The Kern County Water Agency’s board of directors met on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at its Bakersfield headquarters operating suspiciously near Oildale. Friant ran a little longer than usual so I walked in just as President Ted Page called the meeting to order a bit after 1:00pm. It was nice to see Jeanie Varga receive an award for helping educate the school children of Kern County on water safety and usage. Varga is also the public information contact for KCWA and she does a great job.

From there things went in a hearing for the zones of benefits. Holly Melton gave testimony for the Agency and Mr. Dennis Fox spoke during the public comment period saying if the power goes out water service will be disrupted and he’s concerned about mosquitoes. He wanted the board to consider find matching grants for this. KCWA attorney Amelia Minaberrigaria asked Melton if the current program has anything matching Fox’s suggestions and the answer was no but the comments will be considered for future inclusion. The board voted to set the assessments for the zones as posted.  

Under directors’ forum Gene Lundquist attended the recent California Farm Water Coalition meeting in Oroville where he toured the dam. He said the damage and the threat from the compromised spillway came close to causing the dam itself to breach. Had that happened the City of Oroville would have been under 200 feet of water. He said there were state employees sand bagging the powerplant turbos at Thermalito to protect them from water. This could have trapped them in the facility where they would have drowned. This is going to cost $1 billion with three fourths of the money coming from FEMA. That leaves $250 million of the repairs on the State Water Project shoulders. KCWA is 25 percent of the SWP.

General Manager Curtis Creel reported he and Page got a chance to speak with Senator Diane Feinstein about the California Water Fix and he felt the knowledge displayed by KCWA was very helpful. Page said Feinstein got the message that KCWA doesn’t see the Twin Tunnels as being economically feasible without federal help. Feinstein told her aids to look up the congressman who represent the Bakersfield area and see what could be done.

The administrative committee report was next and staff talked the board into paying the agency’s bills. The board also approved the financial report and was asked to upgrade the software. Staff said they got the life span and then a bunch from the stuff they got. The board authorized upgrading the system for an amount not to exceed $700,000.

The policy committee was next and this is where the California Water Fix was discussed. Creel said DWR is asking State Water Project contractors to get them a decision next month. On October 12th there will be a special board meeting where the Agency either opts in or out. Brent Walthall explained no matter who builds it the DWR has to be answered to. The construction costs are expected to cost $9.5 billion. This could be as much as $11.7 billion. These are conservative figures. Walthall talked a lot more about land acquisition and the trials of delays. A lot more Article 21water will become available. There was a record setting amount of Article 21 water this past year. He said the bonding will be entered into in phases so the interest won’t hit all at once.

Melton reported on water bank storage in the county and there is more than 1 million acre feet underground. There were a couple of fast SWP Contractor report by Craig Wallace and he said storage on the SWP reservoirs is above average. The state share of San Luis Reservoir is above 1 million a/f. He said the fall X2 line, the place in the Delta measured from the Golden Gate where the salt intrusion into the Delta is allowed is driving the amount of pumping at the state Bank’s plant. Wallace said the Oroville Dam repairs are going day and night.

The board then consider several water transfer requests and since they were routine the general manager approved them. Melton reported Lower Tule River and Pixley IDs will move some Central Valley Project water through the Cross Valley Canal and that was approved by the board. The Kern River runoff was as expected heavy this year. The Army Corps of Engineers have awarded a construction contract for the Lake Isabella Dam work. Melton also reported the Kern Groundwater Authority met yesterday and talked a lot about the coordination agreement. There was talk about cost sharing for the grant solicitation and the GSP framework. Director Royce Fast was at this meeting and he said the goal is to create a template or check list of what needs to be included in the GSP. Terry Erlewine is the new guy to take Eric Averett’s place. Fast complemented staff and others for managing a major year of Kern River water. Staff reported 400,000 a/f of Kern River water was banked this year.

The hydrographs were given and staff reported the bids for the monitoring wells for the Pioneer Project were too expensive and should be rejected. KCWA engineer Martin Varga said there will be some alternatives looked at for new bids. Mark Mulkay, GM Kern Delta WD said he’s found the drilling prices have dropped recently. The board approved rejecting the bids. That was about it.

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Kern County Water Agency

The Kern County Water Agency is the State Water Contract administrators for districts within Kern County.

Board: Division 1 – Ted Page, President, Division 2 – Bruce Hafenfeld, Division 3 – Martin Milobar, Division 4 – Phillip Cerro, Division 5 – Bill Wulff, Division 6 – Royce Fast & Division 7 – Gene Lundquist.

Staff: General Manager is Curtis Creel and in-house counsel is Amelia Minaberrigarai.

KCWA

3200 Rio Mirada Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308 Office: 661/634-1400 www.kcwa.com

Board packets can be accessed on line at: www.kcwa.com/public username: publicuser      password: kcwa1234

Wifi in the boardroom password: h2o!Guest  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.