The Semitropic Water Storage District board of directors held its Wednesday, July 11, 2018 board meeting at its Wasco headquarters. Chairman Rick Wegis called the meeting to order a little after 12:30pm. They served deli sandwiches and cookies for lunch. Pretty good fare, or is it fair? The minutes were approved right after we saluted the flag and introduced ourselves. The board approved the financial statements and paid its bills. It also passed a resolution authorizing the execution of an Installment Purchase Contract with Municipal Financing Corporation for financing the System XYZ Project. Attorney Ernest Conant suggested anyone with further questions call the bond counsel. The board also authorized a conveyance agreement with West Stanislaus Irrigation District. General Manager Jason Gianquinto went over the contract and he said it was a good deal for Semitropic. The board agreed and it agreed to a planting agreement with Westlake Farms Inc. I didn’t get the details on that one.
The board had to officially weigh in on the Kern Groundwater Authority Special Activities Agreement #4 and it added its blessings. Next the California Special District Association needed a representative and someone named Myron I belief got the nod.
Gianquinto said a proposal for growers to be able to bank contract supplies. There are some specific alterations to the current policy. Currently if a grower doesn’t use all his contract supply it goes back to the district. But with SGMA the idea of growers being able to bank could be a good thing for everyone. Director Dan Waterhouse pointed out it would have to be a wet year and a grower would have to have recharge capacity on his property. So, it sounded like a growers’ bank is being established. Sit tight because the following may be shocking to some people; the board will appoint an ad hoc committee to look this over and then have a public hearing and such. This is actually a pretty good idea from what I heard.
Semitropic has a duck club. I didn’t know that and I’ve never been invited even though I do own a shotgun and eat meat. The lease is up and there’s a gentleman who would like to lease the property to continue the duck club. The tenant will keep the property up to speed and the payments are thus: $3,500 annually but the years that are wet cost extra. This is a three year deal. The board felt it is a good deal and approved the lease.
The next item was the Semitropic GSA. Gianquinto said there will be a property owner presentation on July at the Elks Club. Larry Rodriquez, GEI Engineers ran through it for the board. He said it looks like there will be three GSPs written for the entire Valley Floor portion of Kern County. There is a good deal of white area in Kern County. West Kern WD is looking to have a basin boundary modification for a good portion of its lands. Semitropic GSA is part of the Kern Groundwater Authority GSA. The KGA will take the member’s GSPs as chapters and craft an umbrella GSP for the KGA. Rodriguez continued saying the technical work will be determining how the GSP will be written. The government structure is pretty well finished. A strong outreach program is an important component in keeping DWR off one’s back. Minimum thresholds and management objectives have to be developed and implemented. He said it’s a journey to 2040. But the next six-months will be a time of heavy lifting. Folks want to get the GSPs ready by the end of the year so they have until 2020 to monkey with them. Gianquinto said every landowner in Semitropic has received a card in the mail to attend. It was asked if the presentation to the stakeholders should include what could happen if Semitropic GSA doesn’t meet its sustainability goals. The State Board could step in with Draconian measures. Just about everywhere I go that info is included. It’s like if the State Board poisoned three cookies out of each dozen in the breakroom folks should be told. Gianquinto said Semitropic is measuring groundwater levels beyond its boundaries. It abuts to the Tulare Lake Sub Basin on its north side.
Next Gianquinto presented the board with a mock up of what the GSA bill based on consumptive use might look like. The board members received a draft of their property. It was a large, spread sheet looking thing with a lot of figures and boxes and such. This will be adjusted as fields are fallowed. There could be a large discount in some instances. I heard there has been no ET developed for equipment yards.
The consultant reports were next and W.M. Lyles was first. There was a handout that covered the scope of activities. Rodriguez reported on other matters his firm has been working on.
Former GM and current consultant Will Boschman reported on the situation with Aqua Via. I do not know what this is about. There was a gentleman present representing Aqua Via. Boschman said DWR won’t increase the State Water Project allocation above 35 percent despite healthy reservoirs around the state. Semitropic has been working with a water group in Antelope Valley and would like to get out from under that. There is a move known as “Beyond the Brink” produced by Jim Thebaut of the Chronicles Group, Inc. Thebaut is requesting some funding to develop a different edit known as “Call To Action” which will allow further viewing due to its shorter length.
Former state senator Dean Florez reported the state legislature is on break. He said Tony Estremera, Chair of the Santa Clara Valley Water District was on tour in the area. He brought Nina Hawk, COO of SCVWD. Everyone said she’s sharp. Metropolitan Water District voted to endorse the Twin Tunnels. Last week was a disaster according to Florez because the State Board took five steps backward with through Delta flows. Gubernatorial candidate Gavin “Whether You Like it or Not” Newsome is coming to Kern County in August. He’ll be courted as will Republican John Cox. There’s a new water chair at the state senate but we don’t know who yet. Estremera seemed to learn a lot of what is happening here in our Valley. He’s also the Chair of the California Water Fix Construction Authority.
Gianquinto reported on the state water project negotiations. Transfers and exchanges are the issue between the Kern County Water Agency, its member agencies and DWR. He said DWR is doing weed clean up at Clifton Court Forebay. Channel lose on imported water on the state side is 35 percent crossing the Delta. That’s ouch. He reported the KGA coordination committee is working to get common ground and terms. SCVWD wants to bring in 3,000 a/f for recharge and Harris Ranch wants to bank some also. Montecito also wants to bring in water. High Speed Rail is impacting Semitropic with conflicts. I heard even though design has been slowed way down construction continues. HSR filed a notice of intent of an eminent domain suit against Semitropic even though the negotiations were being conducted in good faith. Gianquinto said the Tulare Lake Project is being reconstructed as a single district project.
Gianquinto asked the board to define the value of a pistachio tree as 73 trees need to be taken out for the System XYZ Project. The trees are six years old. The landowner valued the trees at $5,000 each. Director Todd Tracy said a producing tree earns about $60 per year at $2 per pound. It was pointed out UC Davis has a calculation of tree-worth that holds up in court. And the meeting 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