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Stakeholder Alert emails will notify public of draft board policies

MAGSA is moving swiftly to adopt board policies, establishing a foundation for how groundwater will be managed in the years to come. The fastest way to engage in this process is via MAGSA’s email updates (sign up here). These policies will operate as rules and guidelines impacting stakeholders, and ultimately ensure MAGSA can effectively and sustainably manage groundwater within the area it serves. Stakeholders will be notified and invited to comment on draft board policies via “Stakeholder Alert” emails. All are invited to review and provide comment via an online comment form or at a MAGSA Board Meeting.

Engaging stakeholders and landowners remains a groundwater management priority. Water resources management impacts our growers, businesses, and community residents. Developing successful programs and projects that benefit the long term viability of MAGSA’s service area requires the valuable insight of stakeholders into the groundwater management process.

Groundwater conditions improve overall in the Kings Subbasin in water year 2019, Annual Report shows the data

The McMullin Area GSA (MAGSA) together with the six other GSAs in the Kings Subbasin submitted the first Annual Report to the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) by the initial April 1, 2020 deadline. Thanks to favorable hydrology for the reporting period, Kings Subbasin groundwater conditions improved overall with groundwater storage increasing by 210,000 acre-feet Subbasin wide. The Annual Report informs the State and stakeholders on groundwater conditions in the Subbasin and focuses on water year 2019 (Sept 2018 – Oct 2019), a hydrologic “wet year” seeing 134% of average diversions on the Kings River, the majority of surface water supply to the region.

Combined surface and groundwater use in the Kings Subbasin across sectors including agriculture, urban, and managed recharge, totaled 2.7 million are-feet for the period. The report indicates groundwater extractions in MAGSA represent an estimated 30% of total 1.06 million acre-feet extractions Subbasin-wide. The MAGSA service area relies on groundwater to fully meet its water demands, and in the coming months and years plans to pursue any additional available surface water to bring into the agency to offset groundwater use. This strategy paired with water use efficiency, conservation measures, and demand reduction will over the long run positively impact the Kings Subbasin sustainability effort.

Correcting MAGSA’s estimated 91,000 acre-feet of annual overdraft is key to achieving sustainability as a Subbasin, and it will take steady implementation of projects and programs outlined in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The groundwater allocation and water marketing program currently being studied is a major shift that would improve water use efficiency across MAGSA while allowing landowners to take water management decisions into their own hands.

Considering this first report was prepared just months after the submission of the GSPs, the data does not stray from data already included in the seven Kings Subbasin GSA’s GSPs. Although, the Subbasin used the opportunity to include any additional data collected through the reporting period and established a template for future reports. Data was collected from the seven GSAs’ monitoring networks, groundwater extractions, surface water supply, total water use, and changes in groundwater storage.

Following the adoption of a GSP the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires GSAs to submit Annual Reports to DWR on April 1 every year as a tool to track and communicate GSP implementation progress.

There is no grading or scoring criteria on the Annual Report, and DWR expects this first report to be missing some information considering the short timeframe between GSP adoption and the report due date.

To stay up to date on MAGSA’s groundwater management activities, sign up for our interested persons email list here, and follow us on Twitter @McMullinAreaGSA!

MAGSA will respond and adapt to evolving COVID-19 circumstances; April 1 Board Meeting cancelled

As the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve, MAGSA will respond, adjust and adapt to those circumstances with the health and safety of its stakeholders, Directors, staff, and the broader community as its number one concern.

Due to lack of available meeting facilities, MAGSA has cancelled its April 1 Board Meeting, with tentative plans to hold a meeting on April 15. If circumstances continue to make in-person meetings difficult, MAGSA is working on an alternative to make Board Meetings available to the public via live webinar or similar technology. Check the website regularly for updates.

MAGSA remains confident that the growers, business owners, and community residents that make up its service area are incredibly resilient. Despite uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to move in a forward direction alongside our stakeholders to secure a thriving and sustainable future.

While at all times operating under recommended precautions, MAGSA Directors and staff are working continuously on behalf of the landowners we serve, making forward progress on Groundwater Sustainability Plan implementation to close the gap on groundwater sustainability in the Kings Subbasin.

MAGSA Fully Empowered as a GSA

On January 28, 2020, MAGSA and the six other GSAs in the Kings Subbasin jointly submitted their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) to the Department of Water Resources for initial review.  As set forth in the SGMA legislation, completion of this action immediately and fully vested all of the oversight and enforcement powers of a GSA with the MAGSA. This submittal now places this tremendous responsibility, and the fantastic opportunity to locally and collaboratively, sustainably manage the groundwater beneath our feet, squarely in the hands of the MAGSA Board and the MAGSA landowners they represent.

In its Groundwater Sustainability Plan, the Board has adopted a glide path approach to sustainability, allowing a landowner room to adjust and continue to thrive over the 20-year implementation period. The goal of reducing groundwater overdraft by 91,000 acre feet has been divided into phases. The Phase 1 target amount is a 10% reduction or 9,110 acre feet by 2025.

The MAGSA Board and Staff will immediately begin working on achieving this target through implementing management actions and projects and programs identified in the GSP, such as implementation of enhanced efficiency irrigation conservation practices, a robust data gathering and management system, or a water marketing program. The Board continues to strongly encourage involvement and input by landowners and stakeholders in fleshing out the most effective groundwater sustainability programs that can immediately be implemented. The future of groundwater sustainability truly is in the hands of MAGSA. The best possible outcomes and success in accomplishing this will come from the ideas, cooperation, and substantial efforts of all of MAGSA’s landowners.

Ways to Get Involved

A New Era in Groundwater Management Begins

Kerman, CA – A new era in the sustainable management of groundwater in a portion of Fresno County for the next 20 years and beyond was initiated by the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) Board of Directors with the unanimous adoption of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) at their November 6 meeting.  

“This action by the Board represents two years of focused effort by MAGSA’s Board, technical consultants, and stakeholders to develop a plan that gives our landowners the tools and flexibility they need to effectively manage their groundwater use,” stated Board Chair Don Cameron. “MAGSA has taken a critical first step to secure the future of opportunity and economic viability for the landowners in the region.”

MAGSA is the first of seven groundwater sustainability agencies in the Kings Subbasin (and one of the first in the State of California) to adopt their GSP, which must be submitted to the State for review by January 31, 2020. MAGSA’s GSP is one of the foundational elements to achieve sustainability in the King Subbasin, a critically overdrafted groundwater basin that lies within Fresno County.  

“Having the first GSP to be completed and adopted in the subbasin is a testimony to the determination of the Board and MAGSA landowners,” stated MAGSA General Manager Matt Hurley. “MAGSA has distinct challenges to overcome. It is a groundwater use only territory with a large portion of the area without water district oversight,” stated Hurley. “Being first out of the gate with a solid, informed Groundwater Sustainability Plan indicates on day one that MAGSA is up to the challenge.”

Approximately 55% of MAGSA’s 118,783 acre territory is within the service areas of Raisin City Water District and Mid-Valley Water District with 45% of MAGSA’s service area located outside of local water districts in what is referred to as the “white areas”.

MAGSA’s GSP is a roadmap for how to achieve balanced levels of groundwater supply and defines a path forward for groundwater sustainability. It describes localized groundwater conditions and identifies innovative solutions. The GSP does not propose starting off with pumping restrictions, changes to cropping patterns, land use conversion, or land fallowing. Instead, MAGSA’s top priority is to develop water supplies. Another immediate implementation action is to fill data gaps to form a more comprehensive and accurate picture of groundwater conditions. MAGSA’s Board is proposing a phased approach over 20 years to mitigate the target overdraft of 91,100 acre-feet per year, MAGSA’s allocation of the Kings Subbasin total 122,000 acre feet per year overdraft.

Starting in 2017, the MAGSA Board created a stakeholder-driven process with monthly public meetings by the ad hoc technical advisory committee to provide GSP updates and receive input from the public. This informed the development of the GSP, ultimately creating a more robust document for the localized MAGSA area. In July 2019, the Board approved opening the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for a 90-day public review and comment period. First in the Kings Subbasin to release a full draft GSP, MAGSA staff and consultants allowed ample time to consider comments and make any necessary revisions to the draft prior to adoption and submittal to the State by the January 31, 2020 deadline.

In spirit of cooperation, MAGSA delays adoption of Groundwater Sustainability Plan to address comments

Having received several comments in the last few days leading up to the October 16th Public Hearing on its draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan, the MAGSA Board agreed to hold off on consideration of Plan adoption until the November meeting. Matt Hurley, MAGSA’s General Manager, recommended the delay in an effort to appropriately address the comments received.

This will include re-convening the Technical Advisory Committee for review of the latest comments submitted and for an updated TAC recommendation to the Board. Considering stakeholder input has been foundational to MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan development, MAGSA wanted to be sure to give adequate and respectful consideration to those who took the the time to provide comment.

Comments received prior to the October 9th Technical Advisory Committee meeting were previously addressed in the latest updated draft version of the GSP.

Once the review of the latest comments is complete, it is expected the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan will be in front of the MAGSA Board once again for adoption at the November 6, 2019 meeting in Kerman. The final adopted GSP will be made available on the MAGSA website.

Recent outreach activities engage MAGSA stakeholders in Groundwater Sustainability Plan review

A workshop held in Kerman followed by an online webinar brought both seasoned and newly engaged stakeholders to the table, as MAGSA’s technical consultants explained the ins and outs of groundwater conditions and the plan to meet SGMA-mandated sustainability by 2040. Both events took place in August during the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan 90-day comment period.

A September “office hours” chat offered both online and at MAGSA’s Kerman office presented another opportunity to connect with MAGSA’s General Manager and technical staff.

Engaged stakeholders posed thoughtful questions related to MAGSA’s priorities for GSP implementation when it comes to projects and management actions. MAGSA staff highlighted the importance of improved groundwater data gathering, citing working with growers on a data gathering program as a top priority.

Visit our GSP Portal resources page for workshop materials, videos, and powerpoint slides: GSP Resources

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.

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