Documenter: Olivia Muñoz

Here’s what you need to know

  • The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will host an informational workshop for the public on June 8, 2021 on the agency, its rules and regulations, and accounting timeline. Open to the public. 

  • According to a presentation by Community Water Center on a well mitigation program, about 222 domestic wells (99%) in the Eastern Tule GSA are expected to go dry. The Board tabled discussion and action until the next meeting.

  • The Board approved GSA to GSA water transfers and will evaluate at the end of the water year (October 1).

  • Approved contributions to the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint Education Fund.

Purpose of Agency

Since late 2014, the public agencies in the Tule Sub-basin have been meeting to discuss the implementation of the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The act went into effect in 2015 and provides a legal framework to reasonably regulate production of groundwater in California for the first time in State history (surface water has been regulated since 1914). SGMA generally gives local agencies the authority necessary to physically manage groundwater in designated basins or subbasins, and prevent unreasonable physical harm to the basin or the water resource. Additional Information on the meeting

Roll Call

Board members present via Zoom:

Eric Borba, Chairman, Porterville Irrigation District 

Steve Kisling, Vice-Chairman, Saucelito Irrigation District 

Dennis Townsend, County of Tulare 

Mike Knight, City of Porterville (proxy for Monte Reyes)

Matthew Leider, Teapot Dome Water District 

Curt Holmes, Kern-Tulare Water District 

Geoffrey C. Galloway, Terra Bella Irrigation District 

Dyson Schneider, Vandalia Water District 

John Corkins, White Area 

Administration/Staff present via Zoom:

Rogelio Caudillo, General Manager 

Josh Fox, proxy for legal counsel 

David DeGroot, consulting civil engineer 

Named and unnamed members of public

Not present:

Monte Reyes, City of Porterville

Aubrey Mauritson, Legal Counsel 

The Scene

This meeting was held virtually via Zoom with 34 logged-in attendees (but the board was all under one account).

Board seemed to be gathered physically and Zoomed in from one account named “Eastern Tule GSA” with no video on, which made it hard to know who and when an official was speaking. Documenter typed into the chat a request for speakers to identify themselves because video was off, but this request was unacknowledged. 

Public Comment

There was no public comment.

Announcements / Presentation 

  • The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency will hold a workshop aimed at landowners in the ETGSA region on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, at 2 p.m. at the Tulare County Fairgrounds, 2700 Teapot Dome Avenue, Porterville. The workshop will outline the Rules and Regulations adopted to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and will include presentations on the ETGSA background, the rules associated with ETGSA water accounting and water transfers, schedule for invoices, and an overview of how to utilize the online BasinSafe water accounting program. The workshop will be video recorded and available online after the meeting for those that cannot attend. Open to the public. 

  • Presentation from Community Water Center on “Well Mitigation Program” by Justine Massey, Policy Advocate, Community Water Center, Slides available in English and Spanish. 

    • Massey highlighted the potential negative impact of current drought on local domestic wells

    • According to Massey, 99% of wells in the Eastern Tule GSA area are estimated to go dry — about 222 wells. This research is a funded GSP Dry Wells collaboration between the Community Water Center and the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability. More here.

    • From the collaboration’s water website: “About 1.5 million residents of California’s Central Valley rely on private domestic wells for drinking water, and many of these wells can, and oftentimes do, fail during drought or as the result of unsustainable groundwater management.”

    • The Well Mitigation Program was created to help “GSAs to mitigate, prevent, and address any adverse effects on drinking water wells caused by groundwater pumping volume or location, conjunctive management, or any other forms of active management as part of Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) implementation. By doing so, GSAs can better achieve the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), avoid jeopardizing access to safe water in vulnerable communities, and also avoid violating California laws that establish a statewide Human Right to Water and that protect access to safe water.”

    • Board tabled any discussion and will take action on it at the next meeting.

  • ETGSA Land Subsidence Management Zone Plan Draft. 

    • Dave De Groot: has gotten feedback from various committees. Still soliciting feedback. Will compile reports after another round of feedback. Public comment period will end in July 2021, then will be brought to board in August 2021. 

    • Public comment from Stacie Ann Silva: Will the agency release an updated map for this project? De Groot: Yes

Action Items

The Board unanimously passed the following action items:

Approval of the May 6, 2021 Meeting of the Board Minutes 

Approval of the May 18, 2021 Special Meeting of the Board Minutes 

Contribution to Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley Education Fund for 2021

GSA-to-GSA Transfers

  • De Groot: This practice is consistent with other GSAs in the area (Lower Tule and Pixley); Will start now and be reevaluated in next water year (October 1).

Consider approval of ETGSA Emergency Ordinance No. 2021-01

  • Gives the option to opt out if the parcel is non irrigated ag land. Owner doesn’t get groundwater credit allocations; can sign up later and back pay/ pay fees. Usage is still monitored.

Financial Statement review, ratification of bills paid and approval of bills to be paid. 

Approval of Tulare County FY21-22 Budget Form and approval of Agency Authorized Signatories for Disbursement of Funds. 

Discussion and action tabled for future: Subbasin Boundary and Split Legal Parcel

  • 3 parcels that needed clarity

  • Counsel: This agreement applies to parcels split in some way — this is only for those where the line goes through, not bordering or away from the boundary. There are some “islands” within Porterville City limits that are annexed, ruled and regulated by the city; those not annexed are regulated by E. Tule GSA. 

  • Public Comment: specific questions about a parcel; clarification on language of Opt-In Agreement form [see image of screenshot]

  • NEXT: Attorney will look over Opt-In Agreement language; move issue to stakeholders and then executive board.

Report: Stakeholder Outreach and Community Engagement 

  • Average attendance to meetings has been 30-45 people

  • Public workshop on June 8

At approximately 3:45 p.m. the board went into closed session to discuss the items detailed on the published agenda:

  • CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION: [Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)] 3 Number of Potential Cases: One 

  • PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE EVALUATION: [Government Code Section 54947] Title: General Manager 

No end-of-meeting or the closed session’s report were captured.

Next Regular Meeting – Friday, July 9, 2021 at 1 p.m. [differs from usual Thursday meeting day]

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