of both the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. Rubin said this is a lengthy process and the US Bureau of Reclamation is allowing just about anyone raise any concerns whether or not it is covered under the legal environmental scope. Tom Birmingham, General Manager Westlands WD said he hopes these concerns are being raised as contractors need to have more input.
Assistant SLDMWA Manager Francis Mizuno reported on the San Luis Transmission Project. The CVP uses a lot of power to move water around the state but it also has the potential to create a lot of hydropower. Getting more transmission lines takes more than planting a few power poles here and there. Right of way and how many watts are being moved verses capacity and the tie-in with the grid. It gets complicated. Gilmore asked Diedrich to lobby ACWA to support the project.
Santa Clara Valley WD Director Gary Kremen presented the board with some information regarding the Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project. It’s a small 5,000 a/f reservoir that SCVWD and other partners would like to expand to about 135,000 a/f reservoir. It’s located at almost the top of Pacheco Pass near Highway 152. The estimated cost is currently almost $1 billion. There are many benefits from eco to transfers to increased South of Delta storage. This project is one of the 11 coming before the California Water Commission hearing for Prop One funds next week. SCVWD and San Benito County WD are partnering on this project. Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion is another project coming before the CWC as is the Temperance Flat Reservoir. Peltier said there will be a workshop today following closed session to take a look at what challenges, dangers and opportunities further storage on the San Joaquin River upstream of Millerton Lake presents to SLDM.
Budget development is always an important component of multi-million-dollar public agencies such as SLDM. Staff presented the board with a timeline to get things together. SLDM operates on a March to February fiscal year. The amount of board meetings individual directors have to attend really narrowed down the available options. There will be a get together in the near future.
Tom Boardman gave his Operations Update saying December is the last, good opportunity to fill San Luis Reservoir by keeping the federal Jones Pumping Plant pumping. Looking out on the weather outlook isn’t looking up. There forecasts are bone dry for the near future and that could slow down pumping. If there is a big storm dumping much water into the Delta turbid conditions could trip the fish folks into a frenzy and also reduce pumping. Boardman said he’s been using 2011 as a model for this year. He said if conditions continue as is allocations could be lower than hoped. However, the state’s Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant is churning away, if I understood correctly. The Bureau is holding a 150,000 a/f cap of carryover water. This will be discussed with the Bureau’s regional honchos next week. SLR is an off-stream storage facility. Water pumped into the Delta Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct at Tracy flows south into the O’Neals Forebay at the base of San Luis Dam. The water is then pumped into the SLR for storage and then released back to flow further south.
Peltier reported on the State & Federal Contractors Water Agency saying science reviews by SFCWA is filling in some gaps. The study of ear bones of fish (otoliths) yields great information on the life of fish. California Fish & Wildlife has a big collection of otoliths it has yet to study and SFCWA is prodding them along. Diedrich reported the recent ACWA conference resulted in an Agricultural Committee at ACWA. I understand Diedrich did a lot of heavy lifting to bring this about so good for him. Peltier said the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority is asking for another $50,000 annual due and that will be considered in the upcoming budget.
Mizuno reported the self-funding projects are being accounted for and the figures complied. Some billing has taken place and an audit should be presented to the finance committee next month. Mizuno reported long time SLDMWA accountant Guy Wamocha passed away quietly this past month and will be buried tomorrow in Turlock. I’m saddened to hear this. Mizuno said Wamocha was one of the most dedicated employees the Authority has ever had and he will be sorely missed.
Attorney Diane Rathmann reported on the drainage activities saying many comments are being prepared to the State Board in regard to its Basin Plan Amendments. Mizuno said the Delta Mendota GSA is working on developing its GSP. She said the GSA is looking to get grant funding from Prop One for outreach and that effort will be subbed out after an RFP is released.
Peltier said he participated with the Grasslands WD celebration over the CVPIA, something he didn’t expect to see. But the Act has improved waterfowl habitat. He also reported the National Marine Fisheries Service will be hard pressed to justify a repeat of its temperature control operations at Shasta in view of new science on salmon eggs. I think he said next Friday at 11am a couple of vans full of Friant staff and directors will be touring the Jones Plant and related facilities. Peltier said this is a great opportunity to show them what they’re paying for and build better relations.
The meeting then went into closed session.
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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: Jason Peltier. Attorneys: Diane Rathmann and John Rubin.