The Semitropic Water Storage District board of directors held its Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at its Wasco headquarters. Chairman Rick Wegis called the meeting to order at 12:30 pm. Nice lunch; sandwiches and salad and chips. Just good wholesome fare. The meeting began with a flag salute and we all introduced ourselves. One of the guests was Gerry Meral, former DWR Director. During public comment Tim Gobler, Wonderful Orchards stated he would have to move on to another meeting but wanted everyone to know he and Wonderful are in support of what’s come to be known as the Meral Water Bond.
As a part of public comment Meral spoke to the room and gave an overview of what is in the bond. It’s got a lot of benefits, more than I can type fast enough to keep up with. The biggest portions I my opinion are funds to improve safe drinking water and wastewater for disadvantaged communities, so they don’t continue polluting themselves. There is money for storage and the big one for part of the world is funds to fix the Friant Kern Canal’s subsidence problem. Meral said Prop One had tremendous support from the Central Valley as well the state’s urban areas. There is good support from across the board; from enviro like Cal Waterfowl Association to trade groups such as pistachios and dairy. He said Governor Jerry Brown has yet to endorse but there’s a good chance he will or at least not oppose the bond. Brown for sure won’t endorse until the bond gathers enough signatures of registered voters to be placed on the ballot.
Kent Stephens, Chair of the Friant Water Authority spoke about how gathering enough signatures will cost about $2 million. That’s almost accomplished. Campaigning for the bond should cost twice that and Stephens urged the folks in the room to give as individuals. Jason Phillips, CEO FWA spoke and said if the tunnels are built and Temperance Flat is built and this bond passes only 600,000 acres will still need to be fallowed. Without help the subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal will add hundreds of thousands of acres more to the fallowed role because reduced capacity will prevent recharge supplies. Edwin Camp, Chairman Arvin Edison WSD said now is the time to step up. Attorney Ernest Conant said while a public agency like SWSD can’t advocate for a bond or candidate it can make landowners aware of the bond. But it will take a private letter to solicit funds. Conant reminded the board Semitropic although a state contractor it still receives water from Friant conveyance. Phillips said the money set aside for FKC is $750 million and that includes funds to start a Trans Valley” canal to link the FKC to the California Aqueduct. It could be a pipeline. In any event the FKC has lost more than half its capacity and without funding of the amount in the bond there won’t be enough local funds to restore the canal.
Getting back to the business of the meeting the minutes were approved and the board grazed through the bills for consideration of paying. The bills were paid and the financial report approved. GEI Engineering had three task orders approved. The next item was the Kern River Watershed Coalition Authority JPA. There are desires to change the governance structure. Conant said there could be a type of corporation such as a non-profit corp. In really didn’t understand the legalities discussed. An authority needed to be dissolved or the JPA did or something before this can be reformed. Since the word Coalition was used I correctly guessed this has to do with landowner representation in the Irritated Lands Program.
Consultant reports were next and a man from W.M. Lyles gave the board an update on the constructions of various projects. He rattled off a bunch of project numbers and mentioned some local landmarks so, you know, guess. I heard buzz words like manifold repairs and reverse pumps and timeline schedules. There are some railcar bridges that are sitting over unlined canals and the footings are eroding.
Larry Rodriguez, GEI gave his report saying there is some initial work on the GSP. Not only as an individual district but as part of the sub basin. There have been some protocols for site specific recharge evaluations developed. Semitropic will still have to come up with a GSP for the Kern Groundwater Authority. The plans have to be in a draft form by June of 2019 to be ready for the 2020 deadline. Rodriguez said the individual district GSP chapters need to be finished by 2018. He sees a good deal of conflict under the best circumstances.
Consultant Will Boschman reported on Groundwater Storage. He said the area at Montecito has had a disaster on its hands since the fires. Mud slides are now the problem. They want to bank as much as possible.
Former state senator Dean Florez said there have been a few resignations in Sacramento due to the sexual harassment issue. These were all democrats as might be expected since they hold most of the offices but they are the moderate dems. He expects about 15 members to be out by March. This caused a leadership change and Kevin DeLeon will not be the Senate Pro Tem after March. A lady from San Diego will take that position. There is are new faces on the water committee. He said there are clear favorites in most of the special elections to replace the nasty boys and that would be a chance to get their ears early. The DWR Director left his job to go back to his old job and a lady replaced him. I realize I’m not giving names because I can’t type that fast and it wouldn’t be fair to make up names – although it would be more fun. Florez said there isn’t anything in the legislation pipeline at the moment. Antonio Villariagosa and Gavin “Whether You Like it or Not” Newsome are close for governor’s race. Senator Diane Feinstein is doing well as her number one challenger has been a little tainted in the whole sex scandal.
Engineer Isela Medina gave the update for monitoring wells in the district by showing a great deal of hydrographs. General Manager Jason Gianquinto reported SWSD banked about 500,000 a/f during this past record year. There is only one client banking at this time. The initial snow survey was weak and it looks like DWR is sticking to 15 percent allocation for the time being. He said the fed side is within 45,000 a/f of spilling at San Luis Reservoir. Under the Irritated Lands Program there were some 90 folks found in noncompliance in Kern County. The East San Joaquin Plan will be heard later this month at Rancho Cordova.
The meeting then went into closed session.
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SEMITROPIC WATER STORAGE DISTRICT
1101 Central Avenue, Wasco, CA 93280-0877 • 661-758-5113 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Board: Rick Wegis – President, Philip W. Portwood – Vice President, Dan Waterhouse – Treasurer, Todd Tracy – Secretary, Jeff Fabbri, Tim Thomson, Tom Toretta
Staff: Jason Gianquinto-General Manager, Bobby Salinas–District Controller, Isela Medina–District Engineer, Executive Secretary-Marsha Payne, Consultant-Will Boschman, Superintendent-John Lynch & Attorney Ernest Conant
About: Semitropic Water Storage District is one of eight water storage districts in California and is the largest in Kern County. The District delivers water to nearly 300 customers for the irrigation of approximately 140,000 acres for agricultural uses. Semitropic also supplies energy to a variety of users and provides groundwater banking and storage services. Established in 1958, Semitropic Water Storage District covers an area of more than 220,000 acres. It began as an irrigation district for the purpose of securing State Water Project supplies to reduce groundwater overdraft. From www.semitropic.com