The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at the Kern County Administration offices in Bakersfield. It appears the cooler weather and the rain have taken a break from the Valley. So, it’s time to get back to work. This morning’s agenda looks pretty busy with six action items before the board. I’ve been to a lot of meetings over the years and I forget how specialized the topic of water is for most folks.

Chairman Dennis Mullins called the meeting at 8:00 am. There were no public comments and the minutes were approved without comment. The treasurer’s report was next and Dick Diamond, General Manager North Kern Water Storage District gave his reports. There was some questions about how the City of Shafter had to make a payment $8,000 less than the other cities involved. All the other cities paid $18,000. A gentleman from Shafter explained payments of $10,000 and up have to go through his city council. The full payment would not have been available so the KGAGSA accepted a partial payment for the time being – if I understood correctly. KGA Executive Officer Terry Erlewine updated the board on the budget. Alan Christian from the City of Bakersfield said to count on six months from the time DWR tells you the grant is ready and to the time the check gets in your hand. The board approved the treasurer’s report.

Erlewine explained to the board the KGA and the Kern River GSA have entered into an agreement to be partners on the modeling costs. This needed to be formalized under a special activities agreement. Or does it? Erlewine turned it over to attorney Valerie Kincaid who said KRGSA was ready to move forward with Todd Groundwater. If the entire board bought into this a special activities agreement wouldn’t be needed. It was presented as a special activity but since the entire board approved it could be either a special activity or a line on the budget. Mullins pointed out the original special agreement is a couple of years old. Erlewine said now Arvin Edison WSD asked to include the White Wolf GSA in the modeling. White Wolf is but against the Tehachapi Mountains on the eastside of Highway 99 south of Bakersfield. Director Royce Fast, Kern County Water Agency announced it is transitioning away from the KGA and into the KRGSA as it has so many assets within the KRGSA. That won’t change the special district status as KCWA won’t be a part of the board and so the members will still be fully committed. Andrew Pandol, Kern Tulare WD moved to clean up the language on the agreement and bring it back next month. The board agreed. Erlewine then presented the board information about Special Activities Agreement No. Four.

KGA’s Patty Poire told the board about the GSA’s outreach plan. There will be workshops for the public coming up next month and in May. Self Help Enterprises will put these workshops on. The remaining amount of the budget will most likely go to Provost & Pritchard for outreach. She reported the KRGSA will work with the KGA to develop a uniform message. She asked the board to approve working with P&P. Further, she reported Self Help received a sizable grant for outreach and she believes in spending Self Help’s money first. Mark Mulkay, GM Kern Delta WD and KRGSA said they can coordinate the upcoming workshop in Arvin. The board agreed to put up $20,000 to make this happen.

Engineer/consultant Larry Rodriguez of GEI reported all the districts in the Kern Basin have been contacted to provide more data. He said about half of the districts have responded and the data was provided to Todd Groundwater.

Erlewine said KGA was going to use the DWR’s CV2SIM fine grid model. All users have to sign an agreement/waver. Todd Groundwater can start input and DWR can fine tune the model. The KRGSA agreed to this but Erlewine is concerned about data sharing limits DWR has imposed. That shouldn’t be too difficult – getting DWR to allow GSAs within the same sub basin to share. Mullins said DWR bureaucrats threw in a bunch of CYA because they aren’t sure about the model – it might be a little wobbly yet until it’s calibrated. The board approved having Erlewine sign a confidentiality agreement and Kincaid felt that would CYA the KGA with the right wording. The board agreed.

Erlewine said Todd Groundwater will be reporting to the KRGSA on April 5th and that’s open to the public. He expects to get Todd to give the KRA a presentation. The Kern Sub Basin is holding coordination meetings. There was talk about formalizing this process so all the various GSPs can be coordinated. Erlewine gave the board a quick update on what has been accomplished and what the forward work plan has coming up.

Jim Beck of the Hallmark Group updated the board on the white area north of the Kern River and east of the Cawelo and North Kern WD. It’s about 150,000 acres. Seven of the big landowners (there’s a least 1,000 of them) requested Hallmark Group educate them. A good meeting ensued and the goal is to form a district to represent the landowners. It will be non-profit and a non-voting, associate member of the KGA.

Erlewine said the Olcese WD has bowed out of the KGA.

Kincaid’s report was the last one before the meeting adjourned. She said the legal issues paper was finalized Monday and she thinks it will be helpful moving forward. She said this document provides guidance on rules such as how to treat in-lieu pumping or groundwater quality. It’s a 60-page list of rules. Nineteen attorneys have reviewed this document over the course of months. Mullins thanked Kincaid for this monumental task. He called it an impressive example of attorneys working together. He said the only places there isn’t consensus is where the law on groundwater isn’t clear.

Kincaid also reported on Prop One funding. She expects DWR to wrap it up and provide funds. There was only one application per sub basin allowed and that was provided by KRGSA. She said she’d like to see more consensus about the sharing of funds between GSAs in the sub basin. As it is now if the KGA submits a reimbursement under Prop One it goes through KRGSA. She also sees the leaving of Olcese WD as an omen to future realignments. Mulkay said KRGSA is willing to come to an agreement and since it takes DWR so long to write a check they should be able to get the details worked out. Bill Taube, Kern Water Bank said he’d like each district’s percentage identified so if they move around the value can be recognized. And that was that.DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide his 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.

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SGMA The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 calls for the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Areas within Basins and Sub-basins to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans.

The Kern Groundwater Authority membership:

Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Cawelo Water District, City of Shafter, Kern County Water Agency, County of Kern, Kern-Tulare Water District, Kern Water Bank Authority, North Kern Water Storage District, Olcese Water District, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Semitropic Water Storage District, Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District, Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District, Tejon-Castaic Water District, West Kern Water District, Westside District Water Authority & Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District