The Semitropic Water Storage District board of directors held its Wednesday, January 12, 2022 meeting in person and online with GoToMeetings which is obviously not Zoom. SWSD’s board meeting was scheduled to begin at 12:30pm just like always. The public is welcome to attend in person. I don’t know now, since both Marsha Payne and Wil Boschman are not at the meetings if there is any adult supervision making sure lunch is provided. I’ve had many good lunch in Wasco.
Chairman Dan Waterhouse called the meeting to order and we began by saluting the flag, like a government agency meeting should. There was no public comment or guests in the boardroom. The first action was passing a resolution allowing the meeting to be held remotely. General Manager Jason Gianquinto asked attorney Steve Torigiani to comment on this and Torigiani said the need for the resolution comes when a board has not met in 30-days or more. The board passed the resolution and approved the minutes.
The board approved the treasurer’s report and Controller Bobby Salinas gave the financial reports. He did a fine job and the board approved without comment. Next the board looked over the bills. I’m telling you if only other parts of the state and federal government paid attention to fiscal matters like a board room of farmers there would be no deficit. None of this trillion dollars here and there nonsense. There is a great quote and danged if I can remember who said or even how it goes. But the message in this quote ism folks whose livelihoods depend on results tend to be more conservative and those whose livelihoods don’t tend to be more liberal and I don’t mean classical liberal. Anyway, the board paid its bills.
Pump Back Gear
Engineer Isela Medina said the district needs some refurbishing and backup for the well equipment the pump back depends on. She’s looking to spend up to $600,000 over the course of the coming year. Medina said securing the procurement now will keep the expenditure out front of inflation. That sounded good to the board and they approved it.
Land IQ’s monthly study of evapotranspiration was due to be renewed. The $.65 per acre fee costs the district about $60,000 per year if I understood.
GEI Engineering has a task order for services at Poso Creek IRWM and I didn’t catch how much that will be but I think it was approved for about $15,000.
Redtrac has been providing services for well telemetry and batteries have been draining faster than planned. In order to prevent missing data it would cost $25,000 to replace the batteries each year not including labor. Redtrac figured out how to hook things up via solar power and the battery life will be seven years. Also, the current batteries cost $25 and the new solar powered batteries are $10 each. There are more than 400 units to retrofit. The board approved spending $87,000 now and saving more later.
Erik Gaiser of GEI gave the board an update on recharge throughout the district. The district has been divided into four areas and for some reason they are referred to as tiers. Tier One, located on the district’s eastside has the most favorable criteria and Tier Four on the district’s westside has the fewest features sought for recharge. The criteria includes soil types, proximity to district conveyance facilities and the aquifer conditions themselves.
Gaiser said the data had been gathered by soil borings but is now gathered by CPT. He said what that stood for but he was talking faster than I can type – Cone Penetration something that starts with the letter “T”? I did however catch that CPT data is much more uniform and accurate as well as being significantly cheaper than boring. Good for them. I think I heard Krazan Engineering is the CPT contractor.
Gaiser walked the board through a slide presentation showing what the data shows. I hope this power point presentation will be available to the public as it was informative but the amount of data and slides made it very difficult to follow.
So far, eight sites have been evaluated and out of 1,610 acres looked at, 990 acres have been deemed acceptable for recharge. Now to recharge them. The board had a few questions.
Gianquinto gave the board an update on what’s going on SGMA wise. The annual report is being prepared. Larry Rodriguez GEI said they’re keeping a close eye on DWR GSP reviews. He also said there should be a report by next month on tiered pumping costs. That was about it.
The first report was by WM Lyles and every month the gentleman says he will be brief. He actually was this month. The report lasted from 1:19 to 1:22pm. A record. Good for him.
Rodriguez gave a report on what GEI has been doing for Semitropic this past month. GEI is deeply involved in Semitropic operations and perform many duties important to the district.
Political consultant/lobbyist Dean Florez gave his report saying the legislative session began in September and lasts until August of the next year. He said both the state senate and assembly have super democrat majorities. There are only nine Republican state senators and the new Reb leadership is more moderate than his Republican colleagues, God help us. There also a big budget surplus and Governor Gav beat the recall. There were 2,421 bills introduced in Sacramento. Newsom vetoed 10 percent of the bills that reached his desk. If I understand this is half of Jerry Brown’s veto average.
State Senator Melissa Hurtado’s SB 559 has become a two year bill, so it’s not dead. There’s a spat of sea level rise analysis in the Delta bills. Most didn’t make it. It appears there are a lot of bills written by special interest who don’t care if they are imposing unintended consequences on all of California. I think about the bill outlawing tools with handles shorter than three feet. Or how about the law in California that mandates the Women’s Profession Golf Association must provide interpreters for international contestants for all tournaments held in the state? What is the government involving itself in so much foolishness? Florez said there were 86 water bills introduced with 42 signed. Of those Semitropic supported about half of them. Two veto requests were upheld and two signings rejected. Go figure.
Florez said there is a $262 billion surplus with Gov. Gav’s budget spending $15 billion on climate change. Newsom also put about $6 billion towards ag. Five billion dollars is going to drought response. The assembly water committee chair is now chair of the energy committee and that feller is named Garcia. His opposed energy bill was stopped in the energy committee. What’s going to happen now that he is chair? Florez said for some reason the elected folks in Sacoftomatoes are afraid of hydropower. He did say to expect a lot of bills on water measurement. It sounds like many of the elected don’t understand ET and satellite measuring.
Florez said to watch out for attempts to change the recall – requiring more signatures to get it placed on the ballot and proposals to allow the governor being recalled running on the recall. Well, when you have a super majority. . .
Gerry Draws Lines
New district lines have been made. Hurtado and state Senator Anna Caballero will have to run against each other. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales retired at the first of the year to go to work for big labor. Good riddance to the author of AB5. There is a new chair of the assembly water committee, didn’t catch her name. Florez suggested a Zoom meeting. Florez said there are also changes on the federal side and that is another scrambled egg. Florez said the issues he expects will be Sino Cooties, the drought and budget surplus. Here’s something, the capitol building has been closed for remodeling and the legislature has been moved to a high rise across the street. He also said there could be some modifications about holding remote meetings in a Brown Act review and update.
Florez put up a chart showing no matter how much snow and rain California receives the Delta outflow will never allow catchup to supply demands. The new water committee chair comes from a suburban district that is also harmed by unbalanced water policy. Newsom proposed $750 million for drought: recharge, efficiency and water conservation. This includes permanent fallowing. But there might be more grant funding that could go to farmers. Florez said with an election coming up it’s a good time to update the Williamson Act with ground going fallow due to SGMA. The demand for space to install solar will be growing in the Valley. Florez gave a pretty good report and the board thanked him.
Greg Allen, VP Red Trac thanked the board for approving the battery update earlier. Allen said the efforts to automate the well telemetry is going good, I almost wrote going well, but that’s too cheap a pun even for me. There are still 40 sites not yet hooked up but they belong to only six different landowners. There have been in person meetings at the district offices and that’ve yielded cooperation above and beyond what was expected.
Gianquinto said the balance owed the state by the feds at San Luis Reservoir has been paid and things are in balance again. He said pump back between Christmas and New Years was reduced but it’s back up now. The Kings River Phase 1A hearing is still waiting for a ruling. He said the State Board also Kern River is undergoing the same type of hearing. Gianquinto is no longer chair of the Kern River Watershed Coalition and that makes life a bit easier for him. The Kern Groundwater Authority GSA is still waiting for the DWR review on its Groundwater Sustainability Plan.
Medina reported the spring 2022 groundwater measurement survey is being prepped to start in support of the annual SGMA report due in April.
Salinas said SWSD applied for a grant from the California Special District Association to offset the district’s $34,000 virus expenses. In December they received notice they’ve received a $2.2 million grant. He checked into it and has consulted with Gianquinto and he expects an audit so the district will hang on to the money and not spend it in case they have to send it back. Gianquinto said he believes Salinas is wise in this and recommends his plan. Someone asked why not send it back? They don’t know who to send it to. The association doesn’t want it and the county doesn’t want it and so on.
The meeting then went into closed session for 13 items. Waterhouse and Gianquinto thanked everyone and offline we went.
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SEMITROPIC WATER STORAGE DISTRICT
1101 Central Avenue, Wasco, CA 93280-0877 • 661-758-5113 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Board: Dan Waterhouse – President, Rick Wegis – Vice President, Tom Toretta – Treasurer, Todd Tracy – Secretary, Philip W. Portwood, Jeff Fabbri, Tim Thomson
Staff: Jason Gianquinto-General Manager, Bobby Salinas–District Controller, Isela Medina–District Engineer, Executive Secretary-Marsha Payne, Consultant-Will Boschman, Superintendent-John Lynch & Attorney
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