The San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority held its Thursday, July 12, 2018 board of directors meeting at its Los Banos headquarters. Frances Mizuno is an engineer who has been running the federal Jones Pumping Plant. She is now the interim Executive Officer of SLDMWA. Cannon Michael is the Chairman and he called the meeting at 9:30 am. But you’d better get here earlier if you want a seat. We began with saluting the flag and self-introductions. Come to find out Tom Boardman has a new granddaughter, congratulations to he and his family. The consent calendar, a fine invention, was next and the minutes and financial reports were approved.
The first action item was the board’s position on HR 3916. Mizuno said this act moves the National Marine Fisheries Service from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Interior. Tom Birmingham went to Washington to lobby for this and he naturally moved to approved and the board did so.
Directors Birmingham, Don Peracchi and Sarah Woolf left the room because the next item would be of financial benefit to Westlands Water District. The board considered executing an agreement for joint funding for engineering services between WWD and SLDM for a coordinated operations project along with the US Bureau of Reclamation. The price was $60,000 and it passed.
Attorney Becka Akroyd told the board 23 GSAs are preparing six GSPs for the Delta Mendota Sub Basin. This requires a coordination agreement requiring all the GSP to use the same data. The item was to have the SLDM act as the coordinator for cost sharing, if I understood. The authority will be reimbursed for its time and material. The board agreed. Director Bill Diedrich asked if the single point of contact for the Sub Basin could morph into a Groundwater Master position. Mizuno said it would take all the GSAs to agree and she doesn’t see that happening. Diedrich asked when SLDM can step back from SGMA. Mizuno said once the GSP is completed it’s up to the members but there is great deal of groundwater monitoring and other work that needs to be done. Director Steve Stadler asked due to the complexity of the GSPs if it wouldn’t be better to form a new authority to run the SGMA. Attorney Diane Rathmann said SGMA is new and scary with the threat of loosing power from one or the other source. She said SLDM isn’t a partner in the coordination agreement but rather providing staff and assistance. The board approved.
Mizuno took the next item. She said the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Water Authority JPA was formed to get Prop One money from the California Water Commission for Temperance Flat. The Infrastructure has about run its course for Temp Flat’s Prop One mission. Now investors including Friant Water Authority, Exchange Contractors, Fresno Irrigation District, Westlands WD and SLDM are looking at signing a memorandum of agreement. The MOA spells out what would be done next to move the Temp Flat project along. Mizuno said she was hesitant at first because of the uncertainty of funding might require a special activities agreement for SLDM members. But the MOA has been updated and the first effort is to form a JPA. Six SLDM members have signed up to have Stantec Engineering run some models to determine if they would benefit from Temp Flat. Boardman is overseeing this. The board approved signing the MOA with Del Puerto WD abstaining.
Reports were next and Michael said there has been new positions. Director Bill Pucheu has been the chair of the finance and administration committee for as long as I’ve been attending these meetings. It’s a lot of extra work and includes a seat on the ACWA JPIA. The board gave Pucheu a round of applause and thanks for his service. Director Rick Gilmore take his place.
Last month I didn’t write up a SLDM report as there wasn’t a meeting per se. There as a workshop for strategic planning and executive director recruiting lead by Martin Rosch. Mizuno said Rosch recommended another workshop and she expects a new executive director by November and a final strategic plan by the end of year.
Akroyd gave an update on the recent State Board’s Bay Delta Plan updates on Delta flows. The State Board has taken a great deal of criticism for demanding 40 percent of all San Joaquin River flows must go through the Delta unimpaired. It also will require tighter salinity levels in the Delta year round. Akroyd recommended submitting comments by the deadline at the end of July as the State Board is expected to adopt these requirements at its August meeting. Director Gary Kremen said this is just horrible. Diedrich said this is outrageously over the top. The amount of material and the short time to review the changes isn’t even realistic. Akroyd said the State Board has estimated a two million acre/feet annual water lose for south of the Delta. Birmingham said the biggest impact will be to harm south of Delta CVP contractors to make transfers with the SJR tributaries. This could cut things back by another 1.3 million a/f. He said a big question is what this will do to the California Water Fix’s ability to take water through the tunnels. There is a conundrum here. Governor Jerry Brown appoints the members of the State Board but those members appear to be severely hampering Brown’s Water Fix. Director Jim McLeod said presenting facts before the State Board is a smoke screen. It just gives the board cover to say they’ve heard and considered all the options. McLeod wants to prevent ocean fishing of salmon until the populations rise.
In other related news Akroyd revisiting the biological opinions by NMFS and US Fish & Wildlife for long-term CVP and State Water Projects including NEPA, National Environmental Protection Act compliance is heating up. SLDM has committed $100,000 to help the Bureau in this effort.
Boardman gave the water operations report saying he expected to be at full capacity at Jones by now but Delta outflows have been limited due to water temperature readings at Lake Shasta being hampered by high winds. At this point Birmingham advised having a workshop for all the SLDM members to meet and discuss the comments to send to the State Board about its through Delta flows plan.
Mizuno said the WIIN Act will require some contract conversions and she urged all the members to review the sample planning tool and she’d like to consolidate all the comments to send to the Bureau. This is about some deep in the weeds legal stuff I’ll leave up to someone else to explain. Mizuno also talked about federal and state matters saying the transfers of facilities that have been paid off is garnering more interest.
Under committee reports Chris White reported the O&M Technical Committee met and took a look at 2020 projects and a 10-year work plan. Input was given to staff and one of the major items was the rewinds of Jones’ motors and other facilities. Recommendations are pending.
Director Anthea Hansen attended the latest State & Federal Contractors Water Agency meeting. She said the ramp down of SFCWA has put a lot of the burden on the attorney. Mizuno has been keeping an eye on the finances of the ramp down as it applies to SLDM. Michael said the Family Farm Alliance is looking for a letter of support for a piece of legislation. The California Farm Water Coalition has been pushing back on some of the Natural Resource Defense Council’s negative press about districts’ noncompliance to reporting requirements. Hansen said the NRDC’s facts are incorrect and that is true. Many of the reports have been submitted but not tallied up on the DWR website where the NRDC is getting its info.
Diedrich said ACWA is looking for a new executive director. On September 12th the ACWA Ag Committee will be meeting in Northern California. He also urged as many as possible to attend the State Board hearings over Delta flows as a show of support. Next Michael said SLDM hasn’t withdrawn from the SJVWIA but it just won’t fund it anymore at least for the Temp Flat Prop One matter. However, Michael shares many folks’ opinion that the SJVWIA still has an important role to play. White said the SJVWIA needs to articulate its next mission and move forward. It appears it is in a holding pattern at the moment. There will be a meeting of the SJVWIA tomorrow morning in Fresno.
Mizuno reported the Unit Six pump at Jones is being rewound and things are going well. The pumping plant further down stream had some rusty bearings and a shaft problem. I keep wanting to call the downstream facility the Tres Amigos plant, but that’s a movie with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase. But I think the facility has a Spanish name.
Mizuno also spoke on science and introduced Griffin Hill, the new scientist working for SLDM. He looks young but he speaks well with knowledge and confidence. He produces a weekly report on physical and biological conditions as well as regulatory matters. I’ll find out if it’s available to the public. The SGMA report was next and a lot of that was already covered. However, there are still grant opportunities and the cost sharing and data sharing coordination agreement is coming along. The governance portion is about ready but the water budget isn’t there yet.
Rathmann reported on drainage activities saying there will be some closed session discussions regarding the State Board’s one size fits all Eastern San Joaquin Irrigated Lands requirements.
Mizuno gave her executive report and said she’s been very busy. If anyone believes she needs to do more please call her.
The meeting then went into closed session for 13 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. Chairman: Cannon Michael, Executive Director: Frances Mizuno (Interim), Attorney: Becka Akroyd.