The Tulare Irrigation District’s board of directors met on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at its headquarters west of Tulare. There was a cryptic message on the dry erase board “Sod busters unite!” We’ll see what that means. TID’s board and staff are pretty friendly but as always –like any other board – when it’s wet outside they’re more happy and jovial. The extent of the public comment was me saying hello. The minutes were approved with a minor correction and there was one addition to the agenda dealing with water sales.
Marco Crenshaw, Water Master was conducting business so Superintendent Wayne Fox gave his report first and said he said the TID crew went through safety training that included awareness of Valley Fever. I had heard a rumor that sounded like an urban myth. Valley Fever came from spores that grew in Indian burial grounds. Director Dave Martin pointed out dead people don’t catch Valley or any other kind of fever. Fox continued with his report saying repairs to leaks at vents on the St. Johns River crossing needs to be continued. Actually it needs to be replaced and TID Engineer Aaron Fukuda said it needs to be replaced. The top blew off back in 1959 and were added as a fix, one might say haphazardly but it lasted 57 years. Vehicle maintenance is ongoing and so is yard maintenance. The fleet gets tested for smog per DMV regulations every year depending on an odd or even VIN number. It alternates each year. When you think about it VIN number is redundant. The recent rains have slowed down some construction but Fox said up until Christmas it was going like gang busters.
There is an interesting situation with State Water Resources Control Board’s drinking water division. There is tertiary water from the City of Visalia that ends up in the TID system. This water can’t be used for recharge according to the state folks. Even though when it’s used for irrigation is goes into the ground. This isn’t a Regional Board matter and it is hoped the state will revisit its position on this matter.
Crenshaw gave his report saying the Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to get the level of Lake Success down so it can do some more work on the tower that flooded last year. The recent storms haven’t allowed that to happen. In fact there was some concern Dry Creek was going to flood the other day but it crested below channel capacity and all is well. TID’s recharge basins are starting to fill. Some of them haven’t had water – ever. Someone suggested putting an extra pump in one of the rivers and disguising it as a homeless camp. Friant called and wanted to find out how much water TID can take. With the Kaweah River flowing TID can’t take much Friant at this time. Friant has had to send 6,000 cfs down the San Joaquin River. The Friant Kern Canal repairs were completed so it can send it downstream. General Manager Paul Hendrix said the US Bureau of Reclamation isn’t sure what to call this water at this time. He said he’d like TID to take as much federal water as possible to pay back the City of Visalia. Arvin Edison WSD will take a lot of $10 a/f restoration water. The Friant can dump into the Kern River and ultimately move water across the Valley to the State Aqueduct and send it further south. The water could be classified Class II but if there aren’t enough takers it could be reclassified as 215 Water, which is low cost flood water. This means there is more than 100,000 a/f available to TID at this time and the offer is open until February 15th, if I understood correctly. Not bad, especially considering the past few years. As of today’s date there is 120 percent of average rainfall with more on the way. There was much snow but also warm rain. The amount of melt isn’t certain but it appears in the Kaweah Basin anyway, this hasn’t been much of a problem. And even if it was a problem, as Director Rick Borges said it’s a good problem to have.
The added agenda item was explained by Hendrix. He said consideration to change the TID rates and deliveries should be looked at. With the Kaweah River and Friant supplies being great at this time a truncated on-farm recharge program could be viable. Martin said he could take water on his hay to kill gophers and sink some water for the mid-summer cutting. It was said Lower Tule River ID is giving free water at this time. Fukuda said allowing the grower flexibility to participate on a minimum delivery time for free water or purchasing a set amount of water for a very low price like $10 a/f. The problem is once the system is charged up it is difficult for the district to have farmers turn off deliveries as the water stacks up and has to go to Corcoran. Fukuda said 26 landowners signed up last year but it there wasn’t enough water to make the program fly. He listed some points of the agreement suggested by staff: TID access to property, negotiated end date, landowner liable for water that escapes their property and must maintain property to retain water. Matters such as these were discussed. The difference between recharge and irrigation water is critical to the usage of the water. Irrigation water will be charged and recharge will be free. The board was desirous to get the Friant water into the ground as part of the overall strategy. Crenshaw said the goal with the Kaweah water is to not be encroached and that water lost. Once that is under control the focus can shift to Friant. Fox pointed out TID can’t flood hardly any property without pumping over the canal banks because the turnouts don’t provide the capacity necessary. Martin reiterated he’ll flood irrigate his hay at $10 a/f or less. The best benefit to the district for recharge will be to move the water to the north and east sides of the district and President Dave Bixler said he thought reserving the right to prioritize locations is justified.
Hendrix said setting prices, whether zero or $10 per a/f needs to be decided. Bixler and Director Mike Thomas said keeping the Friant water in the Valley, specifically TID is a good idea. Crenshaw said what if all the district is full, what about water sales outside the district. Hendrix said as long as the water being sold won’t come from the storage he’s OK with it. A motion was made to set TID rates at $10 per a/f. Demand will be met before recharge – the on-farm irrigation or recharge as available on a case by case basis. The motion passed and staff will draft a letter for the landowners spelling out the specifics.
Kathi Artis gave the treasurer’s report and things are going well. TID was able to get the dinero from assessments, sales and grants. So its bank account is looking rather fat and sassy in regards to those items. All of the details of TID’s financial matters are a matter of public record and you might want to read it for yourself instead of relying on me to move the data along. Fukuda said he has set in motion getting reimbursement from the Kaweah IRWMP by answering a series of questions. He expects a response by the end of the first quarter. He said any other IRWMP members who don’t get their questionnaire turned in by deadline will have their projects removed from the IRWMP grant applications. As the accounts payable was being considered Director Mike Thomas said he rented portable outhouses this past year. They were both unisex since there was no men or women on the doors. He learned there is an $8,000 fine if the toilet paper rolls go empty. Since TID has porta-potties he didn’t want to see the district get fined. Thomas said he traveled up to San Francisco and will now sell organic blue berries. As it turns out there is no definition of boundaries to qualify as organic. You can plant a field next to Three Mile Island as long as you’re within boundaries. The board approved the accounts payable and the meeting went into closed session.
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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: Paul Hendrix-General Manager, Kathi Artis–District Controller, Wayne Fox–Superintendent, Marco Crenshaw–District Watermaster, Aaron Fukuda–District Engineer & 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 with 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.