The Tulare Irrigation District’s board of directors met on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at its headquarters west of the City of Tulare. They serve a good breakfast burrito at TID and I may have commented before about the bottle of Insane Death Hot Sauce sitting temptingly close. Last time I suffered because I rubbed my eye. This time I was more careful and only the front part of my face went numb. Also, Director Mike Thomas had to come straight from the field and left his muddy boots at the door. Director Dave Martin volunteered to buy him some special “go to meeting” slippers.
At a little after 9:00am Chairman David Bixler called the meeting to order and the minutes were approved. Water Master Marco Crenshaw gave the water report and Director Rick Borges commented now that the new water year is here it’s time to start complaining to Crenshaw about the lack of snow pack. TID still has a bit more than 11,000 a/f in CVP – Central Valley Project storage at Millerton Lake. There is also 1,600 a/f at Terminus Dam. At this time the district has the OK to carryover the water so there could be a pretty nice cushion at the beginning of next year. However, the Army Corps of Engineers want to lower Kaweah Lake to 11,000 a/f to work on the boat docks in November. The Kaweah Delta Water Storage District isn’t sure this is legal but we’ll find out. During the 2016 water year TID had 390,000 a/f diverted into the district. Of course it didn’t keep all of that but all the growers received enough water and there was plenty of recharge taking place.
Engineer Aaron Fukuda told the board he spoke at UC Davis about on farm recharge. There was a seminar on how to cut through the red tape on recharge. The State Board is concerned about water quality and you guessed it – the problem in their mind is nitrates. Nitrates has been the big scary in Sacramento. But as General Manager Paul Hendrix said diluting nitrates with recharge is one of the solutions to prevent worse concentration. Fukuda said it was actually well attended and the folks in the room were paying attention. He said FEMA was interested in preventative measures instead of reactive measures. Tulare ID has been and continues to be a leader in on-farm recharge. Good for them.
Superintendent Wayne Fox gave the O&M report. His handout had a photo of a tractor with a side mower chopping down weeds in an empty canal. The angle of the photo made it look like the mower was about to get to the rip rap. Martin said that must be rough on the blades. Fox said the operators have been able to avoid mowing cement chunks. Borges asked about downed trees. Evidently after a long drought such as the one we’ve just gone through when trees get an opportunity to finally get water they go crazy and send a lot of sap to the limbs. Sometimes this causes the branches to break. The Kaweah River Sub Basin had a good deal of riparian oak forests. There are still some preserves and a lot of majestic, mature oaks in the area. A few of those have lost branches and since these trees are old the size of the falling branches is large. Fox also reported on how there are many culverts installed with corrugated metal pipes in the 1950s. They have lived their reliable life span and need replacing. Fox said after a wet year Cal Trans grabs every mower in the state. One of TID’s workers hit a piece of carpet some litter bug tossed on a canal bank and the thread got wrapped up in the mower blades. That was the only problem with that rig and the operator was sharp enough to stop and unwind the mess before the bearings wore out. On the topic of trimming vegetation Thomas said a week before harvest he found a crew happily trimming away on his walnuts. They were near a powerline but evidently not close enough to pose a hazard. He ran them off and two or three days later another crew showed up and started trimming. I’m not sure how one would handle such a thing.
Controller Kathi Artis wasn’t available today so Hendrix took over saying the budget comparisons were within routine limits. There were good water sales as one might imagine. All of this is in greater detail on the publicly available treasurer’s report. Hendrix did say the extra money earned from water sales should go to future recharge expenses. The board approved the report and paid its bills. Although they weren’t happy about someone in a company truck taking off without replacing the gas hose at the pump. It cost $600 to replace the hose and test it. There’s like one guy in Bakersfield that can do this. He’s the only one in the Valley. Martin said get the guy that fixed the twine in the mower head to be in charge of the gas pumps.
The Wutchumna Ditch Company needs a new measurement structure. Hendrix explained some of the financing details and Fukuda explained a bit about the construction details. TID owns about a fourth of WDC so it makes sense for TID to lend its expertise.
The Friant Water Authority of which TID is a member, has joined the joint powers authority promoting Temperance Flat Dam. The San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority rallied support for a Temp Flat Dam Prop One grant. The grant application has been submitted and now that Friant is aboard things are turning to – as Felicia Marcus said at the San Luis Delta Mendota meeting – what to do once the dog has caught the car. One of the big, if not biggest, areas of interest is how to operate the new facilities. Friant has offered an MOU to layout the details of how Temp Flat will be operated – who has how much share at what costs? A seat on the steering committee is $100,000 but more than one entity can come together and buy a share of the committee seat. As soon as five Friant contractors sign up the MOU becomes effective. The term is two years, with a 30-day withdrawal notification. The total cost looks to be about $2 million.
Hendrix said the two million dollars is seed money to get things going. Once the money is together the consulting/engineering firm of Stantec will be engaged to help get things figured out. Hendrix said TID could get some of the GSAs or possibly KDWSD to join together. Borges said Terra Bella ID, Saucelito ID and Porterville ID will go together to buy a seat. These districts are all managed by Sean Geivet so that makes sense. Borges said if you don’t join up you won’t get any special modeling but you can join up later, but it will cost extra. Hendrix said a district like TID or Lower Tule River ID could use Temp Flat for seasonal space while Terra Bella ID would benefit from increased carryover. He said even the youngest in the room may not be seeing the completion of this. This could take 25-years due to regulations and law suits. The actual construction of the dam could take less than three years. Martin pointed out during World War II we could build a battleship in a month. The average length of a civilian Army Corps of Engineers project is 20-years. Twenty years to build something. The board voted to spend $100,000 for a seat. This will allow for partners in the future when the costs get bigger.
Borges began the directors’ reports by saying the City of Fresno’s Friant representative Georgeanne White has resigned to be replaced by Tim Orman from the mayor’s office. Her committee and officer positions have been filled by others. An early allocation for the westside of the Valley has already been announced by the US Bureau of Reclamation and that’s strange since they usually announce too late instead of too early. Friant wants its members to sign letters of support for AB 313, the bill to take the judge, jury and executioner duties from the State Board and spread them out. Borges said the Merrill Bond is well on its way to raising $2 million to gather signatures. He said the Bureau is looking for $20 million to work on subsidence work. Martin was next and said the Mid Kaweah GSA is coming close to finishing the MOU for the three GSAs within the Kaweah Sub Basin. He showed the board a list of acronyms used in the water business and I must wonder where that came from. Martin said he met with the new State Board member Joaquin Esquival and felt like he was heard. He said he didn’t leave the meeting angry. Bixler reported he attended an ACWA meeting recently to approve the revised 2018 budget. ACWA is looking to put on a new full-time legislative person and a half-time regulation person. The budget was approved with an additional 3 percent increase in the assessment. He said the Wutchumna assessment and the previously mentioned measuring station was about all that was discussed at that meeting.
The meeting then 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 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.