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Stakeholders indicate priorities on potential adverse effects of groundwater conditions through survey

In an effort to identify and prioritize stakeholder concerns relating to potential impacts that may result from groundwater conditions, MAGSA conducted a survey. The survey asked participants to rank potential effects that can occur across five sustainability indicators (in bold below) from most important to avoid to least important to avoid.

Top responses across the five sustainability indicators for the effects most important to avoid are:

  1. Reduction in groundwater storage: need to drill new wells
  2. Degraded water quality: impact to crop yield, water treatment for domestic use
  3. Land subsidence: damage to wells, damage to infrastructure
  4. Chronic lowering of groundwater levels: irrigation wells becoming unproductive, reduction of well pumping capacity
  5. Interconnected surface water depletion: concern the trees and riparian habitat will dry up

Adopting Kings Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan provides avenue for future project funding

At the February 6th meeting, the Board unanimously approved the adoption of the updated Kings Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP). As an interested party of the Kings Basin Water Authority, MAGSA can add Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) projects to the Water Authority’s project list allowing for future consideration in grant proposals.

Through IRWMP, the Water Authority supports the development of local solutions through projects and programs for the region’s most pressing water issues. Over the past decade, the Water Authority has brought in over $55 million in state and private grant funding to the region, which has been leveraged into over $87 million for planning and expanding local water management projects.

Stakeholders can impact MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan development with survey participation

Stakeholders in the McMullin Area GSA (MAGSA) are being asked to provide their opinion on potentially adverse effects resulting from groundwater conditions. A survey has been created specifically for MAGSA stakeholders to share their concerns and help prioritize preferences of the GSA’s interested persons.

The responses gathered from the Undesirable Results survey will be used to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) that considers stakeholder preferences for groundwater management. Input from stakeholders at this point of GSP development (timeline below) is important to ensure the GSA’s technical consultants are able to consider public feedback in the GSP chapters’ early drafts. The information from the survey will be considered when the criteria that measures MAGSA’s sustainability progress is established.

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The Undesirable Results survey will serve to prioritize participants’ concerns on the potential effects of reduction in groundwater storage, degraded water quality, land subsidence, chronic lowering of groundwater, and depletion of interconnected surface waters.

For survey purposes, MAGSA’s service area is divided into five survey areas allowing stakeholders to provide input based on knowledge from their specific area of residence and/or work. Because of these different areas, the survey will better inform regional trends within the GSA service area.

MAGSA’s technical consultants are committed in their effort to solicit and implement the feedback of interested parties throughout the development of a GSP.

CLICK HERE to take the survey and impact GSP development.

Matt Hurley Will Lead McMullin Area GSA

At the January 10 Board Meeting, the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) Board announced the appointment of Matt Hurley as MAGSA’s general manager. Hurley will lead MAGSA in the development, adoption, and implementation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the sustainable management of groundwater within the MAGSA service area.

As CEO of Water Management Professionals, Inc, Hurley has extensive SGMA knowledge and background having been heavily involved at the State and local levels with the development of the regulations and implementation of SGMA. He served on the Department of Water Resources SGMA Practitioner’s Advisory Panel and the Association of California Water Agencies SGMA Task Force. “I am grateful to the Board for putting their trust in me as the new general manager of MAGSA. I will bring all the energy and expertise I have to implement SGMA for the best possible outcome for the landowners and communities served by MAGSA,” stated Hurley.

As a licensed attorney, Hurley is fully versed in water law, especially groundwater, in the State of California along with having broad experience in water resource and special district management. In addition to his role as General Manager of Angiola Water District, Deer Creek Storm Water District, and Green Valley Water District for the last ten years, Hurley organized and managed the Tri-County Water Authority GSA in the Tulare Lake Subbasin since 2016. He also served as Board Chair for several local water agencies including the Fresno Slough Water District, Atwell Island Water District, and the Tri-County Water Authority GSA. “Groundwater availability is essential for businesses, farms, and residents to thrive in the McMullin Area. Hurley has the experience and knowledge to navigate MAGSA through the challenges of implementing the State’s new groundwater regulations while minimizing the impacts to our local economy,” stated MAGSA Board Chair Don Cameron.

As a newly formed agency, MAGSA is responsible for developing and implementing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) that will describe localized groundwater issues and identify appropriate solutions. The focus of the MAGSA Board is on local needs, local solutions, and local success. 

Board Approves Joining Regional Water Authority

At the October 3rd meeting, the Board approved requesting to become an Interested Party of the Kings Basin Water Authority. As an Interested Party, McMullin Area GSA can add Groundwater Sustainability Plan projects to the Water Authority’s project list allowing for future consideration in grant proposals.

The Water Authority is a regional water agency formed to develop and implement an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. The Water Authority supports the development of local solutions through projects and programs for the region’s most pressing water issues, like groundwater overdraft. Over the past decade, the Water Authority has brought in over $55 million in State and private grant funding to the region. The funding has been leveraged into over $87 million for planning and expanding local water management projects. The regional goals for the Kings Basin Water Authority are intended to address the primary problems and resource conflicts in the region. The coequal goals are to:

  • Halt, and ultimately reverse, the current overdraft and provide for sustainable management of surface and groundwater;
  • Increase the water supply reliability, enhance operational flexibility, and reduce system constraints;
  • Improve and protect water quality;
  • Provide additional flood protection; and
  • Protect and enhance aquatic ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

The process for becoming an Interested Party requires completing the Water Authority’s Interested Party Questionnaire, formally adopting the Kings Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, and a voluntary contribution of $250.

MAGSA to utilize existing efforts in regional water quality monitoring

At the September 5th Board Meeting, McMullin Area GSA (MAGSA) technical consultant Lynn Groundwater, Provost & Pritchard, discussed the agency’s efficient approach to SGMA-mandated water quality management. The State measures sustainability using six sustainability indicators that when managed appropriately, should avoid “undesirable results”. Significant and unreasonable degraded water quality is included under SGMA as one of the six undesirable results. MAGSA plans to utilize the water quality monitoring efforts of existing regional programs including the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) and the County of Fresno’s Rural Domestic Well Groundwater Quality program.

Under ILRP, this fall 2018 the Kings River Water Quality Coalition will begin sampling groundwater monitoring wells for water quality indicators; designated constituent wells will be monitored annually for Nitrates, EC, DO, pH, and temperature, and every five years for additional indicators such as minerals. Additional sampling data compiled by Fresno County upon installation of new or deepened domestic wells will provide the GSA insight into potential presence of water quality contaminants such as Total Coliform Bacteria or E Coli Bacteria.

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board oil field program is another potential resource for water quality information. The program addresses issues that arise with unlined ponds used to dispose water that is produced as a byproduct of oil and natural gas, a risk to groundwater quality.

The cooperative approach will inform MAGSA’s management decisions to prevent degraded water quality, without unduly repeating regional monitoring efforts.

Board Discusses Potential DWR Funding Opportunity

At the August 1, 2018 Board Meeting, GSA technical consultants Provost & Pritchard reported on a potential opportunity to receive funding and/or services through the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR). To assist efforts to reach sustainability locally, DWR’s Technical Support Services (TSS) provide an opportunity for GSAs to apply for technical services, data, and tools.

Services are offered through DWR regional offices and/or their selected contractors and may include monitoring well installation work, video logging of agricultural wells to assess for conversion to monitoring wells, groundwater level monitoring training, installing extensometers that monitor land subsidence, and/or model training and support.

DWR has a total of $3 million in Technical Support Services available to GSAs statewide, and critically overdrafted subbasins receive priority. The McMullin Area GSA lies within the Kings Subbasin, designated as critically overdrafted. The Board discussed the costs associated with applying versus the potential value of returns. The McMullin Area GSA’s consultants assured that the application process is straightforward and the services could help pay for tasks that have already been budgeted for, such as installing monitoring wells to fill data gaps.

Because applications must be submitted on behalf of an entire subbasin rather than by an individual GSA, the seven Kings Subbasin GSAs would need to agree to pursue the services. Once the general application is submitted by the Subbasin, the GSA could then submit individual requests for services.

The McMullin Area GSA is committed to continually seeking opportunities that lower the cost of reaching sustainability and will continue to assess the value of the TSS provided by DWR.

Groundwater Credit System would bring economic benefit to landowners, while increasing overall water use efficiency

The McMullin Area GSA submitted an application for a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a Water Marketing Strategy Study and Groundwater Credit System. At the July 11th Board Meeting the GSA’s technical consultants Provost&Pritchard discussed the mechanics of a groundwater credit system and its potential benefits for landowners.

While a water marketing program would entail a proactive strategy for bringing surface water into the area, a groundwater credit system focuses on allocating groundwater resources among landowners within the GSA. The two concepts work hand-in-hand, as any additional surface water brought into the GSA offsets groundwater use whether used directly or for recharge.

Under a groundwater credit system landowners would be given a groundwater allocation based on acreage to either keep, trade, or sell to other landowners within the GSA. Under the credit system, a landowner could choose to convert a portion of their land for utilization that decreases their water demand, such as grazing or solar, resulting in surplus groundwater to trade or sell. On the supply side, surface water acquisition could be used to offset groundwater dependence allowing landowners to conserve a portion of their groundwater credit to trade.

Because of the economic benefit attached to unused groundwater under a credit system, landowners are incentivized to practice sustainable water management. With higher efficiency in water use across the GSA, there is potential for improved water reliability and increased flexibility in grower operations. A water marketing and groundwater credit system would work in tandem to bring long-term sustainability benefits while offsetting the potential burden of sustainable groundwater management experienced by landowners.

This is one of the programs the McMullin Area GSA Board is investigating to include in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The program aligns with the Board’s goal of integrating flexibility into compliance on behalf of the landowners they represent.

McMullin Area GSA Pursues Grant for Water Marketing Study and Groundwater Credit System

The McMullin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) is planning to submit a grant application to the United States Bureau of Reclamation for a Water Marketing Strategy Study.  The Study will involve a Water Marketing Study and development of a Groundwater Credit System.

The Water Marketing Study will include interagency outreach efforts to study, coordinate and plan for future surface water transfers.  Topics addressed will include hydrologic studies to identify the likely frequency and quantity of possible transfers, pricing and economic impact studies, legal and water rights studies, and infrastructure evaluations.

The study will also develop a Groundwater Credit System whereby landowners that do not use all of their groundwater allocation in the future can bank, sell or trade it to other landowners.  Topics investigated will include legal issues, pricing options, economic values of local water, socioeconomic impacts, groundwater level impacts, project monitoring, and specific rules and regulations for implementing the program.

Both of these programs will help to expand lines of communication, improve water reliability, improve water flexibility, reduce dependency on groundwater, and reduce future water conflicts.

The application will be due on July 17, 2018 and up to $200,000 is available to applicants.

 

Proposition 218 Election Passes, Keeps SGMA Implementation Local

The McMullin Area GSA Board successfully passed the Proposition 218 Election to adopt a $19/acre property-related fee in accordance with Water Code section 10730(c). Two valid protests were submitted to the GSA in opposition to the proposed fee that will be levied on landowners within the GSA. A majority protest was needed for the Election to fail.

The $19 per acre fee will fund GSA administration and activities related to planning and implementing local projects aimed at achieving State mandated sustainability. The nearest deadline is completion of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) by January 2020. Passing the election to fund this effort is a critical success for local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The McMullin Area GSA Board is committed to retaining local control over SGMA implementation, where landowner dollars are utilized most efficiently and beneficially.

The fee will be collected by the County of Fresno from all parcel owners within the McMullin Area GSA boundaries, excluding parcels of 2 acres or less that are assumed to be de minimus extractors of groundwater under SGMA. Parcels of 2 acres or less were excluded from the Election after the official rate study revealed the cost associated with billing outweighs potential funds received.

You can use the following DWR tool to determine if your property lies within the boundaries of the McMullin Area GSA: DWR GSA Map Tool

Proposition 218 is a Constitutional Initiative approved by the voters of California in November 1996. It requires new or increased fees and assessments be approved by affected landowners.