Uncategorized

Technical Advisory Committee completes GSP draft review, commits hours to development

MAGSA’s Technical Advisory Committee completed their review of the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

Committee members have given many hours of invaluable GSP draft review and comment as a service to their fellow landowners. Members of the Committee which includes landowners, a County representative, technical consultants and staff, and two Board members, met over the last two years to provide guidance and input on GSP development. The Committee was formed by the Board in August of 2017.

The full Board will review and release the GSP for public review at the July 10th meeting.

Kings Subbasin community residents and GSA leaders gather for groundwater discussion in Riverdale

Panelists discuss complexity of the nearly 1 million acre service area

June 10, Riverdale – A community discussion on groundwater and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) highlighted the complexity of the groundwater Subbasin that covers nearly 1 million acres and gave attendees a better understanding of how groundwater quality will be monitored in the Kings Subbasin.

GSA leaders representing five Kings Subbasin GSAs participated in a panel discussion, emphasizing the feat to coordinate and map out groundwater conditions in a Subbasin that includes 7 GSAs. Panelists included Gary Serrato, Executive OfficerNorth Kings GSA; Matt Hurley, General ManagerMcMullin Area GSA; Steven Stadler, Administrator, James Irrigation District GSA; Mark McKean, ChairNorth Fork Kings GSA; Chad Wegley, AdministratorKings River East GSA; and Ronald (Ronnie) Samuelian, Kings Subbasin Coordinator and Principal EngineerProvost & Pritchard Consulting Group.

Panelists discussed their plans to monitor water quality as it relates to groundwater pumping. Under SGMA, GSAs are required to ensure water quality degradation resulting from groundwater pumping is not significant and unreasonable. The Kings Subbasin GSA leaders emphasized water quality concerns are localized and must be individually looked at due to high variability; there is no one-size-fits-all management tool or threshold for the Subbasin.

Panelists also noted the GSAs will be looking for changes in trends, not one-time spikes in water quality measurements, to determine if there is a water quality concern that needs to be addressed. The GSAs have outlined a network of wells that will be used to monitor water quality moving forward. In many cases this well network is similar to the network used by existing water quality regulating programs, such as the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program that monitors nitrates for irrigated agriculture.

Additional workshop topics included an overview of SGMA, groundwater conditions in the Kings Subbasin, and why it is important for rural communities to participate in groundwater planning. The workshop was hosted by the Kings River Conservation District in association with Self-Help Enterprises.

Stakeholders indicate priorities on potential effects of groundwater conditions

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

Survey results ensure stakeholder concerns are considered in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

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.

(click to enlarge)

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.

Translate »
Questions navigating the GSP?Attend upcoming Office Hours

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) outlines how groundwater will be managed beginning in 2020. Groundwater sustainability experts will be available to answer your questions at our upcoming Office Hours chat. 

GSP Office Hours Chat 

Wednesday, September 18th from 11:00 am-1:00 pm 

Click button below for  more info.