The San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority held its Thursday, January 11, 2018 board of directors meeting at its Los Banos headquarters. As usual the room is full, the almonds and fruit delicious and because it’s been raining most folks are in a jovial mood. Chairman Cannon Michael called the meeting at 9:30 am and we saluted the flag then introduced ourselves. Michael acknowledged Richard Santos as the new Chair of Santa Clara Valley Water District and we observed a time of silence for the passing of Anthea Hansen’s father. Our prayers to her and her family.
On a less somber note the minutes were approved and the financial reports approved. This caused the sole action item to be added to the agenda. Attorney John Rubin said since the minutes were pulled from the consent calendar they had to be approved separately. It’s good to know one’s parliamentary procedure. I’ve come to appreciate this more and more as I go to more and more meetings.
Rubin gave an update on the California Water Fix saying the only information is the state will make an announcement in the next 30-days. He wasn’t sure what was going to be said but he expects the state to say what it wants to do in light of the US Bureau of Reclamation’s unwillingness to throw money at the tunnels. He also said the Water Quality Control plan has a two-phase plan and the State Board is issuing an updated EIR on the Bay Delta water quality plan. Rubin said comments on the biological opinion matter are welcomed. This is an opportunity to revisit the decisions that caused part of the mess in the Delta. Rubin also spoke about the Water Quality Act of 2018. I believe this is the Meral Bond and it actually has water in it. Michael said they have gathered 400,000 out of the 500,000 needed signatures to place this initiative on the ballot. One possible benefit will be to add safety to the San Luis Reservoir Dam.
Assistant CEO Francis Mizuno said there will be a workshop at the USBR’s Mid Pacific Conference in Reno later this month to learn move about the surface water storage projects hovering around the state. SCVWD’s Gary Kremen will be making a presentation on the Pacheco Reservoir. She said Westlands WD is joining the Temp Flat MOU and SLDM needs to write up a special activities agreement. WWD discussed this at its last board meeting. Mizuno spoke further on the proposed activity budget and the draft fiscal year 2019 budget. There are some budget items all the SLDM members pay into and there are some that only those districts participating in an activity pay into. She said it costs $100,000 to buy into the Temp Flat MOU and SLDM will be involved in the Los Vaqueros Dam project. There was other talk about investing in more science and studies in the Delta as well as proposed giving to other projects. Banta Carbona ID Director Jim McLeod was opposed. He said the water contractors have given enough. He said the growers don’t need to be nice guys. Santos suggested the enviro community be asked to contribute funds as well. Mizuno said she’s looking for a budget workshop on January 24th where everyone can weigh-in and finalizing the draft. That meeting will be held in the afternoon.
Without any form of divinization Tom Boardman gave his Operations & Forecasts report. He said Jones was pumping at capacity during part of December and that dropped down due to high tides. It dropped to four units and pumping has been restricted since the first of the year. This past storm got the Bureau to recommend relaxing the outflows through the old and middle SJR under the WINN Act. The fish agencies have yet to sound off so the pumps are stuck at four units. There was 30,000 cfs on the Sacramento River last night. On the state side Banks is pumping 2,700 cfs. Millerton has restoration flows and some of that water is going to SLR. This past December was dry; like the fifth driest ever. But the wettest years have dry Decembers. He and Mizuno spoke with the Bureau’s David Murillo about encroaching into state storage at SLR and keep some of the carryover longer. It’s not clear at this point how much the Bureau is willing to put in state storage. There is no break from the 150,000 a/f cap on carryover at SLR. If the pattern we’re in now holds through February the allocation should be at least 30-35 percent. But if it dries up that number could drop to 20 percent. There is another storm out there making its way to us.
Committee reports were next and Westlands WD GM Tom Birmingham said the Water Resources Committee looked at many of the things already discussed so far today. Bill Pucheu, Tranquillity ID said the finance committee met and invited Tona Mederios to report. She said the audit was a little tougher since Guy Wamocha passed away. But it is getting done.
Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition presented a flyer – full color, full bleed on the nexus of wildlife, water use and farming in SLDM. It’s an impressive piece of work that showcases ag’s stewardship of wildlife. I believe this is way overdue as chicks and fox puppies are far cuter than smelt. The Temp Flat JPA, not the MOU will meet tomorrow but I won’t be able to attend unless they reschedule it for the evening, hint, hint.
Mizuno said to expect the draft O&M budget at next month’s meeting. That was the biggest info of the report. She contacted Friant Water Authority’s COO Doug DeFlitch to discuss the finer points of SLDM budgeting as this is his first year going through this. That’s nice. DeFlitch is a good guy and Mizuno is a very knowledgeable and kind.
Attorney Diane Rathmann reported the State Board has recommended eliminating the distinction between regular and critical determination which will be a one-size fits all disaster. She reported the selenium reduction is working well.
The SLDMWA meeting then went into closed session for 17-items.
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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. Executive Director: Jason Peltier. Attorneys: Diane Rathmann and John Rubin.