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Triangle T Water District October 13, 2022

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By Don A. Wright

The Triangle T Water District held its board and GSA meeting on Thursday, October 13, 2022 on Zoom. The Groundwater Sustainability portion of the meeting was called to order at 10:00am. To this day I’m still not sure but I believe staff is organized as Co-General Managers Sarah Woolf and Chase Hurley. Hurley reported on the Chowchilla Subbasin saying there is a process being set up so if a domestic well goes dry a professional evaluation will be conducted and some funds made available to get the well back online. He said they’ve been working with Davis Engineering on developing this program.

Director Dirk Vlot asked what oversight will be in place to prevent less than honorable attempts to get money to pay for a well. Hurley said this is an important consideration and that part is still being developed and thought through. At this time the cap is a once in a lifetime $30,000 figure. Woolf said the nitrate efforts unexpectedly showed how leery of taking money private property owners are. Hurley said the GSA will control the checkbook. Woolf said the only other program like this currently in place is administered by Self Help Enterprises and she believed the cap there might be $70,000. Hurley said there is still a good deal of internal work going on to make sure the final version will be palatable to all concerned.Conterra

Next Hurley spoke about the GSP rewrite review being completed by DWR by the end of the year. There is a group within the Chowchilla Subbasin organizing to bring about funds for project implementation. This is a voluntary group that has so far received cooperation from 25,000 acres with another 15,000 acres to go. This group needs to pull together the rest of the acreage to be able to work with Madera County and ultimately form a water district and start its own GSA.

Back to the GSP there hasn’t been any word from DWR. Hurley said everyone is hanging out in midair at the moment. He expects DWR will begin soliciting fixes from the GSAs as the deadline loams closer. He said DWR doesn’t appear to want to involve the State Board if they can get compliance worked out at the local level. Woolf said she’s heard from the State Board that it is ready and willing to step in if a GSP can’t be deemed compliant.

The Meeting

Chairman Lucas Avila called the Water District board portion of the meeting at 10:28am and everyone was ok with meeting online and the minutes were approved. Hurley gave the accounts payable report. TTWD spent more than $13,000 on fees to California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the State Board for a water right application. This is an annual cost whether the district gets any water or not. There has also been a good chunk of change going to the Madera Local Agency Formation Committee to annex lands into the WD. There are legal and engineering fees that have caused the budget to run over but that was expected and there were reserves available to cover things dealing with those issues. Woolf also said there will be some grant money coming in shortly to help back fill some of the expenses.

Next a chart of APNs prepared by Woolf and I believe Kristi Robinson shows what is happing financially with the TTWD annexation fee collection. I think the fee is $64 per acre and much of that goes to a supplemental water supply. The collections are right on schedule. Hurley asked the board for direction on the Poso Siphon project. The project will cost $925,000 and somehow or other there could be an almost $100,000 refund available. This would be divided three ways, proportionally, between two Vlot farms and John Hancock Ag investments, the landowners who put up the original commitment to fund the district. This brought up two views – give the money back to the growers or hang on to it for supplemental water purchases. The board concluded it’s easier to roll it back into the budget now than give it away and have to reassess the funds later. At that point the financial report was approved.

The next item was an action item to reimburse the landowners for other annexation fees and the board approved.

Water Report

Hurley gave the water report saying there is nothing to report but he hopes there will be a large rain and snow this year. He said the minimum goal is to get four million acre feet inflow at Lake Shasta. That amount will provide the contract amount for the Exchange Contractors. TTWD has been purchasing supplemental water from Ex Con. A better water year will also trigger some flows down the San Joaquin River which will provide channel loss to the local aquifer and build up some recaptured flows into San Luis Reservoir that could also potentially be purchased.

Other Reports

Woolf said the siphon/pipeline easement has been completed and can be removed from the agenda. Quad Knoff will be reviewing the annexation process and she believes the LAFCo portion could be completed by the end of the year. She also reported the appropriative water right application was turned in earlier this year and she expects plenty of comments from the public and others until the State Board makes some determinations. There was a tour with the State Board and Aliso Water District of the Eastside Bypass. There was one State Board director on the tour. Nicole Morgan has a good handle on the need for recharge and had farmer Scott Menefee ride with her and inform her. Someone from the water rights and SGMA departments were also attending. She said there were some growers who stepped up and did a great job of explaining how the system works and the benefits it provides. Robinson said she had a good conversation about the economic impacts of SGMA with the  SGMA team member.

There will be a tour next month for the Central Valley Flood Board. There are flapper gates on the Bypass that could be refitted as two way gates. Landowners would benefit from recharge with these improved gates. All in all TTWD staff and board wants to continue tours. They see a great deal of benefit from doing so.

Hurley said there won’t be a call for funds before the end of the year. Later today he’ll be speaking with some of the Exchange Contractors about upcoming water sales negotiations. There is good feedback from growers and landowners wanting to annex into the district. Madera County is backing off on the allocation fees this year but is still using Irriwatch as a remote ET assessment. He said there were many people in Madera County who worked above and beyond to stay in compliance while not knowing the real costs.

With that the meeting adjourned at 11:05am until November 10th at 10:00am. Go be good to yourself and each other.

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Triangle T Water District

4400 Hays Drive, Chowchilla, CA 93610 There is no staff, email address or phone number listed on the website.

Staff: Sarah Woolf and Chase Hurley

Board – Lucas Avila – President, Dirk Vlot – Vice President, Emmanuel Benjamin, Michael York & Molly Thurman

The Triangle T Water District GSA is in the Chowchilla Sub Basin DWR # 5-022.05