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Tulare Irrigation District January 9, 2024

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By Don A. Wright

The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, January 9, 2024 at its rural Tulare headquarters and on Zoom. The Zoom access usually starts earlier than the meeting but it didn’t turn on until right at 9:00am. It can be interesting listening to the pre-meeting banter. Sort of a mini-coffee shop brief.Lidco Inc.

The Meeting

Chairman David Bixler called the meeting to order at 9:00am and General Manager Aaron Fukuda introduced Teressa (sorry didn’t catch her last name) who I’m guessing will be working with TID. She gave the board a brief bio which I couldn’t hear clearly but was able to tell she brings something to the table and the board was pleased.

Water Report

The minutes were approved and Marco Crenshaw gave the water report saying one storm heading for California slowed down and fizzled pretty much out. There is some precipitation expected in the coming week. Releases on the Friant Kern Canal are at a stop due to repairs. It is supposed to be back up and running by February 1st.Brandt Water Treatment

Fukuda explained there will be a milfoil (bad water-weed) treatment that has to be dealt with as well as turbidity as the canal is rewatered and back into action. The FKC carries Municipal and Industrial supplies as well as ag water supplies. For example the City of Orange Cove is dependent on Friant water. Its wells don’t produce.

Crenshaw said the Fairwell Gap snow sensor went out of order years ago, but it’s back up. Just in time for other snow sensors in the area to breakdown. I’m guessing DWR will fix this. Crenshaw put a graph on screen that looked like someone spilled colored spaghetti on the floor and he did say it doesn’t look good for the water season’s start.

Next a chart was put on screen showing the data of water imports to the district. It was broken down into actual acre feet and percentages. Crenshaw said last year was so full of water getting the data from SCADA and weather stations sorted, logged and analyzed is a bigger chore than usual.

Fukuda said the Northern California reservoirs of Shasta and Oroville are doing much better storage-wise than before. The predicted storms are traveling north which is still helpful for storage and will lessen a call on Friant supplies. While the actual conditions are tracking dry the prediction is still for a wet year. The snow water content for the Sierra Nevada is currently below average.


            Wayne Fox, Superintendent gave his report saying they have had district safety tailgate meetings, including fire safety. The vital and usual winter maintenance chores are ongoing. This includes repairs, mowing, silt removal, dredging and the rest of the list is as along as your forearm. Unfortunately it included removing the debris left from homeless encampments on district canal banks. Those nomads love water front living and this is a stark example of the state government’s impotence of dealing seriously with problems. I believe California is number one in homelessness. If for whatever reason I found myself permanently camping out, I’d want to be near water too.

The TID fleet is being serviced and maintained. Weed control is a carefully managed procedure. Farmers and water agencies don’t engage in chemical abuse, it’s expensive.


Controller Kathi Artis gave her financial report and per standard farmer M.O. things got quiet when the checkbook was opened and the bills were reviewed. Then the discussion started. While I find reporting on financial matters challenging the discussions about bills is often entertaining and informative. Turns out AT&T is no longer interested in laying new, physical telephone lines if it can be avoided. I haven’t had a land line in years and haven’t thought about it.

Assessments were also looked at and TID has received about 95-percent of the money owed. I don’t know many businesses that achieve that rate of return. Of course the stakes are much higher when a foundational input such as water is on the table. Also, a district, being a political subdivision of the State has the power to place liens and other incentives in the mix. If you don’t pay your TID bill and all efforts have been exhausted (they’ll work with you but if you don’t work with them. . .) not only will a lien be placed, you won’t receive deliveries.


A video captured on Ring of a guy on an ATV hauling (going fast) along a TID canal bank going through a housing development and wiping out was shown. The rider was trespassing and as an engineering project it was suggested a new fence be installed.

There is a new, large logistics center going in on Paige Avenue and Highway 99 that is interfering with TID conveyance facilities. Fukuda reported progress is being made. I also heard today there is work on a new intersection in Tulare that will help move traffic during the World Ag Expo. That can be a booger sometimes. TID is involved in many other projects including a pipeline being installed by Cal West Rain.

Fukuda laid out some goals for 2024 that included: establishing a standard engineering operating procedure that includes TID standards. There is urban expansion brushing up against TID and that needs to be addressed by updating the way things are done.


Fukuda said he attended the December 19, 2023 State Water Resources Control Board meeting regarding the probation hearing schedules for the subbasins determined to have inadequate Groundwater Sustainability Plans. The probation meeting for the Kaweah Subbasin of which TID is a member, is scheduled for November 2024 but there were no details given.

You’ll hear a lot of well deserved complaints about NGOs, non governmental organizations, but one NGO that rises above the woke/partisan rhetoric is Self Help Enterprises. SHE is helping folks with well problems and helping the Mid Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency in the process. Fukuda said it made him hopeful.

The MKGSA has an advisory committee meeting scheduled for this afternoon to review the Kaweah Subbasin Technical team’s analysis on groundwater levels. He said one big need is for the unincorporated rural community of Okieville getting a new, backup well. The existing well isn’t feeling well. There are surges and air where it shouldn’t be. Fukuda said with SHE’s help this community can get a Cadillac of a new well, or something to that effect.

Director Dave Martin rhetorically asked why minimum thresholds have replaced measurable objectives as the standard for SGMA and that’s a good question.


Fukuda said he’ll be going to the Mid Pacific Water Users Conference in Reno from January 24-26th. If you’ve ever been to Reno and wondered what the huge geodesic dome is – it’s the world’s biggest bowling alley. This is where many attendees of the Mid Pacific get together to see who’s got it on the lanes. It’s a fun part of meeting with the Bureau in snow country. Then Fukuda’s off to Washington DC with Director Rick Borges to join the Friant team in its visits around the capital. Ernest Conant is stepping down from the US Bureau of Reclamation as Regional Director. Longtime Bureau man Karl Stock will be his replacement.

Recharge Programs

The McKay Point and Seaborn projects are moving along and one interesting thing is – the Seaborn location was being mined by Santa Fe Aggregates. That company is moving and has graciously left a bunch of material the district can use and save money. There were also buildings left on the property, mobile offices and such. Director Martin helpfully suggested using them as bed and breakfasts. He also called consultant Austin Ewell a rock start for helping introduce projects and connections. Good for him.

GM Report

Fukuda laid out his schedule on meetings and such. It includes a panel presentation before the Planning & Conservation League on irrigation district conjunctive use. This is amazing. Of all the NGOs out there the PCL is one of the most harmful to agricultural water supplies before the state legislature. This gives me hope. Then Fukuda goes on the Friant DC trip, the World Ag Expo SGMA presentation, the California Irrigation Institute Conference to talk on recharge and finally moving the February board meeting to the 20th.

TID will be getting new desktop computers and a new server to replace a bunch of old stuff, which in computer years – which are more compressed than dog years – is a long time ago. A new website is planned and Fukuda asked the board if they wanted to go paperless or continue receiving printed packets. Most everyone agreed it is good to have paper to write notes on.

Action Items

There were three resolutions, a budget review and one other matter involving a letter of support. The first, Resolution No. 24-01 was to install officers, appointees and committee members. I believe it remained status quo. It passed.

Resolution No. 24-02 was the long whereas and therefore document needed to send the Bureau to make TID eligible for 215 Water. It passed.

Resolution No. 24-03 was the Department of Water Resources diversions recharge enhancement initiative. In 2023 TID received grants to pay to rent pumps to move water out of channels and onto land for recharge. DWR wants to expand the program. TID is proposing the purchase of permanent pumps, farm field recharge basins, flood in fields systems and rip/chip funding for removing trees. Fukuda said the goal is to get funded this spring and expand the program in the next two years.

Martin said the purchase verses the rental of pumps need to be examined, as the pumps are not going to be needed most of the time. Fukuda said the cost of renting pumps this past year could have paid for a lot of permanent equipment. He said he would like one, big skid mounted high cfs pump for sure. And a few smaller pumps. A consideration is during the very wet conditions pumps become a premium and there where demand verses availability issues last year. It passed.

The Budget Oh My

Fukuda presented the preliminary budget to the board. He said it was based on an average year of 150,000 a/f.  The winter rate of $52 a/f and the summer rate of $55 per a/f were presented. Fukuda broke down the revenue and expanse projections. He expected almost $12 million coming in and $14 million going out. This overspending is currently included in the mix and will most likely change by the year’s end. He also said he’d like to go out and find more supplemental water to bring into the district. The district is also going to have to replace some heavy equipment due to air quality regulatory demands from CARB, California Air Resources Board, also known as the Smog Na#is.* Fox said it would be a good idea to sell off some of the newer non-compliant, good condition, equipment out of state. The preliminary budget was approved and the district can show it to its lenders.

The last action item was a letter of support to help the Sustainable Conservation NGO receive a California Department of Food and Agriculture crop grant. It’s a study about flood irrigating pistachios in the winter and what happens to the nitrates and salts. TID has worked with Sustainable Conservation in the past and the pistachio industry is behind this. It appears the risk for pistachios is lower than almonds or walnuts when flood irrigating trees. Director Borges said he does this when applicable and affordable and likes the idea of gathering more data. The board approved TID sending a letter of support.

Closed Session

There were no board member reports and the meeting went into closed session at 11:22am for eight matters ranging from real estate to personnel to lawsuits. So that was that at Tulare ID. Go be good to yourselves and each other.

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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, Kathi ArtisDistrict Controller, Wayne FoxSuperintendent, Marco CrenshawDistrict 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 DWR#-5-022.11