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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

MAGSA First to Release Groundwater Sustainability Plan in the Kings Subbasin

At the July Board Meeting, the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) Board approved opening the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 90-day public review and comment period. First in the Kings Subbasin to release a full draft GSP, MAGSA staff and consultants are intent to allow ample time to consider comments and make any necessary revisions to the draft prior to submittal to the State by the January 31, 2020 deadline.

MAGSA’s consultant Provost & Pritchard provided the Board with an overview of the GSP, which lays out MAGSA’s historical and current groundwater conditions providing a snapshot of where MAGSA will start in 2020. MAGSA’s Board is proposing a phased approach over 20 years to mitigate the target overdraft of 91,100 acre-feet per year, which is MAGSA’s allocation of the Kings Subbasin 122,000 acre feet per year overdraft.

MAGSA’s GSP is a roadmap for how to achieve balanced levels of groundwater supply and defines a path forward for groundwater sustainability. The GSP does not propose starting off with pumping restrictions, change of cropping patterns, land use conversion, or fallowing of land. The first of the management actions is to develop water supplies. Another immediate implementation action is to fill data gaps to have a more comprehensive and accurate picture of groundwater conditions.

The MAGSA Board and staff have welcomed broad public participation in the development of the draft GSP over the last two years, holding numerous public GSP technical update meetings to provide an in-depth look at GSP progress. Technical consultants and the Board consistently present the opportunity for members of the public to provide guiding feedback on the GSP’s components during Board Meetings. MAGSA hopes to continue this trend of public participation through the official 90-day public review and comment period.

Members of the public are invited to take part in this important process by reviewing a copy of the GSP document, available for download on MAGSA’s website at mcmullinarea.org/gspcomment, and submitting comments. The review period will conclude at the MAGSA Public Hearing set to take place Wednesday, October 16th at 2:10 pm at the Kerman Community Center.


Click below to download the GSP, and to find more information regarding the Public Review period.

Ready to comment? Click below to access our online comment form:

Board Continues Current $19 Fee

At its recent July 10th Board meeting, the McMullin Area GSA Board approved the continuation of the currently assessed $19.00 per acre property-related fee for fiscal year 2019-20. Based on assessable acreage of 114,475, this generates a projected revenue of $2,175,025. This amount covers the July 1 – June 30 fiscal year budget of $1,891,600, which is the amount approved by MAGSA landowners in the fee election passed in 2018. Also included in the budget is a contingency/reserve fund in the amount of $283,700.

At the same meeting, the Board also released for immediate public review the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the McMullin area.  With this milestone release, General Manager Matt Hurley noted MAGSA will begin focusing upon transitioning from the planning phase into implementation phase of local groundwater management in early 2020. Hurley stated that by mid-year 2020, there will be a more clear understanding of the requirements and specifics related to SGMA implementation detail, thus allowing for an updated look at the budget needs for the following fiscal year. Based upon the near term expectations for costs that may arise with this new and complex regulation, the Board supported the recommendation to maintain the $19.00 rate for the upcoming fiscal year 2019-20.

Public encouraged to review and comment on MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan, first released in the Kings Subbasin

At the July 10, 2019 Board Meeting, the MAGSA Board approved opening the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 90-day public review and comment period. Members of the public are invited to take part in this important process by reviewing a copy of the GSP document, available for download on MAGSA’s website at mcmullinarea.org/gspcomment, and submitting comments.

Input from the public is important as GSP policies and plans will impact stakeholders in the region for the years to come. The GSP documents historic and current conditions, and defines a path forward for how groundwater will be sustainably managed.

First in the Kings Subbasin to release a full draft GSP, MAGSA staff and consultants are intent to allow ample time to consider comments and make any necessary revisions to the draft prior to submittal to the State by the January 31, 2020 deadline.

The MAGSA Board and staff have welcomed broad public participation in the development of the draft GSP over the last two years, holding numerous public GSP technical update meetings to provide an in-depth look at GSP progress. Technical consultants and the Board consistently present the opportunity for members of the public to provide guiding feedback on the GSP’s components during Board Meetings. MAGSA hopes to continue this trend of public participation through the official 90-day public review and comment period.

Stakeholders can submit comments a number of ways: an online comment form at mcmullinarea.org/gspcommentform, by email to comments@mcmullinarea.org, or by mail/hand deliver to the MAGSA office in Kerman (275 S Madera Ave., Suite 301, Kerman 93630).

The review period will conclude at the MAGSA Public Hearing set to take place Wednesday, October 16th at 2:10 pm at the Kerman Community Center.


Click below to download the GSP, and to find more information regarding the Public Review period.

Ready to comment? Click below to access our online comment form:

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.

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.

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