The Westlands Water District’s Water Policy Committee met on Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at its Fresno headquarters. Chairman Dan Errotabere called the meeting to order at 11:00am. If Westlands isn’t known for its snappy meetings it should be. The room was packed and while I’m pretty sure I recognized the back of Jose Gutierrez and Dan Pope’s heads it was difficult to see who was speaking. Things usually run fast. After immediately approving the minutes staff presented the committee with the idea of WWD’s Water Quality Coalition’s participation in the Central Valley Groundwater Monitoring Collaborative. This is a big deal considering WWD only represents nine percent of the acreage involved. The committee approved moving this along to the board with a recommendation to join in.
Next ACWA has been reaching out to form a new ag committee and wants WWD’s opinion on who should sit on the said committee. Staff said these committee seats usually only meet during ACWA conferences. There are more ACWA committees than just ag; there’s groundwater and several others. General Manager Tom Birmingham said WWD currently has no body on an ACWA committee. A member of the public or perhaps a staffer spoke adamantly about the benefits of WWD having as many committee members as possible as it serves as an early warning for pending legislation and proposed regulation harmful to ag and farming.
Mark Rhodes presented the water supply and use report. The storage for this time of year is excellent. The state is encroaching on the federal side of San Luis Reservoir but that has been reduced as the federal pumps are working again. Delta inflow is doing well and the water quality in the California Aqueduct is in pretty good shape as well.
The committee then considered four part resolutions: authorizing the filing of Statutory and Categorical Exemptions under CEQA so WWD can contract with the US Bureau of Reclamation under the Central Valley Project for water; An application for a grant from DWR for GSPs; Revisions to Rules and Regs Article Two for the use of ag water within WWD Section 10 rescheduled water and authorization to execute an agreement to transfer CVP water between WWD and the Bureau. Birmingham said one of the parts – I believe the part dealing with SGMA – needs to be considered by other committees before being passed on to the big board.
The next item also dealt with resolutions. It also dealt with WWD getting CVP water and was moved on to the board. This was followed by public comment. Someone said there is a 500,000 acre feet undeveloped water bank on a Shehadey dairy near the San Joaquin River that could be used for leverage or negotiations I’m not sure what word was used, but in reference to Kings River supplies and moving that water around for SGMA or irrigation. I’ve heard of the one million a/f water mound under the waste water treatment plant west of Fresno. I can’t verify either. The meeting then went into closed session.
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Westlands Water District
3130 N. Fresno Street, Fresno CA 93703 Phone:559/224-1523
Board: Don Peracchi-President, Dan Errotabere – Vice President, Jim Anderson, William Bourdeau, Frank Coelho Jr., Larry Enos, Gary Esajian, Todd Neves & Sarah Woolf with two o’s.
Staff: Tom Birmingham-General Manager, Phil Williams-Attorney, Dan Pope-COO
About: Without irrigation, farming in the Westlands area of California would be limited and ineffectual. The history of Westlands is one of continual adaptation, careful water stewardship and advanced technology. By maintaining a fierce commitment to sustainability, the Westlands’ comprehensive water supply system continues to adapt, educate, and surpass conservation goals. Throughout its history, Westlands Water District has demonstrated a lasting dedication to water conservation and recognized that the long-term survival of its farms depends on the effective management of California’s precious water resources. From www.wwd.ca.gov