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Tulare Irrigation District September 13, 2022

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By Don A. Wright

The Tulare Irrigation District held its board of directors meeting on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at its Tulare offices for board and staff. The rest of us had to attend on Zoom. Have I mentioned how relatively hassle free Zoom is?

Back before the Sino Cooties got everyone ramped up TID would serve delicious breakfast burritos. I miss them. There was a linguica with eggs and cheese that really hit the spot. They have a condiment named Dave’s Death Sauce. It’s really hot. The only safe way to apply it is with gloves. Put on your goggles and gloves, dip a toothpick into the neck of the bottle until you’ve reached the level of sauce in the bottle. Hold the toothpick there for 30-seconds and remove. Now wave it over your burrito like a magic wand. Hot essence will descend upon your food and you’ll get the flavor without causing layers of skin to blister.

The Meeting

Chairman David Bixler called the meeting at 9:03am according to my chronometer. Under public comment, on a stack of Bibles they told me I was missing a good burrito. General Manager Aaron Fukuda praised staff for the hard work they did in putting together grower meetings. The virtual meeting resolution was passed.

Water Report

Water Master Marco Crenshaw gave his report saying Lake Kaweah is below 14,000 a/f and Millerton Lake storage is increasing due to emergency power needs. There was a great deal of debris from fires up in the Sierra Nevada that plugged up the So Cal Edison hydropower system. They have cleared it and are now trying to make up for lost time. Millerton is at a little more than half full with more than 260,000 a/f in storage. If I read the charts correctly TID is in line for 2,600 a/f of unreleased restoration flows and still  has 5,000 a/f at Lake Kaweah.

Fukuda added the situation at Shasta and other reservoirs are still low but higher than last year. The pumps are running at the Jones Plant with three out of five units sending water down the Delta Mendota Canal. Fukuda said there was talk at yesterday’s Friant committee about pig spleens and the  Farmer’s Almanac as reliable weather prediction tools. He said he trusts Crenshaw more than any of those and asked what are the chances of a wet year? Crenshaw said, “50/50.” Director Dave Martin said he hopes we don’t have an early rain this year. He said, and I agree, almost every time there is a wet fall there is a dry winter. Just look at 2022.


Superintendent Wayne Fox gave his report with photos of canal bank repairs. He said there are a lot of squirrels this year and that means burrows in the banks. Staff is taking measures to reduce the furry population. TID has some of its equipment working the Turnip Seed recharge basin at Delano Earlimart ID.

Fox said there may be a need to hire some new help as there are retirements coming up soon. There are also some folks with leave time and I think he said there are other employees who may be quitting. There is mechanical work on the district’s equipment taking place and that was about all Fox had.


Controller Kathi Artis gave her report and it looks like TID is doing a find job of shepherding its funds in a manner that allows it to pay its bills and provide the constituents with the services necessary to deliver water just as soon as it rains. There was a lot more to the report than this but farmers are like de-facto forensic accountants. You’re not going to pull a fast one over on them very often. The board approved the report.


The next report on the agenda was engineering. Jeremy Barroll gave the board an update on some projects that will impact TID’s lines once construction begins. There are building around the City of Tulare and urban development is running into farmland. All of this requires coordination between the developer and the district least pipes and canals are damaged blocking flows throughout the district.

Management Reports

Fukuda said there have been lessons learned for the 2025 GSP revisions during the rewrite of the GSP. There was a data management system written by GEI Engineering that was so proprietary it proved difficult. The Kaweah Subbasin is working on another system. Provost & Pritchard is working on updates to the water budget and the water accounting plan. Montgomery  & Associates is updating the modeling with some new software developed at Stanford University.

The Mid Kaweah GSA has a pumping cap of 2.5 a/f per acre and that is being evaluated. All the GSAs in the Kaweah are reviewing their allocations. East Kaweah GSA is looking at 2.5 a/f cap and the Greater Kaweah GSA is looking at 2.6-2.67 a/f per acre. The GSAs have met with Tulare County to look at the coordination agreement and help enforce those commitments.

Mid Kaweah GSA is looking to use the 4 Creeks Dairy Model as a guide to assigning ET to a dairy. It looked like .5 a/f per acre is the ET for now. The other change is zeroing out the ET of a fallowed field. Land IQ is looking to refine the ET for fallowing. The data shows there is some ET coming off a fallowed field and that could remove the incentive to reduce the pumping since they are not being credited with the savings. Just counting all the fallowed land as zero ET will be used for now. And the Dashboard for water usage is gaining acceptance – more than 40 percent subbasin wide and increasing.

Developing a better monitoring well system to fill in the data gaps is a priority all over the Valley. There has been some funding that allowed improvements. The Kaweah Water Foundation is involved in developing a better water quality sampling protocol.

GM Report

Fukuda said he’s met with 40 or more growers about the Prop 218 election. He said the growers were leaning towards an emotional vote but they brought their sons to the meeting since this is a next generation issue. The growers feel that TID is doing a good job keeping costs down. They realize there needs to be water purchases as early as possible. Is white area pumping impacting TID? That was a big question. Growers want to know all the efforts to bank water will not be drifted underground out of the district. He was also gratified to hear that many growers feel investments in TID are investment in the community.

Fukuda said 77 percent of the eligible votes were cast and it passed by 82 percent. That’s pretty high for a 218 Election I believe. The board passed Resolution No. 22-15 to certify the results of the ballot. Meanwhile up in Madera County there is a group that announced it will protest today’s Madera County Board of Supervisors scheduled vote to certify that county’s 218 election certification. One likes having their fees, assessments and taxes increased but they need to go to Sacramento if they want change. We’ll see if they break out the pitch forks and torches.

Friant Matters

Fukuda said a mind boggling 48 percent of the earthwork and excavating on the Friant Kern Canal repairs has been completed. The construction crews are very aggressive. A third of the total work has been completed but only a fourth of the schedule has elapsed. The 2023 Friant budget has been approved. This $2.48 million is slightly less than last year’s but much higher than the realized budget figures as many of the expenses that were planned for 2022 won’t come due until 2023. There is also a Friant board retreat coming up in November. Alternative directors are encouraged to attend.


Next Fukuda gave the board an update on legislative issues. First on the list was the infamous AB 2201. He said a small group did meet with the author’s staff and they were completely unwilling to  work on any amendments. So the game shifted from working cooperatively to opposition. There was an appeal to ACWA. It appears the pressure of a potential veto by the governor prompted the author to pull the bill. The bill was a nuclear waste dump of harm to the Valley. It could have complicated and increased costs of well permits to the point of halting well drilling.

The other item was the Governor’s Water Strategy Plan. The new state water czar Antonio Villaraigosa was in Fresno recently but Fukuda was bogged down in the 218 efforts and for some reason I wasn’t invited so points off for that Gavin. The plan has some rosy spots to increase desal and recharge but it balances the efforts on the back of retiring one million acres of farmland. How long do people think they can go without eating?

The new districts like Triangle T WD along the East Side Bypass are seeking flood flows from the San Joaquin River. Friant is concerned opening the fully appropriated stream status on the SJR could create more problems than solutions. Fukuda is part of a group engaging on this issue. He said going to Sacramento isn’t the best move until there is buy in from local districts. Sarah Woolf is also part of this group so it’s good to know folks who understand the issues and have a track record of working collaboratively are the ones hammering this out.

Fukuda has many speaking engagements coming up. He is also hosting a group of UC Berkeley grad students to tour the area. They need more than just book learning.

Action Items

Fukuda said there are a couple of items that he just ran out of time to finish. Things like the contracts for the Okieville Recharge Project and some of the assessment documents. However, the conflict of interest code needs to be updated. It was last approved in the 1990s and was just a copy of what the state law was then. The proposal is to adopt a barebones conflict of interest code that allows changes at the state level to be plugged in every two years. Sounded good. Fukuda showed the board who was included and they will all have to provide Form 770, financial disclosures. The board approved.

The next resolution was to dissolve the Kaweah River Power Authority, a JPA from when the districts owned the power plant at Lake Kaweah. This resolution expresses TID’s desire to pay for the  final audit and associated legal fees to end things at the end of this month. Fukuda said while this was once a profitable venture the power industry isn’t something to be involved in at this time in California. Martin said it is discouraging that hydropower isn’t listed as a renewable energy. And folks wonder why trust in government is so very low. The board approved.

The last item under action is a LAFCo matter. Fukuda said there hasn’t been a detachment from TID in decades. It took some dusting off of the procedure to get this in the hopper and moving. At issue is the district’s Liberty Ditch and easement and nearby residential/commercial development. He said the City of Tulare will back TID. On a side note this triggered the city to review this procedure as no one there remembered how to go about this. The last thing I heard before the board approved was this may require a resolution to pass a resolution to pass this resolution. Wouldn’t surprise me, this is California after all.

Director Reports

The last item for open session is reports from directors. All the directors sit on other boards of interest to TID; like Rick Borges represents TID on the Friant Water Authority board and Martin is TID’s representative to the Mid Kaweah GSA. If you could see the TID agenda all the initials of organizations behind the names of the directors looks like someone spilled alphabet soup.

Martin began with a report on the Kaweah Basin Water Quality Association said the open seats have been filled. He then said due to the poor handwriting he wasn’t completely sure what he was talking about and neither was I. But I did hear there will be a growers’ workshop in Visalia for some reason. Closed session was next and that took us to 11:25am. Go be good to 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, Jeremy Barroll-Engineer, 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



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