The South Valley Water Association met at the Lower Tule River Irrigation District headquarters on Monday, August 20, 2018. Before the meeting it was mentioned that Stone Corral Irrigation District Director George Sims is missing somewhere in Visalia. He left his home in his car and never showed up. So, prayers needed. The SVWA meeting was called to order by Chairman, the real Jim Costa at 9:00am. Executive Officer Dan Vink gave the water supply report after the minutes were approved.
Vink said a program that would transfer some Tuolumne River water to the south Valley has hit a political snag this year and some lessons will have to be learned for next year. Tulare County grower Tom Barcellos asked about algae in San Luis Reservoir and Vink said the more water mixed in usually helps retard algae. The talk drifted to the nutria threat to the Delta and Vink said the natural predator to nutria are alligators and garfish. I added, helpfully so I thought, that Cajuns are also predators. Attorney Alex Peltzer wondered out loud about the influx of Cajuns on the Delta ecosystem but they’re harmless, good natured folk. Just think Okies who speak French.
Under financial reports Eric Limas pulled out no surprises. SVWA follows its budget on a slow and steady pace. Director Doug Phillips, Ivanhoe ID self-published a book about wildlife in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s a coffee book full of beautiful photography. He said he wants to show that the Delta isn’t the only wildlife area in the Valley. They took a thriving habitat and ruined it to the point it won’t every be restored yet they try to take water from other areas to fix it. It was nicely done, so nice in fact Vink hinted he would like to hire him for his daughter’s wedding.
Many of not most of the SVWA members are Friant Contractors and therefore dependent on the Friant Kern Canal. So naturally there is an interest in the subsidence problem. Vink said we’re all in it together and South Valley needs to work with Friant on this.
Temperance Flat was the next item and Limas explained the original San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority pushed for the Prop One application. As far as Temp Flat goes this group has done what it can. There is also a Temperance Flat MOU group of investors to model cost benefits. A third group, the Temperance Flat JPA which is so far Friant Water Authority, Westlands Water District, the Exchange Contractors and the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Users Authority will be looking at building the dam and reserving storage space. One concern is the third group isn’t fully representing all the Friant contractors since South Valley hasn’t been included. The board would like to have FWA Executive Director Jason Phillips talk with them about it all.
Water Quality on the Friant Kern is always a topic of concern. Back in May Delano Earlimart ID’s Dale Brogan has been working on this matter. It was ironic a typo on the agenda read Dale Brogan DIED. Happy to say he’s still kicking. Anyway, Brogan updated the board saying many projects have water coming back into the FKC, like banking. He represents many with the desire of having guidelines in place by the end of this year that ensure the water quality meets contractors’ needs. Brogan said there have been studies by Stantec and Provost & Pritchard engineering firms. There is a pump-back program proposed to move water north in the FKC. The water would come from the Delta, down the California Aqueduct, through the Cross Valley Canal in Kern County and into the Friant Kern Canal to be sent north. Brogan said Stantec has really moved this along but he’s not sure if the South Central California Area Office (the USBR office in Fresno) will buy in by the end of the year. As long as someone doesn’t throw sand in the gears it can be completed on time. Michael LeBarre, US Bureau of Reclamation was present and optimistic things are going well at the Bureau. Vink said the Bureau’s Michael Jackson has stated he’s on board.
Vink said he was in Washington DC this past June and followed up with some of the folks he’s met before. He’d also like to take a couple of directors back there in the fall. The Bureau’s David Murillo will have a retirement luncheon in Sacramento on September 25th. Vink also said the SVWA newsletter is doing well.
The Coordinated Operating Agreement between the Bureau and the Department of Water Resources is an exercise in bureaucratic foot dragging. The COA was the agreement between the state and feds on who gets to pump how much in the Delta. The state has better conveyance and the feds have better storage. Vink said he believes FWA will have a seat at the table for the COA talks, which will be formal talks pretty soon.
Next Vink spoke about State Board matters and for sure South Valley does not agree with the through Delta flows but there are two items South Valley believes the State Board got right. One; recirculation of restoration flows on the San Joaquin River and westside access to water stored in Millerton Lake. Once the SJR flows for salmon migration get to Patterson ID and Banta Carbona ID it can be pumped out of the river and sent to San Luis Reservoir for reuse. The State Board supported this through a law suite from the interests on the tributary rivers of the San Joaquin River. The courts upheld the State Board and the tributary interests have appealed. Peltzer said South Valley will intervene if the appeals court doesn’t hold up the State Board.
The other item is the State Board’s permit in 2013 allowed for diversion of SJR flows. Friant and South Valley believe this change was just for restoration flows and the USBR believes it can use that water for 215 flows and other things besides just meeting Exchange Contractor’s use. Friant had to intervene and the State Board agreed the Bureau had overstepped its claim to water rights. The Bureau appealed the State Board’s staff determination to the full State Board. Vink said South Valley isn’t technically involved in these two matters beyond letters of support for the State Board’s position. Peltzer said that could change but it won’t be comfortable. The meeting then went into closed session.
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South Valley Water Association – Dan Vink, General Manager. Alex Peltzer, Attorney. Eric Limas, Financial Guru. Member agencies: Lower Tule River ID, Pixley ID, Delano Earlimart ID, Exeter ID, Ivanhoe ID, Tea Pot Dome ID, Shafter Wasco ID, South San Joaquin Municipal UD and Stone Corral ID.