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Resources available to help MAGSA growers apply for grant funding

Up to $1 million in grant funding is available annually through 2026 for MAGSA growers as part of NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) WaterSMART Initiative.

To support growers in applying for this funding, MAGSA hosted an educational webinar on August 10 in partnership with the Farm Service Agency and NRCS where 44 participants learned more about eligibility requirements, projects they can receive funding for, important application steps, and more. The MAGSA team also developed a digital Application Guide to walk growers through the entire EQIP application process.

EQIP WaterSMART Application: Pathway to Success

The recommended EQIP application period is October 1st through December 1st, 2022. Before submitting an NRCS EQIP application, MAGSA growers must enroll in the Farm Service Agency as soon as possible.

Once MAGSA growers have completed their EQIP application forms, they will need to submit them to NRCS. MAGSA is hosting four Application Drop-Off events so growers can drop off their forms in Kerman rather than the Fresno NRCS field office. Growers can also attend to receive application feedback directly from an NRCS Soil Conservationist. 

These EQIP Application Drop-Off events are happening from 11:30 AM-2:30 PM at the Kerman Community Center on the following Fridays:

  • October 14
  • October 21
  • November 4
  • November 18

Landowners can access grant funds in dedicated MAGSA funding pool thanks to NRCS-EQIP WaterSMART Initiative

A $1 million funding pool is available to MAGSA landowners every year for the next 4 years through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) WaterSMART Initiative.

MAGSA was selected as a priority area to receive the targeted funding pool to help eligible farmers and ranchers make improvements for collective water conservation and drought resilience.

Through the initiative, NRCS provides eligible EQIP applicants with the additional resources and tools needed to manage soil moisture, improve irrigation water use efficiency in crop and pasture lands, and protect irrigation water sources from depletion. This may include water delivery automation and monitoring, irrigation water management and conveyance, sprinkler irrigation systems, and more. 

MAGSA’s Implementing Rules & Regulations for Groundwater Well Metering, Measurement, Monitoring, and Construction Policy outlines requirements for well meters and telemetry by January 31, 2025. To assist in meeting the well metering and telemetry requirements, MAGSA strongly encourages applicants to use this opportunity to fund their well flow meters and telemetry!

MAGSA landowners who hope to take advantage of grant funds can apply using the normal EQIP application process but will benefit from competing with significantly fewer applicants for grant dollars. Any MAGSA applications will be sorted automatically by NRCS to compete for the MAGSA-only funding pool.

Growers who are interested must still meet the NRCS EQIP funding eligibility requirements. To be eligible, an applicant must own or lease and manage their land and have an average gross income of $900,000 or less.

MAGSA is planning a series of outreach workshops and events to assist eligible growers with the application process. The first is a webinar to provide an overview of the process. In October, MAGSA will host application workshops and drop-off events in Kerman to make the process as seamless as possible.

MAGSA is assisting our growers with the application process!

Join us for an upcoming webinar on the NRCS EQIP Application Process. This webinar is for MAGSA landowners and operators who are interested in applying for grant funding. Attendees can expect to leave this event with:

  1. A clear understanding of the EQIP application process, including how to enroll in the Farm Service Agency (a critical first step!).
  2. Connections to local NRCS field office staff.
  3. Confidence to complete the application process.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022
12:00 – 1:00 PM Via Zoom Webinar

Adopted policy amendments introduce new moratorium on well construction below Corcoran Clay and 300-foot domestic well depth recommendation

Amendments to the Groundwater Well Metering, Measurement, Monitoring and Construction Policy and Related Policies were adopted by the MAGSA Board at their July 6th meeting.

The amendments introduced a temporary moratorium effective July 7, 2022 on well construction below the Corcoran clay tapping the confined aquifer. The policy states the purpose for the moratorium is “to provide an opportunity to better the number of wells currently constructed to extend below the Corcoran Clay and to gather sufficient additional data to be used to assess the effect of those [wells]…”.

Because wells drilled below the Corcoran Clay are generally understood to be directly associated with chronic subsidence in the Central Valley, MAGSA plans to gather data on existing wells to better quantify and analyze their impact on subsidence.

Also included in the amendments is a strong recommendation that no new domestic wells be constructed less than 300 feet deep. The recommended depth is below the minimum threshold for wells outlined in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The minimum threshold is the lowest allowable groundwater depth before MAGSA reaches an undesirable result. Under SGMA, MAGSA must work to maintain groundwater levels above these minimums. 

Are you a domestic well owner? Find important resources on MAGSA’s website here.

Don Cameron re-elected as Board Chair, Matt Abercrombie to serve as Vice Chair

Don Cameron was unanimously re-elected to serve as Chair of the MAGSA Board for a one-year term. “It’s really an honor to serve as Chair of this Board,” stated Cameron. “It’s a different agency from where we first started; we’ve come a long way.” Cameron represents Raisin City Water District, a member of MAGSA’s Joint Powers Authority.

Matt Abercrombie was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the Board. Abercrombie has served in the role in the past, but this last year’s term the role had remained vacant. Abercrombie is appointed by Fresno County as a landowner representative on the Board.

McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Expansion Project finalizes CEQA environmental review process

The McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Expansion Project has nearly completed its first major step of environmental analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). An extensive study undertaken as part of CEQA environmental review found nothing rose to the level of significance that could not be mitigated.

The Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration incudes mitigating measures, environmental factors potentially affected, evaluation of environmental impacts, and a public involvement summary. A Mitigation, Monitoring, and Reporting Program document was also developed as part of the analysis.

A Notice of Determination signaling completion of the CEQA documentation was signed and filed to Fresno County and to the State Clearinghouse on July 8, 2022 pursuant to the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Notice of Determination will be posted for a 30-day period; if there are no challenges, the CEQA environmental review will be considered complete.

Completing the CEQA environmental review is a major milestone for the Expansion Project. The Project will move forward with a second environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), with documents anticipated to be available for public review and comment later this year. 

Public invited to comment on DRAFT amended Groundwater Well Metering, Measurement, Monitoring and Construction Policy

A draft amended Groundwater Well Metering, Measurement, Monitoring and Construction Policy and Related Policies is posted to MAGSA’s website policy page and available for public comment. The initial policy was adopted by the Board in October 2021.The amendments address recommendations for well depth minimums, including for wells designed to produce two (2) acre feet of water or less annually, including domestic groundwater wells.

MAGSA landowners and stakeholders can comment on the policy using the comment form on our website here. It is recommended public comments on the draft amended policy by submitted no later than July 1, 5:00 PST to allow time for consideration.

Are you a domestic well owner? MAGSA has resources and a new webpage dedicated just for you!

We understand drought conditions can put stress on the groundwater aquifer supply we all share. MAGSA is working on behalf of well owners to bring sustainable groundwater levels to our region.

If your domestic well has gone dry or is vulnerable to going dry, call MAGSA at (559) 515-3339 to discuss a path forward. For more information on maintaining your domestic well, what signs indicate your well is vulnerable to going dry, or how to respond if your well does go dry, visit MAGSA’s newDomestic Well Owner Webpage“.

Kings Subbasin GSAs prepare to submit revised Groundwater Sustainability Plans by July 27, 2022

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is the roadmap to sustainability in MAGSA and a requirement of the 2014 California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA required areas designated as medium- or high-priority and critically overdrafted to complete a GSP by January 31, 2020.

MAGSA, along with the other Kings Subbasin GSAs, developed and submitted its GSP and a Kings Subbasin coordination agreement to the State by the January 31, 2020 deadline.

SGMA is an iterative process and includes designated periods for GSP review and revisions. As the regulating and assisting agency under SGMA, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) had two years to evaluate the GSPs. On January 28, 2022, DWR provided notes on what changes needed to be made for the Kings Subbasin GSPs to be complete.

The Kings Subbasin GSA’s were then given until July 27, 2022 to make revisions based on DWR’s comments and resubmit their GSPs. MAGSA and the other Kings Subbasin GSAs have been diligently working together to prepare revised Plans in response to DWR’s feedback and ultimately achieve groundwater sustainability in the region by 2040.

MAGSA’s McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Expansion Project Underway

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County.  The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.

Phase 1 was constructed in 2012-2018 and diverts 150 cubic feet per second (cfs) of flood and storm flows at the James Bypass onto approximately 5,000 acres of private farmland. Phase 2 is currently under design and when constructed will increase the diversion and recharge capacity from 150 cfs to 450 cfs and increase the potential farmland acreage for receiving flood and storm flows for OFR by about 15,000 acres.

Phase 2 utilizes agreements between various public agencies and will be operated in partnership with Raisin City Water District, which will provide matching funds through a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant award. Phase 2 will rely upon and promote regional collaboration in managing water resources and facilitate the setting of regional priorities and increased self-reliance.  Combined, the projects will deliver $22 million in benefits to the area and contribute substantially to the solutions required to offset the overdraft of the last century in MAGSA and the Kings Subbasin. This would certainly be a model for State and Federal cooperation.

The project represents a large-scale demonstration project of OFR for improved and more integrated groundwater and surface waters. The project is the type envisioned by the California Department of Water Resource’s FloodMAR approach, in which OFR projects are a key component in changing statewide management that ranges from local and regional water projects to re-operation of the state and federal reservoirs for an integrated surface water and groundwater storage system that can accommodate California’s variable water supply under the changing climate. 

MAGSA, through its contractor Tetra Tech, are preparing the required environmental analysis and documentation. A draft California Environmental Quality Assessment document is expected to be available for public review during the Fall of 2021. A draft National Environmental Policy Assessment document is expected to be available for public review during the Winter of 2021-22.

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