The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at its headquarters west of Tulare. This meeting is special. The board needs to decide if it wants to start a run early because water there is Friant water available and every drop helps in the age of SGMA. But for me today’s big story is the change of command at TID. General Manager Paul Hendrix is retiring to head the Mid Kaweah GSA. TID Engineer Aaron Fukuda will be replacing Hendrix as the new GM. For many years when I first started writing these reports I wasn’t really what you’d call a welcomed presence at the board meetings. And why should I be? Very few members of the public show up and here I am sitting in the corner taking notes. But at one Friant meeting Hendrix was sitting near me and he turned and said hi. To the best of my recollections that was the first kind act I’d received. I’m going to miss seeing at the TID meetings. I want to wish both Hendrix and Fukuda the very best.
The meeting was called to order by Chairman David Bixler at 10:00 am, an hour later than usual. So, there were no breakfast burritos waiting for me and I had to go into town to get a really good chili verde con juevos y papas burrito at Ranch Grande on Cross Street in Tulare.
The minutes were approved, Water Master Marco Crenshaw said there is water available to TID behind Friant Dam. He said the start of the years so far indicates the drought is back. There is demand for irrigation at this time and as Crenshaw said if the district holds its carryover until summer there is the chance of losing the water by summer. Director Scott Rogers asked if the US Bureau of Reclamation has made any declaration of an allocation. Crenshaw said the Bureau is looking for Central Valley Project districts like TID to submit schedules with 50 percent and 75 percent allocation scenarios. Fukuda said the Bureau doesn’t appear to be worried about carryover in Millerton Lake being lost. Director Dave Martin said he’d rather have a summer run but he’d hate to lose the water and is inclined to get the water now. Bixler and Director Mike Thomas said they’re ready to get some water on some of the sandier ground he farms. There is the recent memory of zero Friant allocations. Of course that was the Bureau moving San Joaquin River water to the Exchange Contractors and not because there wasn’t any run off. Hendrix said 490,000 a/f of SJR flows have already been dedicated to environmental and riparian uses. A water runs from October to the following November, but the Friant allocation year is March to February. I didn’t realize this. The State Water Project has announced an increased allocation from 15 to 20 percent. I believe I’ve heard the west side CVP allocations may be 40 percent or more. Don’t quote me. The board directed staff to begin the run next month or tomorrow or whichever comes first. Actually the run will start on the 10th of February and most likely run for two weeks or so.
Crenshaw next asked about setting the rates. Someone said $7 per a/f, tongue in check. Someone else said they remember when water was $3.50 and a/f. I remember when gas cost that much. Per gallon, not acre foot. Fukuda reminded the board the shorter runs experience greater channel loss. Hendrix said last year’s rate was good and the money came in because of the wet weather. Some of that money was set aside to supplement the costs during the more expensive dry years. Last year’s summer rate was $55 per a/f and $35 per a/f for the winter rate. Fukuda broke out the calculator and said TID will lose $260,000 at $43 per a/f. Director Rick Borges said he may disagree with himself this summer but he’d like to set the price all year at $43 per a/f and the board did so.
Fukuda updated the board on the USBR Recirculation Water. TID has 1,118 a/f at about $150 a/f. There could be a sale to Wonderful Orchards for transfer to Rosedale Riot Bravo but there is a tangled paper trail on that route. The Department of Water Resources and the Kern County Water Agency want their cut and additional permitting. Another option was selling the water to Arvin Edison WSD at $100 a/f. By the way, this water is in SLR and in danger of spilling so there is a need for immediate action. Martin mentioned that TID had to pay for this water but it can’t get it and can’t sell it for a price to make money. It could cost TID $50,000 and it won’t cost a penny. Hendrix said to find an annual buyer and that would take care of things in the future. The board approved selling the water to Arvin Edison.
Next Fukuda said his work load is about to more than double and TID needs a new inhouse engineer. Hiring a headhunter is pricy but a complete package. Having on-line, want ads or trade publications. Thomas asked if the district really wants to hire someone who would read the Fresno Bee. The trade mags looked most promising.
There is an effort going to protect the Okieville* community from flooding and drought. Putting water in the aquifer that would otherwise flood would be nice. Tulare County and FEMA both have their nose and nuts in the middle of this. TID’s lawyers have looked over the current agreement and find it OK. It got a little complicated about the grant and permitting but if I understood correctly it could cost TID $20,000 in matching funds. One result is another TID basin for recharge. Hendrix said SGMA is hitting the farmers harder than the other stakeholders. The disadvantaged community interests are getting involved. Fukuda said Okieville now has a community group doing its part to secure grant money for wells and such. This project can help bring peace to the Mid Kaweah GSA. Martin said Hendrix needs to remind the MKGSA how much TID is doing for the area. Good point. The board agreed to involve itself in this project.
Controller Kathi Artis needed board approval to remove Hendrix from the bank signature accounts and replace him with Fukuda and do a couple of other things in that area of fiduciary responsibilities. The board approved.
Finally, Hendrix’s turn came. Last fall the TID and MKGSA boards agreed to this transition and all the paperwork is finished. There was an agreement pending that would have had the GSA to pay half of Hendrix’s salary. But as it worked out today is Hendrix last day as TID’s GM and tomorrow he reports to work as the GSA’s executive officer. Martin moved, “Adios amigo.” That died for lack of a second. The board did take action to recognize the transition. Borges said there needs to be a motion to hire Fukuda officially but will appoint him as interim GM in the meantime. The contract signing is just a formality at this point. So the board appointed Fukuda as interim GM starting in the morning.
Bixler said in all the years he’s known Hendrix he’s never known him to get angry at anyone and is well respected throughout the industry. They gave him an award statue that looked like a one-foot tall water drop. Someone said it should be more of a six inch tall statue to reflect the current water year. I know I will miss Paul as he will no longer be going to all the meetings we usually attend but I’ll still see him around and I take comfort in that. The meeting then went into closed session.
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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW. *A real place, not a made up name.
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 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.