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News Release

A groundwater credit program and surface water market may not be too far off. MAGSA awards contract to Geosyntec to study the concepts.

Meeting the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s (SGMA) deadline for sustainable groundwater levels by 2040 is going to require creative solutions in many areas of California. Thanks to grant funding, MAGSA has hired engineering firm Geosyntec to conduct a study on one forward-thinking solution: a groundwater credit and surface water marketing program.

At the March 12, 2020 Board Meeting, the Board approved awarding engineering firm Geosyntec a contract to study the concepts. “We commend the McMullin Area GSA Board for getting ahead of the curve on studying water markets and groundwater credits, and look forward to working with stakeholders, staff and the Board on solutions that best fit the needs of landowners in the area,” stated Amer Hussain, the lead Geosyntec engineer on the study.

Geosyntec has begun work and projects the study will be complete by May 2021.

MAGSA posted a Request for Proposals in December seeking qualified contractors/firms to complete tasks associated with project management and administration, outreach and partnership building, scoping and planning, and water marketing strategy development. The proposal review process was conducted by an ad hoc committee of two stakeholders, one board member, and MAGSA’s General Manager.

The study is funded through a $193,000 WaterSMART grant awarded by the US Bureau of Reclamation, with a cost-share of $193,000. The total project cost is $386,000.

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. Under a groundwater credit system, landowners would be given a groundwater allocation to either keep, trade, or sell to other landowners within the GSA. A well-designed program would improve water use efficiency and provide flexibility for MAGSA landowners.

The Consultant team will be out in the Agency soon providing information and background on these critical topics and will be seeking feedback and opinion from our Stakeholders to assist them in arriving at the best possible solutions tailored specifically for MAGSA.

Keep checking back on the website and in your e-mail inbox (and on Twitter!) for further opportunities to participate in the discussions. If you have not already done so, please make sure MAGSA has current, up-to-date email contact information for you so that we may not lose our outstanding stakeholder input pipeline!

Maintaining Status Quo for Water Quality is the Objective

Monitoring groundwater conditions is critical to successfully implement SGMA. Monitoring requires knowing the current groundwater conditions and then checking them regularly to see if conditions have changed. It is similar to regular checkups with your doctor to make sure you are in good health or if there are any changes that may cause concern. With the goal of being sustainable by 2040, checking in regularly on the “health” of the groundwater gives the MAGSA Board an indication whether conditions are okay are if adjustments need to be made. 

At the June 5 technical update, MAGSA’s technical consultant, Provost & Pritchard, presented information on water quality monitoring, one of the six criteria under SGMA that must be monitored. Research and analysis of water quality data shows MAGSA is currently not subject to any chronic drinking water issues.  Based on this analysis of current groundwater conditions, the objective to be sustainable is to maintain the status quo for water quality.

MAGSA will use data provided by GAMA (Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program) to monitor and record groundwater quality on an annual basis. GAMA is an online tool provided by the State Water Resources Control Board. GAMA integrates and displays groundwater quality data from several different sources on an interactive map. Analytical tools and reporting features help users assess groundwater quality and identify potential groundwater issues.

Several contaminants listed by GAMA were identified as being present in various locations within MAGSA but not at levels to cause health concerns. The contaminants include nitrates, 123TCP (trichloropropane), DBCP (1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane), arsenic, chloride, sodium, manganese, and total dissolved solids. These will be monitored going forward to make sure levels stay within the standards set by the government for drinking water quality.

Water Quality Monitoring Wells

Innovative project in MAGSA sparks interest from California water leaders

Don Cameron, MAGSA Board Chair, hosted a public tour of the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture and Recharge Project at Terranova Ranch following the meeting of the California Water Commission on May 15th in Kerman. California Water Commissioners Armando Quintero, Carol Baker, and Maria Herrera joined the tour.

The tour group visited several sites along the project, still under construction. Once completed the project will provide an opportunity to capture available flood flows onto farm land to mitigate downstream flood risks and provide for groundwater recharge.

An important tool in the SGMA toolbox, groundwater recharge projects have the potential in years of excess surface water supply to offset groundwater pumping.

The McMullin project proved an excellent example for leaders of the California Water Commission to see the innovative solutions that will bring progress to sustainability efforts in the Central Valley.

Raffle winner claims prized YETI

MAGSA’s raffle contest concluded at the May 13th Open House, where the winning name of the YETI cooler was drawn. The raffle winner Jacob Niederquell grows almonds in the northern area of MAGSA.

Those on MAGSA’s Interested Persons email list were entered into the raffle for a chance to win the YETI cooler.

Thank you to our raffle sponsor, HP Water Systems for the generous YETI cooler donation.

Congrats to our winner, Jacob Niederquell!

FOX26 Town Hall on groundwater will highlight MAGSA sustainability efforts

MAGSA is a co-sponsor of the upcoming Thursday, May 23 FOX26 live Town Hall: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and will be represented on the panel by North Fork Kings GSA Board Chair, Mark McKean. Other panelists include:

  • Gary Serrato, North Kings GSA
  • Johnny Amaral, Friant Water Authority
  • Mario Santoyo, San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority
  • Thomas Esqueda, California Water Institute

The public is welcome to join the audience in-person at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District or watch from the comfort of their homes. The event will air live on FOX26 from 6:00-7:00 pm and will be streamed live on KMPH.com and the FOX26 mobile app. If you plan to attend as an audience member, it is recommended you arrive around 5:30 pm to secure a seat.

There will be a live audience and viewers will be able to submit questions using a special text number.

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. â€śGroundwater 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. 

Fresno County Agencies will File with State as the McMullin Area GSA, Website is Launched

Fresno County, Raisin City Water District and the Mid-Valley Water District took action at their April 5 Board meeting in Kerman to file paperwork with the State declaring the agency’s intent to be the exclusive groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) for a portion of the Kings Subbasin. The GSA area covers approximately 121,000 acres in western Fresno County.

The Board also approved at their April 5 meeting an outreach strategy to stakeholders that includes the launching of the website, www.McMullinArea.org. The website will provide updates on the McMullin Area GSA activities including information about meetings, committees, and outreach events. McMullin Area stakeholders will also be able to sign-up on the website to receive e-mail updates specific to McMullin Area activities.

In 2014, Governor Brown signed landmark legislation called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in response to declining groundwater conditions exacerbated by the historic drought. SGMA is comprehensive legislation that governs the management and use of groundwater in the State.  Its intent is to provide for sustainable local management of groundwater basins while minimizing state intervention to only when necessary. SGMA mandates that critically overdrafted groundwater subbasins be managed by a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) by 2017, that the GSA create a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) by 2020, and that a subbasin be sustainable by 2040.

To comply with SGMA within the McMullin Area, water agencies and the County of Fresno came together to work on the formation of a GSA. After a number of agency meetings and outreach events to stakeholders, the group chose to formalize as a Joint Powers Authority that includes five board seats with representatives from each of the member agencies. Two seats are filled by Board members from the Raisin City Water District. One seat is filled by a Fresno County Supervisor and one seat by a Board Member from Mid-Valley Water District. The fifth seat is filled by a landowner within the white area who is appointed by Fresno County.

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