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Southwest Kings GSA August 16, 2023

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By Don A. Wright   

The Southwest Kings GSA met on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 at the Angiola Water District in Corcoran. The meeting was held in the second floor boardroom, the same room Tri County Water Authority uses for its meeting. It could be called cozy but the air conditioning works well and most of the time it doesn’t get too crowded.

The Meeting

The meeting began at 2:30pm with Chair John Vidovich determining there was a quorum. Director Mike Nordstrom was calling in but didn’t notice his location under the Brown Act so he couldn’t vote but could participate and weigh in with his accrued wisdom. A new Director, Craig Anderson had been sworn in earlier and this was his first meeting. Good for him. He is also acting manager so that explained his knowledge of the situation.

The consent calendar was approved with the warrants being pulled. Anderson jumped right in with moves and seconds. The 2024 budget was the first item and it passed right away.Technoflo

The next items were Resolutions 2023-01 and 02 stating the Joint Powers Authority could fix and collect $2.50 per the 91,000 acres on the Kings County Tax roll. Geosyntec Engineer Amer Hussain said this amount would meet the budgetary requirements and there is of course the possibility of further grant funding. Both of the resolutions passed and most of those acres are Sandridge Farms, which is owned by Vidovich.

The next item was a review of a regular meeting time and location but no one wanted that so it was tabled permanently. Or was it? We’ll see.

GSP News

Hussain said the Groundwater Sustainability Plan was deemed inadequate by DWR and things have been turned over to the tender care of the State Water Resources Control Board. He strongly recommended landowners in the SWKGSA submit public comments about the probationary hearing the State Board is planning to hold on the matter. The meeting was scheduled for December but has been moved back by the State Board.

The board has to hold a meeting such as the postponed December meeting, before any State Board hearing can be completed and the fate of the GSP announced. Hussain said this is also a first for the State Board staff and they don’t have any previous SGMA examples to go by. It isn’t yet clear how the probationary meeting will be handled but; the probationary hearing will be held during a regular State Board meeting. The determination will be by resolution of the board and not decided by staff.

There is communication with State Board staff and board members themselves allowed concerning the GSP revisions. There won’t be any thumbs up or down on the revisions but there will be some guidance given to help get the GSPs in shape. That sounds exactly like what was happing with DWR when the GSPs were first developed. Nordstrom said it would be very good to get as many landowners to comment as possible. He feels State Board staff isn’t as receptive to GSA staff and consultants as they are to growers. Hussain said it is critical for the State Board Directors to hear from landowners and not just NGOs. The negative economic impact needs to be told loud and clear.

Vidovich said pumping limits seem to satisfy DWR. He asked Hussain what the GSA should do. Hussain said there should be pumping limits below the clay layer to address subsidence. He said without that, “This GSP is doomed to failure.”Lidco Inc.

Vidovich said Southwest Kings was not unanimous with the other GSA in the Tulare Lake Subbasin. He said he sees El Rico GSA as having a difficult time with the subsidence. Hussain said there is a need to present some figures for restricting pumping from the lower aquifer to the other GSAs in the subbasin. He said Tulare Lake isn’t the only subbasin dealing with this same issue. Neighboring subbasins have the same challenge.

Vidovich asked Hussain how to get the State Board staff to help them. Hussain said that is a difficult question because only SWKGSA and Tri County GSA are taking this matter on with action. He said he can’t see how anyone in the Tulare Lake Subbasin can say with a straight face we don’t have to address below the clay pumping.

Things got into the weeds with very local area wells and good injection well mitigation.  Ceil Howe spoke by phone saying the Blakely Canal is being used differently as the point of delivery is different. Vidovich said there needs to be some meetings and outreach. Nordstrom said Westlands Water District has been providing surface water as in-lieu to pumping in subsidence areas. There aren’t many active wells in the SWKGSA – six – far less than I expected. ASR, Aquifer Storage Recovery is being looked at.

Hussain said there is a study being conducted on how to set up a policy on groundwater recharge credits. He said it is starting later than he would have liked but at least it is underway. Vidovich said Westlands was way out front with recharge and SWKGSA should follow that lead.

Vidovich wanted to see a meeting on ASR for the first week of September on the 5th at 2:30pm. Hussain said this board needs to meet monthly or more between now and the end of the year. Ceil Howe said he’d like to fill the last seat on the SWKGSA board and that will be put in the works.

The meeting adjourned at 3:21pm and that was that.

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SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

MEMBERS: John Vidovich – Chair, Jim Wilson, Michael Nordstrom, Carlo Wilcox & Craig Anderson

Angiola Water District, 944 Whitley Avenue, 2nd Floor, Corcoran, California, 93212

DWR# Subbasin Tulare Lake 5-022.12