The East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its advisory committee on Monday, August 20, 2018 at the Exeter Museum in Exeter. Before the meeting one of the gentlemen present said he’d just got back from Chile. He said some very favorable things about farming there. With the Andes to the east, a desert to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west the arable portion of the country is for all purposes an island to the rest of the world. They don’t have much of an insect problem and import Haitians for labor. The Haitians make about a quarter of what a farm laborer would make here and happy to get it. All the harvest season lasts about three months and that’s it.

Chairman Joe Ferrara called the meeting at 4:14pm. After self-introductions the agenda was approved and during public comment grower Karen Yohannes asked the committee to advise the board to review seepage allocation in open session before making any determination. Evidently, the technical advisory committee hasn’t exercised much “tac-t” in dealing with this at a prior meeting.

General Manager Michael Hagman reported an attorney from these parts has requested exempting fractured rock wells within the sub basin and part of this area is in the EKGSA. This guy said the same thing to the Greater Kaweah GSA. Both GSAs responded by saying take it up with DWR. They don’t want to get in the middle of it. I asked some leading questions about who and where and why but in a display of tact Hagman and Ferrara said they aren’t going to engage in speculation. Another agreement between GSAs in the Kaweah Sub Basin is data from the area between the GKGSA and the EKGSA. It was decided the EKGSA is in a better position to determine what is happening on its western side.

Provost & Pritchard’s Matt Klinchuch showed some draft figures developed by GEI Engineers given at recent public outreach events. The figures were largely derived and extrapolated from the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District’s Water Resource Investigation. For instance; sub basin inflows were broken down into five categories: 290 TAF irrigation return flows, 158 TAF conveyance percolation, 130 TAF precipitation, 80 TAF natural channel and 44 TAF recharge programs. There are challenges to all these numbers so that is why Klinchuch emphasized there are draft numbers only. Hagman said for example if the eastern inflows and the western outflows are net neutral he believes the irrigation return flows of 290,000 a/f is too high. Attorney Ravi Patel said if someone imports water from the CVP and that water percolates below the root zone it is considered imported water. Water coming into the sub basin naturally and diverted and percolated has not been determined conclusively who gets credit. If that water had not been stored would it have seeped into the sub basin or gone further down-stream? This is new legal territory and there are plenty of arguments on both sides. Patel said it will be better to firm up the figures before getting into a fight.

Using US Bureau of Reclamation figures more than 60-years old GEI drew up a chart showing how many acres and how much water per acre was used in the East Kaweah and how much average recharge occurs. There was a considerable difference between the five districts making up EKGSA. There is also the Wutchumna Mutual Water Company in the mix. Why so far back in time? The figures were developed before either the Terminus Dam on the Kaweah River or the Friant system. This is a look at the true hydrology of the area.

Next Klinchuch spoke about the GSP Chapter development. So far the administrative portion is doing pretty good. The basin setting – the geology portion is at draft stage. Groundwater conditions and water budgets are still under way. Potential projects are being discussed like recharge and micro basins. Additional conveyance for flood deliveries and such. The all important water budget should be ready by October, at least a draft version. Committee member Alan Lombardi asked about over pumping and Hagman said that will be included in the GSP. Klinchuch said public review of the GSP is scheduled for July 1, 2019.

Hagman said EKGSA has been getting credit for things it hasn’t done. He met with the other GSAs in the Sub Basin and GEI apologized for blaming EKGSA for slowing things down. I missed a heck of a meeting the other day.

Trilby Barton, P&P gave the board an update of the public outreach and communications efforts. She has accomplished a great deal. Hagman praised her for getting the word out to growers.  She’ll add a frequently asked questions section to the website. The meeting then adjourned.

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ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2018 by Don A. Wright   No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of DAW.

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.

EAST KAWEAH GSA 315 E. Lindmore Street, Lindsay, CA 93247. Telephone 559/562-2534. Mailing address PO Box 908 Lindsay, CA 93247   Meetings vary but some are held at the Exeter Museum in Exeter.

Members: County of Tulare, City of Lindsay, Exeter ID, Ivanhoe ID, Lindsay Strathmore ID, Lindmore ID and Stone Corral ID Staff: Michael Hagman – Executive Director, Ravi Patel – Attorney