Documenter: Bre Yamaoka

Here’s what you need to know

  • The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is considering drought-related decisions that may result in a “call” on Friant Division water supplies, which may affect drinking water supply, irrigation, groundwater supplies and chinook salmon population in the San Joaquin River. FWA is communicating with SWRCP regarding the actions being considered.

  • A letter from the Bureau of Reclamation states Water Year 2021 is currently the driest on record since 1977, with below average rainfall and a snowpack that failed to materialize.


  Friant Water Authority Board of Directors

  • Edwin A. Camp, Vice Chairman, Director – Arvin-Edison Water Storage District

  • Kole M. Upton, Director – Chowchilla Water District

  •  Tim Orman, Alt-Director – City of Fresno

  • George Porter, Director – Fresno Irrigation District

  • Loren Booth, Director – Hills Valley Irrigation District

  • Christopher Tantau, Past Chair, Director – Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District

  • Kent H. Stephens, Director – Kern-Tulare Water District

  • Michael Brownfield, Director – Lindmore Irrigation District

  • Clifford R. Loeffler, Chairman, Director – Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District

  • David Brown, Director – Orange Cove Irrigation District

  • Jim Erickson, Secretary/Treasurer, Director – Madera Irrigation District

  • Eric L. Borba, Director – Porterville Irrigation District

  • Steven G. Kisling, Director – Saucelito Irrigation District

  • Edwin L. Wheaton, Director – Terra Bella Irrigation District

  • Rick Borges, Director – Tulare Irrigation District

  • Josh Pitigliano, Director – Lower Tule Irrigation District

  • Matt Leider, Vice President – Laux Management Inc.

 Friant Water Authority Staff

  • Jason Phillips, Chief Executive Officer

  • Don Davis, General Counsel

  • Doug DeFlitch, Chief Operating Officer

  • Ian Buck-Macleod, Water Resources Manager

  • Alexandra Biering, Government Affairs and Communications Manager

  • Johnny Amaral, Chief of External Affairs

  • Christopher Hunter, Director of Technology

  • Don Willard, Business Administration Manager

  • Chris Hickernell, General Superintendent

What is Friant Water Authority?

From their website: “Friant Water Authority (Friant) is a public agency formed by its members under California law to operate and maintain the Friant-Kern Canal and to represent our members in federal or state policy, political, and operational decisions that could affect the water supply of the Central Valley Project’s Friant Division. Our goal is to provide dependable, sustainable water from Millerton Reservoir to Friant Contractors.” Principal infrastructure includes Friant Dam, Millerton Lake, Friant-Kern Canal, and Madera Canal. Friant Water Authority Newsletter – April 2021

The Scene

The Board of Directors meetings are held in-person at the Visalia Convention Center and via Webex (phone and video options available). The meeting took place in an auditorium with board members and staff seated around a U-shaped table. Board members and staff were visible via video, Board members and staff in person at the Visalia Convention Center did not wear masks. There were 31 participants on Webex. 

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the agenda stated “In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order (N-29-20) and continuing social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, due to space limitations, in-person participation at this meeting will be limited to Directors, FWA staff and staff of Friant Division Contractors.” It was noted that they are looking forward to a return to in-person participation, as it is a substantial amount of work to host virtual meetings and one of the downsides of not being in person is not being able to hear as well.

Reconvene into Open Session

The Board meeting reconvened to Open Session at 10:54 a.m. There was no reportable action taken during closed session. It was reported that Director Christopher Tantau recused from the Meritt property agenda item due to doing business with the entity.

Public Comment / Public Presentations

There was no public comment. 

Consent Calendar

The agenda stated the following: “The following routine matters will be acted upon by one vote, unless a Board Member requests separate consideration of the item.” The Council unanimously voted to approve the agenda items on the consent agenda, including: 

·         Approval of the Minutes – Board of Directors Meeting of March 26, 2021

·         Approval of the Minutes – Special Board of Directors Meeting of April 15, 2021

·         Approval of the Minutes – Board of Directors Meeting of April 29, 2021

·         Accept Cash Activity Reports for April 2021 and pay the bills for May 2021

Action Items

The Board passed the following action items:

·         New Accounting Position – The Board will review the recommendation for establishment of a new Financial Analyst / Project Accountant position in the Accounting Department

o    Passed but not unanimous: Fresno Irrigation District and City of Fresno voted against

·         Appointment of CFO Wilson Orvis to serve on SLDMWA Finance and Administration Committee as an alternate member

General Updates & Reports

·         Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction Project Activities and Schedule Update

o    Phase 1 project proposals due from construction contractors 6/17/2021, Notice of Award is targeted for 10/26/21.

o    Land acquisition: tentative or final agreements with property owners of 8 of 27 parcels, landowner outreach and negotiation in process for the remaining parcels.

·         Water Operations Update

o    State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is considering several courses of action in response to the current drought conditions in California, that may impact FWA water supplies. This includes curtailing junior water rights holders and a Temperature Management Plan for the Sacramento River. FWA reported to SWRCP in May 2021 of potential unintended consequences of the options under consideration, including a reduction in surface water for irrigation and groundwater recharge in the FWA service area (over 1 million Californians live in this area) and threats to the reestablishment of Chinook salmon population in the San Joaquin River downstream of Friant Dam.

o    It was noted there is a range of uncertainty in if there will be a call on FWA and what the scale of deficit will be.

o    Several slides were presented that were not part of the published materials. One indicated a “new history groundwater low established on or about July 4th”.

 ·         Water Quality Guidelines Update

o FWA is working with Reclamation to implement revised Water Quality Policy, the draft Guidelines were presented in summer 2020.  Components are a) Mitigation Ledger, b) Monitoring Plan, c) Quality Model. This is in response to concerns that there are projects/programs on the Friant-Kern Canal (FKC) that may introduce water of lesser quality.

o FWA’s preferred approach for implementation is to have Reclamation directly adopt the updated Guidelines or, alternatively, permit FWA to implement the Guidelines in a manner that is binding on all parties that desire to introduce non-Millerton water into the FKC.

o One of the proposed updates “water contractors introducing water into the FKC will pay an additional volume based on source water quality.”

o Reclamation is still reviewing Guidelines, timeline for implementation not yet established.

 The camera at the Visalia Convention Center was not available at this point in the meeting.

·         External Affairs Activities

o    Alex Biering reported the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed SB559, and there is as of yet no firm plan for proposed $200 million in funding for restoring conveyance capacity on the Friant-Kern Canal, California Aqueduct/San Luis Canal, and Delta-Mendota Canal.

o    CEA Johnny Amaral reported there is a meeting tomorrow with valley legislators to coordinate on plan of attack.

The camera at the Visalia Convention Center resumed.

 ·         San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Update

o    Austin Ewell reported the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley (Blueprint) is working through creating immediate solution plans and near-term project list to provide guidance re: funds to be made available for drought response as part of California Comeback Plan.

·         San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority Update. 

o    San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority is working on update to rates, the rates were set back at beginning of water year and should see new proposed rates in early June. Anticipating increased costs to FWA. The projected water costs sent out earlier this year 15% that he put in there, should have better idea next month

o    Awarded $816,888 to Terracon Consultants for Geotechnical services in support of the feasibility study for Delta Mendota Canal Subsidence Study

·         Board Offsite and Agenda

o    Board offsite meeting to be held at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles, details/materials to be sent out. It will be a combination of closed and open session meetings.

·         CEO Report

o    No report.


Chairman Loeffler Chairman adjourned the meeting at 12:36 p.m.

Next Regular Meeting: June 24, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. at the Visalia Convention Center, 303 E Acequia Ave, Visalia CA 93291.

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