The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, November 7, 2023 at its Tulare area headquarters just west of town. It’s difficult to remember from month to month what’s happening in the micro, but in the macro we have water this year. There’s a movie named “Spinal Tap” and in my opinion it is one of the funniest movies ever made. It’s a faux documentary about an English rock band touring the United States and many things go wrong. I’ve watched it a half dozen times easily but I never noticed how much foul language there is in it until I sat down with my ex-wife and stepdaughter who was just a little girl at the time. I had to turn it off right away. So, if you do watch it be ware.
My point of bringing up Spinal Tap is a line uttered by one of the dumbest rock guitarists ever – Nigel Tufnell. He looked a lot like the late Jeff Beck but he wasn’t very bright. The band was playing a high production song titled “Stone Hinge” and there were dwarfs dressed like medieval peasants dancing around a miniature version of Stonehenge. Tufnell said, “In the mists of time were the Druids. Nobody knows who they were, or what they were doing.”
That’s how I feel month to month sometimes, I don’t recall who they were or what they were doing.
Chairman Dave Bixler called the meeting at 9:00am and General Manager Aaron Fukuda asked to pull an item and table it until next month. I find this hard to believe but I was the only person viewing online. There were some very minor audio problems where everyone sounded like Dr. Steven Hawkins but I checked out and reentered with no problem. Can’t do that with MS Teams or maybe you can but I can never get on Teams and have to attend in person.
Marco Crenshaw gave his Water Master report saying the Friant Kern Canal is off and de-watering. Millerton Lake and many other reservoirs around the state are at record levels for this time of year. Crenshaw said we had double the average precipitation in October due to Hurricane Hillary. The long term expectation is a wet year.
Director Dave Martin asked about Madera Irrigation District lowering its winter water price and that is due in part to the Madera Chowchilla Canal being in good shape and moving San Joaquin River water – and – the extra supplies from the Fresno River at Hensley Lake.
Wayne Fox gave his Superintendent report saying the crews are working on refurbishing the district’s canal system so it’s ready for next season. This season was one of the heaviest on record and took its toll on much of the state’s infrastructure.
Kathi Artis gave her Controllers report saying a lot about the district’s finances. As usually happens when a board of directors is made up of farmers the expense report was highly scrutinized. Someone said the district is doing a great job of removing graffiti. The financial report was approved along with paying the bills. There wasn’t an engineering report this month.
Fukuda is also the GM of the Mid Kaweah GSA and he said setting minimum thresholds is still a moving target. The Tulare Lake Subbasin was given a hearing date in April but a staff report of 180 pages released. There will be an in-person workshop Wednesday, November 8th at 6:00pm in Hanford. The State Water Resources Control Board staff will be there and explaining why they want to put the subbasin in probation. Public comment will be due no later than December 11, 2023. The Hanford meeting will be at the Civic Center, part of Hanford’s beautifully preserved downtown. Hope to see you there.
The staff recommends wells that pump more than 500 acre feet must have a meter installed. It doesn’t mention how you’d know when a well hits 500 acre feet without a meter. There are also lists of many other issues the State Board staff has interjected that is not a part of SGMA. The report also isn’t clear on a path out of probation. Originally the State Board planned on setting Tulare Lake Subbasin on probation last month, now it’s pushing the issue out to April and instead came up with this lengthy report.
Martin asked shouldn’t it be public information on which staff members are the ones arriving at these determinations? Fukuda said the State Board has a SGMA division that is very understaffed but growing. He said it’s only been the last two meetings with the staff where there is a two way conversation. Previously staff was dictating decrees and they are now starting to ask more questions and listen. They may have taken too big a bite if they bypass the GSAs and go directly to the farmers. The GSAs are the logical conduit. Think of federal revenuers back in the hollers, there’s no relationship established.
Fukuda said the Mid Kaweah GSA is working on how to finance the well mitigation plan. Income won’t be the first or only qualifier. He said MKGSA has had great talks with Self Help Enterprises. He said they are the only NGO in the area with enough trained staff to put together a functional program. Visalia’s Community Water Center doesn’t have the trained staff to cover this matter, if I understood, and I think I did.
TID is part of the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project and receives water from the Friant Kern Canal. Fukuda said there was disappointing news, the subsidence along the FKC is more wide spread than originally estimated. However, construction is on schedule and on budget. Fukuda said in his career in engineering he’s never seen a project of this scope move this fast. FWA’s CEO Jason Phillips and the US Bureau of Reclamation have kicked it in high gear. There will be a Friant Water Authority board retreat next week.
Fukuda said there was a fracture of the upstream and downstream contractors on how much cost share should be. But some directors such as TID’s Rick Borges held in there and kept it from going off the rails. Good for him.
Fukuda said TID is still encouraging recharge in the district. He said the Friant retreat is very much work. Everyone is tired but the following week ACWA will meet. The Almond Board Conference in early December has asked Fukuda to speak on recharge incentives.
The Sustainable Conservation San Joaquin Valley Regional Committee has asked Fukuda to serve on its board. This board is mostly boots on the ground growers and Fukuda said he’d like to serve. The board was good with this.
TID has been sponsoring Future Farmers of America water competition for $300 and the board agreed this is good. TID helped found this competition. Fukuda spends hours with FFA groups answering water questions.
The board regrettably had to face the retirement of Beth Holmes and passed Resolution No. 2023-14 honoring Holmes for more than 30-years of helping growers. She has been a friend and extremely competent employee. There will be a party for her. She’s cutting the cords on December 29th of this year. Good for her. The board approved the resolution.
Next Fukuda said there is an old pipeline running across the Visser property that needs work. Due to the need to get the project finished and the fact private funds are included TID staff recommended awarding a construction contract to Cal West Rain for $91,000. There will also be plans to include a turnout for recharge. The board agreed to award the contract to Cal West Rain.
The district is also looking for new internet service and an upgrade to the office phone service. Fukuda said the provider has dropped the price. Staff is looking at Unwired Broadband as more affordable and the internet is already set up in the office. The Vast Networks company has a line running under the road near the headquarters. This will give TID 200 mbs and it only has 20 now.
Fukuda reported to the board about the need to get a feasibility study for the Seaborn Recharge facility. If TID can get a feasibility study to the US Bureau of Reclamation there is a chance of receiving a $10 million grant. Without it no grant. Provost & Pritchard was tasked with starting this study for $100,000.
Director Borges said he’s going on vacation and will miss December’s meeting. This moved the meeting into closed session at 10:45am. One of the fastest TID meetings on record. Go be good to each other and yourselves.
DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete. Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2023 by WaterWrights.net/DAW
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, 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 DWR#-5-022.11