The Kern Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability Agency held its board of directors meeting on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at the Kern County Board of Supervisors chambers in downtown Bakersfield. KGAGSA Chairman Dennis Mullins called the meeting to order about 8:00am and after roll call, approval of the minutes and accounts payable and receivable Patty Poire gave the board an update on the draft 2019 budget. Mullins urged the other board members to get this approved at the home boards. The special activities agreement #4 was also given $110,000. I believe this is the agreement with the Kern River GSA to share costs on the Todd Groundwater studies and modeling.
Harry Starkey, General Manager of the West Kern Water District gave the board an explanation of why WKWD wants to remove lands from the GSA and is requesting an letter of support from the KGA. WKWD has about 2,000 acres of recharge basins on its northeast side. Wells there pump water to all of the district. There is no usable groundwater in the district but there are lands without any alluvial groundwater within the district. They want to remove this land from the Kern Sub Basin, about 250 square miles. A geologist whose name I missed gave a very good explanation as to the rational to do so. I even understood the reasoning. There were hills and mountains included that would not yield any groundwater and don’t fit in the hydrogeological basin as defined by SGMA. The geologist had more of a petroleum background and said almost all the first liquid reached when drilling in the proposed di-annexation is heavy oil. What water is there isn’t of very poor quality. Greg Hemmit, GM of West Hills WD also said they are fine with the application. The board approved a letter of support.
Eric Averett, GM Rosedale Rio Bravo WSD gave a presentation on moving water around under SGMA at a recent ACWA gathering. He shared this with the board and said this is in concept only but a necessary area to look at. He said it has a lot to do with conveying water. He gave an example of a grower who won’t have enough surface and groundwater. You can either find more water to import or reduce demand by fallowing. He doesn’t want to fallow much if it can be helped. RRB has been looking at landowners aggregating lands within the district or they can lease land within the district and use that water on their land. RRB is also looking at a water charge for use above sustainable yield. That water charge can be used for bringing in new water and for expanding recharge. He gave another example of a grower with less valuable alfalfa in the district and more valuable almonds in a white area. They are looking at the ability of that grower fallowing the alfalfa and using the water on the almonds. What his talk boiled down to was making groundwater transfers a part of the SGMA strategy to prevent undesirable results. Averett was asked if this could trigger a CEQA study and he didn’t think so if it is included in the GSP. At least that’s what I thought he said. RRB takes 99 percent of its surface water and recharges it. The growers pump and don’t receive ditch water. Mullins said he doesn’t expect most GSPs to have pumping limitations until 2025 but that might change if this is incorporated. Terry Erlewine, Executive Director KGA asked about incorporating this now. Averett said there is a lot of technical analysis and this might be too heavy a lift to do now but he hopes to find ways to avoid water being stranded as an asset.
Poire next spoke about coordinating efforts. She said time is not the friend and the coordination agreement needs to move forward. The KRGSA is working up a draft C-A and expects this to be ready by the end of November. The deadline for individual GSP chapters is February. She also said the Olcese WD GSA will be joining the sub basin wide weekly manager meetings.
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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