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Prop 218 renewal is on the horizon

Over the next six months, MAGSA anticipates moving forward in the process of renewing the Proposition 218 assessment. Proposition 218 originally passed in 2018. Currently the assessment is $19/acre, and when passed, was budgeted for five years.

To continue the assessment it must be renewed by July 2023. However, MAGSA’s General Manager Matt Hurley anticipates that fees will not increase, even though assessment rates in surrounding areas have increased in recent years. MAGSA has hired an elections consultant to assist with the efforts.

Prop 218 funding goes toward the activities and administrative functions that propel local sustainability efforts forward in MAGSA. This next cycle will fund a five-year budget through 2028.

Financial aid through grants — hard-earned by MAGSA team — have reduced the likelihood of increasing assessment rates in the coming months.

To hear more about the Prop 218 and ask questions, join our upcoming virtual 2023 Vision Event on January 25th from 4:00 – 5:00 PM.

2023 Vision Event is around the corner!

MAGSA is hosting its third annual Vision Event! This event is virtual only and will be hosted via Zoom Webinar with a live MAGSA panel.

MAGSA’s General Manager Matt Hurley will be accompanied by project staff and technical experts to reflect on 2022 and give direction for the year ahead. Items on the agenda include McMullin Expansion project updates, On-Farm Recharge University, Aquaterra Water Bank project updates, and administrative updates including Prop 218 renewal and the revised Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

This is a great opportunity to stay engaged with all the latest projects impacting the local landscape to benefit our landowners and stakeholders now and in the future.

MAGSA landowners, growers, and community members can submit questions to the technical team ahead of the event. Questions will be answered live during a Q&A at the end of the webinar. You can submit your question HERE.

Spanish and Punjabi interpretations are linked below. View the 2023 MAGSA Vision Event recording here!

MAGSA reminds landowners to be cautious before drilling a well

In light of MAGSA’s moratorium adopted in July, 2022 regarding well drilling through the Corcoran clay, applications to drill new wells below the clay will be directed to cease drilling when approaching the clay layer. Existing wells with depths below the Corcoran clay are not subject to restricted use.

Before submitting well drilling applications, landowners should contact MAGSA at 559-515-3339 or by email at info@mcmullinarea.org.

Pumping below the clay is one of the main causes of land subsidence, a gradual sinking of land caused by chronic groundwater overdraft. It is important to keep groundwater pumping above the clay to meet sustainability measures designated in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

Visit MAGSA’s website here to view the Groundwater Well Metering, Measurement, Monitoring and Construction Policy and Related Policies and to find more information on the moratorium and procedures for well drilling, construction, and meters.

Join Us for MAGSA’s Third Annual Vision Event

MAGSA staff and board members are inviting you to participate in this year’s Vision Event on January 25th at 4 PM via Zoom Webinar. This is an opportunity to hear the MAGSA team reflect on 2022 success and look ahead to growth opportunities in 2023.

This is MAGSA’s third-annual Vision Event, and will include a panel of MAGSA’s team of experts who will give updates, as well as answer your questions during a live Q&A.

In preparation for the live Q&A, MAGSA landowners have the opportunity to pre-submit questions HERE.

The panel will discuss McMullin Expansion project updates, On-Farm Recharge University, Aquaterra Water Bank project updates, and administrative updates including Proposition 218 renewal and a revised Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

In past years, landowners have walked away from the event with more information and a sense of MAGSA’S direction for the following year.

Spanish and Punjabi interpretations and slides are linked below. View the 2023 MAGSA Vision Event recording here!

First-Ever California On-Farm Recharge grower program launches in MAGSA

On November 10, MAGSA launched On-Farm Recharge University the first-ever on-farm recharge grower program in California! On-Farm Recharge University (OFR-U) will consist of six value-packed in-person workshops, field trips, and opportunities for site visits and one-on-one office hours where growers will get support developing an OFR plan customized for their farms. Phil Bachand with Bachand & Associates is leading the technical effort. The course will also include guest speakers from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, UC Cooperative Extension, UC Davis, Berkeley Lab, and more.

MAGSA’s inaugural cohort (Cohort Zero) includes almost 20 participants. Cohort Zero members are primarily growers whose farms are located near the new proposed canal alignment, the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Expansion Project. Growers will leave this course with the knowledge and tools they need to implement On-Farm Recharge practices with confidence.

OFR-University’s Cohort Zero will run through the spring of 2023. MAGSA plans to host several subsequent cohorts in the future,and will extend the opportunity to the greater MAGSA landowner base.

MAGSA continues to pursue grant funding to reduce cost of meters and telemetry equipment for landowners

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) is working on a $2.8 million grant application to the Bureau of Reclamation. If awarded, the grant would pay for more than 50% of cost of electromagnetic meters, telemetry, installation, and the first year of data reporting from the field.

To supplement the remaining cost of meters, telemetry, and installation, a second application is being prepared for a state-funded grant. If awarded, MAGSA would receive nearly a direct match of funds for landowners to cover the remaining cost of installing meters and telemetry. MAGSA continues to pursue grant funding for its stakeholders to ensure the cost of groundwater sustainability measures does not fall entirely on landowners. Receiving both grants could cover the cost of purchasing and installing approximately 1,000 electromagnetic meters and telemetry on wells in the area.

MAGSA’s General Manager, Matt Hurley, has met with a grant writer to ensure best results in pursuing and receiving grant funding for future groundwater sustainability projects.

MAGSA’s NRCS EQIP WaterSMART grant, one of the agency’s recent grant awards, is in its early stages of providing financial support to MAGSA growers. Unlike other NRCS EQIP grants, which are not typically limited to boundary-specific applicants, this funding pool of $1 million is set aside specifically for MAGSA landowners and guarantees the grant money will stay within the GSA boundaries.

First EQIP applications submitted ahead of December 9 deadline

According to the USDA, “While NRCS accepts applications for [EQIP] programs year-round, interested applicants should apply no later than December 9, 2022, for the first application cutoff period.”

MAGSA has hosted a series of NRCS EQIP WaterSMART application drop-off events in Kerman for MAGSA landowners to receive consultation on their EQIP grant applications. MAGSA’s last Application Drop-Off Event is taking place on November 18 from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Kerman Community Center. Landowners can drop in at any point during this time to meet with a NRCS soil conservationist and drop off their application directly in Kerman. RSVP for the November 18 Drop-Off event HERE.

See what a Drop-Off event is like in the video (left). You can also find MAGSA’s EQIP Application Guide and more helpful resources at mcmullinarea.org/eqip.

MAGSA Features series launches with Michael Naito

MAGSA launched a new feature series highlighting groundwater sustainability through the voices of growers, experts, and leaders. In the first MAGSA Features, Michael Naito, owner of Naito Farms, discusses smart irrigation and the future of MAGSA’s groundwater sustainability efforts. Michael discussed how MAGSA benefits from its growers-first approach to achieving groundwater sustainability by 2040. Read the full article here.

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
REGISTER HERE!

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