Documenter: Angelica Hernandez


  • The Root Creek Water District Board of Directors voted to approve an agreement for water service with Wonderful Nut Orchards, LLC. This agreement authorizes a previously approved order of 4,000 acre feet of water to be split into a delivery of 1,500 acre feet to the district and the remaining 2,500 acre feet of water to be sold for profit on the open market. 

  • According to general manager Julia Berry, the accommodation was negotiated after Wonderful Nut Orchards was unable to make the necessary exchanges to deliver the water from Friant. Extremely dry conditions in the Central Valley Project water system prohibited the physical delivery of the full amount; however, the profits gained from selling the remainder could be used to purchase water in future years, if conditions improve and water becomes available. 

  • Last week, the motor for municipal well 1 required emergency rehabilitation. Municipal Well 1, described as a very good producer with good water quality, is used as a main supplier for the residential development at Riverstone. Although they remained in compliance with the use of Well 2 and a backup for drinking water, the situation required the motor to be pulled and taken to a shop immediately without time to get approval from the board. The board voted to approve and authorized the emergency action taken.

  • The board voted to authorize the General Manager to enter into an agreement with Lyles Construction Group for their bid on a project to convert agricultural Well 276 into a municipal use well.

  • District engineer Brian Ehlers said the bid was considered low at roughly $1.2 million despite being higher than the engineer’s estimate. Ehlers described the costs as covid related. This project also includes working with PG&E to reconfigure the electrical panel at that site and installing all new equipment. The well conversion will be funded by water connection fees collected from builders. 

Purpose of Agency

The Root Creek Water District is located in southern Madera County, was formed to address the declining groundwater table in southeastern Madera County consisting of approx. 9,230 acres. From the commencement of the District formation process in 1994, RCWD and its landowners have been working to achieve essentially the same goals that are outlined in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). 

 The District addresses groundwater overdraft by monitoring and analyzing groundwater conditions and determining the water needs of the District. Ultimately, an urban development project located within the District, Gateway Village (now called Riverstone) provided financing for the acquisition of surface water supplies. Gateway Village was approved by the Madera County Board of Supervisors on September 11, 2007 and the District secured surface water supply is sufficient to reverse the groundwater deficit for the entire District.

 The majority of the RCWD water demand and water deliveries now, and for the foreseeable future, will continue to be for agricultural irrigation. The District will also provide urban utility services to the Riverstone urban development, consisting of over 2,000 acres. At build-out, the Riverstone community is projected to include about 6,578 dwelling units, parks, schools, and commercial development. Root Creek Water District will provide water, wastewater, and stormwater management services to Riverstone.

Root Creek Water District Board of Directors:

President: Nick Bruno

Vice President: Jeffrey D. Coulthard, 

Treasurer: Amber Mendoza, 


Eric Bream

Danny Hoffman

Lynn Hoffman

Toni Scarborough

General Manager/Secretary: Julia D. Berry

Assistant Treasurer: Mike Cuttone 

District Engineer: Brian Ehlers

Legal Counsel: Lauren D. Layne

The Scene

The meeting was held via teleconference and accessible by call-in only. General Manager/ Secretary, Julia Berry began the conference call at 10:56 a.m. by announcing herself. Cyrus Torabi, an attorney with the law firm Stradling Yocca  called in shortly after. Vice President Jeffrey D. Coulthard called in at 10:58 a.m. followed by district engineer, Brian Ehlers. Legal Counsel Gabriel Delgado and President Nick Bruno joined at 10:59 a.m. along with Sydney and Emory Wishon, two notable members of the public. Legal Counsel Lauren Layne, Directors Amber Medoza and Lynn Hoffman joined at 11am. Berry announced that there was a quorum of four members present and Bruno began the meeting. 

Meeting Agenda



  • President Nick Bruno called the meeting to order at 11:01 a.m.


-There were no additions to the agenda. 


-Bruno called for public comment. There was no public comment.


  • Bruno asked if there were any conflicts of interest for any agenda items. Julia Berry said there were none.  


a. Root Creek Parkway Intentional Recharge Project CEQA Adoption – Review and consider action to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration according to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for the Root Creek Parkway Recharge Project and acknowledge comments received.

  • Legal counsel Lauren Layne announced that the public hearing for this agenda item was officially opened at 11:02 am. 

    • Layne referenced a packet provided to the board of directors that was not posted for the public.

    • Layne said the packet included the notice for this public hearing as well as the the initial study of the mitigated negative declaration document including the only comment received, from the Madera Irrigation District.

  • Layne was briefly interrupted as Director Danny Hoffman and Chris Montoya from the Department of Water Resources called in and announced themselves.

    • Layne continued by saying that the staff recommendation is to not take any action on the CEQA document because the grant funding was not received for this project. “It’s really not going to be feasible for the district to do this project in the near future.”

    • Layne also said that by the time another grant opportunity comes around it would require the CEQA document to be updated or redone anyway. 

  • Layne suggested for Bruno to open the floor to public comment before closing the public hearing.

  • Bruno called for public comment:

  • Layne thanked Greci and reminded the directors that they received a written request from MID for all CEQA documents as well. 

  • Bruno called for additional public comments. After hearing none, he closed the public hearing and because no action was being taken, moved on to the consent calendar.  


a. Approval of minutes of the regular board meeting on April 12, 2021.

b. Approval of minutes of the special board meeting on April 27, 2021.

-Lynn Hoffman recommended some minor typo corrections for these minutes. Correcting the numbering of the agenda items and calling attention to a misspelling. 

c. Acceptance of the financial statements for the month of January 2021.

d. Acceptance of the financial statements for the month of March 2021.

A motion to approve the consent calendar was made by Director Lynn Hoffman and seconded by Vice President Coulthard. Directors Bruno, Coulthard, Mendoza Lynn Hoffman, Dan Hoffman and Eric Bream voted unanimously to pass the motion. 

7. CORRESPONDENCE: (Members of the Board or Staff may provide comment on any timely matter related to the District that is not included on the agenda.)

  • General Manager Julia Berry said she did not have any to share and Bruno quickly moved on. 

8. Committee Reports- The Board may take action on any of the following items:

a. Water Supply and Utilization Committee

i. Proposed agreement for water service with Wonderful Nut Orchards, LLC. (Water Year 2020-2021) – review and take action.

  • Berry presented this agenda item as a member of the committee. She said that they spoke with Wonderful Nut Orchard about an order of 4,000 acre feet of water, previously authorized by the board. 

  • However since it is a very dry year, they would not be able to physically deliver that amount to the Root Creek Water District. Berry said they were able to negotiate the delivery of an estimated 1,000 – 1,500 acre feet of water, depending on the MID run time, which will be decided this month. 

  • Berry referred to the director’s packet and the recommendation for the board to approve and enter into an agreement for water service, wherein 1,500 acre feet would be delivered to the district and the remaining 2,500 acre feet of water that was ordered “would instead be purchased from Wonderful and then they would be able to sell it out on the open market and they would be able to generate some income from the sale of that water.”

  • Berry pointed out that the district could decide to sell the entire 4,000 acre feet of water, if conditions change and the delivery of the 1,500 acre feet was not possible for any reason. She assured the board that the agreement included provisions for this scenario and she worked with her contact at Wonderful to ensure that it was a possibility. 

  • Berry said, “I think this agreement was well written. I think the terms are a good opportunity for the district to at least get ahead, as far as delivering water and also making a sale of water which would be used for purchasing water in future years.”

  • Berry said the staff and committee recommendation is to enter into the contract. She asked the board if they had any questions?

  • Director Lyn Hoffman asked if Berry could clarify why Wonderful was unable to deliver the initial order of 4,000 acre feet, was it because they didn’t have the capacity?

  • Berry said that ultimately Wonderful wasn’t able to “make the exchanges necessary for water that would be delivered from Friant.” She said that they had plenty of water on the other side of the water system and could easily get water into different areas, but were only able to exchange and deliver 1,500 acre feet on the Central Valley Project side of the water system where Root Creek Water District accesses its water. 

  • Berry said the amount they could provide is affected by the extreme dry conditions this year. Which is why they opted to only place the order of 4,000 when their contract allows them to order up to 7,200 acre feet of water per year.

  • Berry reiterated that Wonderful could only physically deliver 1,500 of the negotiated 4,000 that RWD is entitled to, so the rest will be sold on the market so that the profits from that sale can be used to purchase water in another year. Hopefully, when more water is available. 

  • Bruno called for more questions. There were none. 

A motion to approve the agreement for water service with Wonderful Nut Orchard was made by vice president Jeff Coulthard and seconded by treasurer Amber Mendoza. The motion passed unanimously.


a. Municipal Well 1 Motor Rehabilitation- Review and consider making the

finding that the removal and rehabilitation of municipal Well 1 is an emergency situation and authorize the sole source of Zim Industries to perform the work.

  • Julia Berry offered to present this agenda item. Berry described Municipal well 1 as a very good producer with good water quality and is used as a main supplier for the residential development.

  • In the last week the motor for Well 1 needed to be rehabilitated, which could be categorized as an emergency situation. 

  • Although they remained in compliance with the use of Well 2 and a backup for drinking water, the situation required the motor to be pulled and taken to a shop immediately without time to get approval from the board.

  • This agenda item seeks to approve that action and authorize the rehabilitation of the motor. 

A motion was made by Lynn Hoffman to approve the sole source provider for the emergency situation, it was seconded by Dan Hoffman and approved by a unanimous vote. 

b. Resolution Authorizing the Issuance of Warrants – Review and consider

action to authorize a resolution of the Board of Directors to issue warrants

related to the borrowing of funds for administrative and other costs of the

District in relation to the agricultural and urban components of the District.

  • Berry introduced Cyrus Torabi, an attorney with the law firm Stradling Yocca as legal counsel on this item. 

  • She briefly explained that this agenda item is for the recognition of funds loaned to the district at a 3% rate for operational costs. This includes a legal agreement in place with a landowner (Riverstone) that states RCWD would borrow funds at that rate until there were enough ratepayers within the district, to cover the costs of providing services to their homes. 

  • This item would also update these terms by defining the maximum amount that can be borrowed over the next five years as $15 million. 

  • Torabi chimed by referring to the documents provided in the director’s packet. He described them as short documents with a resolution and a warrant or a promissory note/bond attached. 

  • Torabi said these warrants are issued any time the district would like to borrow money or  memorialize the previously borrowed funds. “The authority to do this is in the water code. It’s basically treated as a short term borrowing for which a ratepayer vote is not required.” 

  • The minimum requirement calls for a five year program, and at the end of five years another resolution would come before the board for approval.

  • He referred to exhibit A of the document to clarify that the numbers were estimates based on assumptions of a borrowed amount. 

  • Torabi asked if there were any questions about the item. 

  • President Bruno spoke up with a question for legal counsel Lauren Layne. He asked if there was any issue with himself and treasurer Amber Mendoza voting on the topic because of their “relationship with RIverstone”.

  • Layne said she didn’t believe there was an issue because the vote is in regards to the district issuing warrants, but advised Bruno that he was free to abstain if he felt it was a conflict of interest. 

  • Bruno said he felt most comfortable abstaining.

Director Lynn Hoffman made a motion to approve the resolution authorizing the issuance of warrants, vice president Jeff Coulthard seconded. The motion passed with 4 votes and two abstentions from Bruno and Mendoza. 

c. Contract for Services Related to Well Conversion– Review and consider

action to authorize the General Manager enter into agreement with the

lowest bidder for construction services for the conversion of agricultural Well 276 to a municipal well.

  • District engineer Brian Ehlers presented this item. Ehlers said they have chosen the bid made by  Lyles construction group for the conversion of agricultural Well 276. 

  • Ehlers said the bid was low at roughly $1.2 million despite being higher than the engineer’s estimate, which he described as covid related costs. 

  • Ehlers also noted that programming was not included in the bill. He said he anticipated returning to the board next month as they do more work related to wastewater treatment. 

  • Ehlers asked if there were any questions. 

  • Julia Berry clarified for the public that this item is the conversion of an agricultural well with very good water quality, to be used for municipal use. She said they have been working with PG&E to reconfigure the electrical panel at that site as well and also noted that this project will be funded by water connection fees collected from builders. 

  • Ehlers also noted that this bid represents all new equipment that will be installed at this well and includes connecting it through half a mile of pipeline. 

  • Bruno asked if the water account would be affected by the bid going over the estimated budget?

  • Berry replied by saying she is “not worried about it” because funds are coming in from an increase in building permits and other sources of revenue.

A motion was made by Lynn Hoffman to approve this agenda item and seconded by Dan Hoffman. The motion passed with unanimous approval. 

d. Central Valley Salts Program- Review and consider action to join CV Salts

Coalition and pay the associated fees to achieve compliance.

  • Julia Berry presented this agenda item. She described the two ways of complying with the CV Salts program. One way is to write their own salts management plan, which would be very expensive. Another way is to join an existing CV salts coalition and pay the fees. 

  • District engineer Brian Ehlers referred to the general form included in the director’s packet. 

  • Ehlers said their recommendation iis to join the coalition, as opposed to doing it on their own. 

  • Berry said this would be similarly structured as the SGMA, where a consultant would create a plan to reduce salts, a management plan and a reporting plan.

  • Berry asked if there were any questions, there were none. 

A motion to join the coalition and pay the fees was made by Jeff Coulthard and seconded by Lynn Hoffman. The motion passed with a unanimous vote. 

e. District Standards and Specifications – Review and consider action to update

District Standard Specifications for Public Works Improvements.

  • District Engineer Brian Ehlers said this update would only affect one specific standard. Specifically a detail that requires a specific pipe support. 

A motion to adopt the new standard was made by Lynn Hoffman and seconded by Dan hoffman. The motion passed with a unanimous vote. 


a. Operations Monthly Report

  • District Engineer Brian Ehlers quickly delivered this report. He referenced a breakdown of “new connections” and services included in the director’s packet.

  • Ehlers said the amount of water in the breakdown indicates the majority of water has been going to municipal users. 

  • Ehlers also said they are looking forward to the construction of a new waste water recycling unit and also promised that Well 1 would be in operation at the end of the week. 

  • Ehlers said he included a list of activities in a memorandum included in the packet so that he wouldn’t need to review all of the different things that have been happening. 

  • Ehlers called for questions, there were none. 


a. Legislation

  • Legal Counsel Lauren Layne presented this report. She started off by mentioning that governor Gavin Newsom was expected to expand the drought declaration today to most of the counties in California. 

  • Layne said that in regards to legislation no changes have been made. She did note that they are still opposing AB 339, which would require meeting agendas to be translated in 11 different languages. 


a. Monthly Operations

  • General manager Julia Berry presented this report. Berry said that a lot of the things they have been working on are showing up on the agenda, which means they are moving forward. 

  • Berry added that 36 building permits have been pulled in the Riverstone development in the month of April. She said that as they are pulled these permits generate income for other projects. 

  • Berry said they are moving forward with the iron sequestration project. She said the regional water quality board authorized them to begin injecting a phosphate material into the water which will stop iron and manganese from reacting with the chlorine, which is also required to be injected into the water. Berry said this is perfectly safe and non-toxic to humans. 

  • Berry said this would decrease the incidences of brown water that some homeowners have been experiencing. 

  • Berry said they are also focusing on facilities acquisition. With the approval of the agenda item for the issuance of warrants, their goal is to try to pursue more opportunities to purchase facilities that are currently being leased. 

  • Berry also said that due to a bond schedule on pace to be sold somewhere between May 17th and 20th “very shortly the district will have plenty of money to pay for facilities acquisition, facilities construction, and paying for projects like Well 276”. 

  • President Bruno called for any further questions, there were none. 

A motion to adjourn was made by Lynn Hoffman, Dan Hoffman seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 12:46 p.m. 

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