The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 remotely on Zoom. Before the meeting began TID General Manager Aaron Fukuda said the meeting will have to go to closed session at 10:00am because the attorney’s schedule is tight today. That was nice to be told upfront and he even apologized to the public. Refreshing but Fukuda is a gentleman and courteous to others. Folks were having a few problems with the tech but eventually everything settled into place. Chairman David Bixler called the meeting to order about 9:00am twice due to the echo. Under public comment Director Mike Thomas said on his way back from Los Angeles he stopped at Pyramid Lake and it was full to the brim. He asked how that works when the rest of the state is at five percent that might be rescinded. Fukuda will take a moment next meeting and do some comparison/contrast between Friant and the State Water Project.
The minutes were approved and Water Master Marco Crenshaw gave his report. He said it wasn’t going to be pretty. Supplies will be low. Lake Kaweah storage is 37,000 a/f out of a possible 195,000 a/f. Millerton Lake is at half of its storage for this time of year. The Kaweah watershed is projected to yield 26 percent of its normal runoff. The San Joaquin River is projected at 38 percent and dropping. Crenshaw said this year is tracking much like 2014. The problem was high pressure off the coast preventing storms from reaching landfall in California.
The Central Valley Project has a 20 percent allocation. Crenshaw said it might get up to the 30 percent range but he doesn’t see it going higher. The estimated surface supply for TID is only 14,000 a/f this season. In comparison there was 68,000 a/f in 2004. Director Dave Martin asked how much water the deal with Lindsay Strathmore ID will cost. The two districts have an exchange agreement. Fukuda said the Bureau’s chances of calling on Friant water to send to the Exchange Contractors is small but you got to take it on a month by month basis. He said there is also a focus on making all trades, sales, transfers or other moving of water stay in the Kaweah Subbasin. He said there is a growing desire by the locals to keep all the water possible at home. He also said TID might have to leverage some Class II CVP water to help keep the goal local. Fukuda also said the return of salmon to Friant has yielded two live fish and one dead carcass. Yet the fish flows continue without any recycling available at this time.
Wayne Fox gave his report saying the first quarter maintenance program dealt a lot with safety instructions for the crew. He listed several major maintenance and repair projects that have been completed. It included a lot of earth moving on recharge basins and canal banks. One of the changes taking place is changing the slope on the basins from a three to one ratio to a six to one ratio of run over rise. It makes for a stronger levee with easier maintenance and the birds like it so there’s an enviro benefit as well.
Controller Kathi Artis gave her report and everything was accounted for. The books balanced and it was evident what the expenses were and how much cash is still on hand. Fukuda reminded everyone there is a big bill coming from the Friant Kern Canal repair and that has to be paid upfront even if it is financed by a loan or bond. The board then reviewed the bills with all the grit and focus of farmers. The board then approved payment. You can’t pee like a puppy when it comes to farmers’ and paying bills. They’ll pay what they owe but they are careful about what they owe.
Fukuda said he and Artis have been working together on the new water/financial model provided by a vendor. This will allow the district to model what the costs for different water decisions will be. He said that should be up and running by next month.
Jeremy Barroll reported progress with developers impacting district property and operations. He’s meeting with CalTrans this week about a culvert that passes under State Route 99. There are four roundabouts planned for Paige Avenue at the 99 junction. Also, exciting is the TTEM, which I don’t know what that stands for but it is a magnetic imaging device that can be towed across a field and get a look at what’s underground. It’s long and needs a trailer, like 13 feet long. It serves a similar purpose as the helicopter with the towed array.
Barroll reported TID has five proposals from different consultants to set up a water market. The committee is looking at the proposals and is narrowing things down to a short list. Other good news includes a hefty grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation, $1.2 million for modernizing Area 18.
The meeting had to adjourn to closed session at 10:00am. Fukuda expected it to last until 10:45am and no insult intended but it is rare for such a thing to take a mere 45 minutes.
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TULARE IRRIGATION DISTRICT
6826 Ave 240, Tulare, CA 93274 Office: 559/686-3425
Board: David G. Bixler- President, Richard S. Borges, Jr.-Vice President, Scott Rogers, Dave Martin & Michael Thomas
Staff: Aaron Fukuda-General Manager, Jeremy Barroll-Engineer, Kathi Artis–District Controller, Wayne Fox–Superintendent, Marco Crenshaw–District Watermaster & Alex Peltzer-Attorney.
About: The Tulare Irrigation District was organized September 21, 1889. The original proposal for the formation of an irrigation district covering 219,000 acres, extending from the Sierra Nevada foothills to Tulare Lake, was eventually reduced to 32,500 acres. The District continued in this status until January of 1948 when the so-called Kaweah Lands” (approximately 11,000 acres) were annexed. In October of 1948, approximately 31,000 acres, compromising the area served by the Packwood Canal Company were annexed to the District. A U.S. Bureau of Reclamation contract was signed in 1950 providing an annual supply of 30,000 acre-feet of Class 1 water, and up to 141,000 acre-feet of Class 2 water from the Friant-Kern Canal. The District and the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District have coordinated efforts to enhance the recharge of groundwater within the Kaweah Basin. During high flow times KDWCD may use the recharge basins with the District for recharge purposes. Further, KDWCD has historically provided for a financial incentive program through which the District sustains the level of groundwater recharge from supply sources into the District. This historical program was recently reinstated by both districts in lieu of the District’s plans to concrete-line this canal to conserve the surface water. TID is a member of the Mid Kaweah GSA.