The Tri County Water Authority held its advisory committee meeting. The meeting began at 10:00am on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 remotely on Zoom from the TCWA headquarters in Corcoran. Manager Deana Jackson welcomed everyone and gave an update.
Grants in Your Pants
Sadly the Prop 68 grant score was just below the needed mark to receive funding. Engineering consultant Amer Hussain of Geosyntec spoke about this matter and said the projects submitted were very well received by DWR but this was a very competitive grant process. Hussain said there is an appeal process that might kick up the score and Four Creeks Engineering is looking into this. The projects, and there were five in the Valley that received funding, all had a higher disadvantaged* community score. Hussain said DWR felt the TCWA projects didn’t show a strong enough link to the DACs.
Geoff Vanden Heuvel was listing in and he said the problem wasn’t the project or the skill that went into the grant application but rather the state didn’t put up enough money. He said the state brought us here but isn’t backing its play with the resources. Vanden Heuvel said this has been the case since the beginning of SGMA. Cal Strategy’s David Armanasco agreed as did Director Steve Jackson. Jackson said there really isn’t a way to achieve all the state government wants without help. Armanasco said he and others will be speaking with Karla Nemeth, DWR chief later today to talk about this. There’s a gentleman named Steve Springhorn who is interim assistant DWR director who hasn’t been available for consultation on this matter. No one knows if he’s sick or on vacation but Springhorn hasn’t responded to any inquiries for more than a week. Cal Strategy, well I hope Springhorn is OK, but folks in Sacramento don’t usually avoid calls from Cal Strategy.
And speaking of calling folks in the state government and getting a realistic reply, I have a question for some brave soul up there in Sackoftomatoes – do grants actually pencil out? The government takes money away from people who create wealth, a little or a lot we all pay taxes. Once the government gets ahold of our money it spends some on needed services, it spends a bunch on itself, sets aside some to give back in the form of grants. In the meantime it mandates certain things must be done, like SGMA. So, the gov’t dangles that grant fund out in front of everyone’s nose and askes folks to compete for it. The gov’t didn’t ask how much in taxes we want to pay, didn’t ask if we want a mandate and didn’t ask if the grant money being offered is enough to meet the needs imposed on us by that same gov’t. For every jerky bureaucrat there are a dozen working their butts off for us. And for every jerky elected official who could do something about how the money is being spent there are a dozen even jerkier elected officials trying to figure out how to spend even more. While society crashes and folks flee the state Sacramento wrestles with reducing the penalty for pedophilia and posing as the wokest of the woke. Less than five miles of the unwanted High Speed Rail project could completely fund the Friant Kern Canal fix. Whether a government, an airplane or a bird, you cut one wing off and it won’t fly. In California it happens to be the right wing removed. Anyway, back to the grant. Who could answer the question about grants – in the long run do they pencil out?
The Annual SGMA Report
Next Hussain spoke about the annual SGMA reports. He said the data collected this year is much better than in the past. He said they always had decent data from Angiola but this collection is better. The data is being compiled by Four Creeks and Hussain is confident a good report will make the deadline. He shared a map of the groundwater contour for the Tulare Lake Subbasin. There is a great deal of Corcoran Clay throughout the area and this layer divides the aquifer horizontally. There is the above and below the clay distinction. If I understood correctly there wasn’t much change in groundwater depth from last year’s data set either above or below the layer. There is enough to show subsurface flows connected to pumping. Hussain said the plan is to start coordinating groundwater levels, flows and subsidence information to deal with the situations on a holistic level. Some of the Subbasin boundaries don’t follow the subterranean structure. The Tulare Lake Subbasin boarders Westlands, Kern County and the Tule Subbasins so there is a lot of interplay taking place that impacts all of the players in the area.
Hussain said the groundwater model being used in the subbasin has had some comments. I believe it is hydrogeologist Thomas Harder who is in charge of the model. Hussain said and D. Jackson agreed there is some wonky stuff in these comments. She and Director Jackson said the responsibility for subsidence could use some peer reviewing. D. Jackson said the data arrived from the model will be used for water budgets and other very important decisions. She said with the SGMA annual report coming up Harder like everyone else is focusing on that task. After the first of the month there will be the opportunity to work this out. Director Mark Grewal said in his experience the results the model is showing isn’t reflecting the pumping taking place on Boswell lands.
There wasn’t much to say about the Deer Creek Watershed Plan so D. Jackson talked about the Basinsafe allocation plan. This involves cleaning up the APN numbers and coordinating with Four Creeks and Basinsafe. She believes the evapotranspiration data will be considered and the extraction figures calculated and the final results will be ready in May. She asked everyone contact folks to get well locations and meter data turned in so there can be a comparison with Land IQ’s satellite data.
Projects were next so Hussain said TCWA has been very focused on the allocation issue and now that policy is in place. It’s time to start projects. He’s been receiving feedback from the GSA members. Hussain said the GSA favors projects that encourage landowners to participate. He believes and I agree the locals know the needs better than anyone. For example: he said recharge in the southeast area isn’t looking to be as productive as other areas and so what happens if water is banked elsewhere and pumped? Who gets credit and how much? What about temporary land fallowing? There are many other potential projects both inside and outside the GSA. Hussain said it is time to determine what role the GSA will play. If it is a more hands on role it will cost more. Grants are always on the table but he needs to hear more from the stakeholders. D. Jackson said while land retirement isn’t a popular notion the question needs to be answered as to how much the GSA should be involved.
Grewal suggested there are some big projects possible with Deer Creek and the Liberty area. He said these would far outweigh any 10-20 acre feet sinks. He wants a committee with Hussain, D. Jackson, geohydrologist Dr. Ken Schmidt and Armanasco on board to explore how to get the grants scored higher and get these projects started.
That was about all and the meeting ended.
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*Someone referred to them as disenchanted communities.
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TRI-COUNTY WATER AUTHORITY
944 Whitely Ave. Ste. E, Corcoran, CA 93212 Phone: 559/762-7240 DWR# 5-022.12
Tri-County Water Authority is a collaboration of Public Agencies, Water Suppliers, Communities, Cities, County, Environmental Groups, Government Representatives, and a variety of other interested parties. The goal is to identify and implement water management solutions on a regional scale that increase regional self-reliance, reduce conflict, and manage water to concurrently achieve social, environmental, and economic objectives.
Directors & Staff: Cory VanderHam – Chairman, Mark Grewal – Vice Chair, Steve Jackson, Wade Magden. Deanna Jackson – Executive Director, Amer Hussain – consulting engineer.