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MAGSA Receives ACWA’s Rising Star Award for Advocacy Work at State Level

Since the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed in 2014, numerous bills at the State Capitol have been proposed that impact groundwater sustainability agencies and the work we perform implementing our Groundwater Sustainability Plans. MAGSA staff monitor legislative activities and when necessary, engage with our local and state elected officials on legislation to affect the outcome of bills as they move through the legislative process.

Recently, MAGSA was recognized by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) with their Rising Star Award for our involvement in their advocacy program. MAGSA joined with other ACWA members to amplify our voice in support of two bills related to streamlining the regulatory permitting process for water infrastructure projects and setting water supply targets to ensure we have enough water for all beneficial uses. We contacted our local California senators and assembly members to provide insight on the benefits of both bills and asked for “Yes” votes during key legislative committee meetings. We were honored to be recognized by ACWA for our efforts.

With groundwater sustainability and related subject matter remaining a focus for the Governor and legislators, we anticipate there will again be bills introduced in 2024 affecting the local efforts by MAGSA and other groundwater sustainability agencies to work on groundwater sustainability projects. MAGSA staff will continue to participate in efforts to affect the outcome of relevant bills for the benefit of MAGSA landowners.

MAGSA Continues Water Marketing Discussions

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) is reengaging consultants to determine what rules might be required to move forward with a water marketing strategy in MAGSA. This process will include landowner input on the proposed program.

As part of the region’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), MAGSA identified development of a groundwater marketing strategy as an important tactic to help MAGSA landowners comply with potential future pumping limits and provide additional operational flexibility for agricultural lands.

In 2020 and 2021, MAGSA worked with a technical consultant to generate a Water Marketing Report. This report includes several sections describing background conditions and issues related to a groundwater market, followed by a “roadmap” for continued development and implementation of a groundwater market in MAGSA. This report along with recordings of past water marketing workshops can be viewed on the webpage below.

Policy and Rules & Regulations Documents on Telemetry and Well Monitoring Available for Public Comment

The draft Implementing Rules & Regulations for the Amended (2023) Groundwater Well Metering, Measurement, Monitoring And Construction Policy and Related Policies and draft Amended Landowner Incentive Program policy have been posted to MAGSA’s policy webpage and are available for public comment.

These proposed amendments are related to remote telemetry and data management requirements and accompanying incentives for MAGSA landowners. Public comments on the draft documents must be submitted no later than December 1, 5:00 PST to allow time for consideration. MAGSA landowners and stakeholders can review and comment on both documents by visiting the webpage below.

Data collection, reporting and management are indispensable elements of the MAGSA Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The data will need to be collected, stored and managed in a precise, accurate, secure and confidential manner to successfully place MAGSA in a position of achieving sustainability at the earliest possible time while maintaining the highest levels of confidentiality for landowners’ Confidential Information as allowed by law. 

Installing telemetry will save growers time and money, and following MAGSA’s well monitoring process is the “cheapest and most streamlined way to do it,” says MAGSA Board Member, Jonathon Degroot.

MAGSA Meter Rebate Program Will Launch as Soon as Contract is Signed with Bureau of Reclamation

On April 21, 2023, MAGSA was awarded a $2.8 million grant through the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) WaterSMART Program to help fund the purchase and installation of electromagnetic flow meters with telemetry for 925 groundwater wells, along with six weather stations in the region. This grant has led to the creation of MAGSA’s Meter and Telemetry Rebate Program.

MAGSA’s Implementing Rules and Regulations require meters to be outfitted by January 31, 2025 on all wells designed to produce more than 2 acre feet of water annually located within MAGSA’s boundaries. The Meter and Telemetry Rebate Program is designed to alleviate landowner costs associated with MAGSA’s meter requirement. The Program will cover about 40% of the costs associated with purchasing and installing meters, telemetry, and a year of monitoring services. 

Once the grant contract is in effect, MAGSA will mail  growers a detailed  packet outlining the Meter and Telemetry Rebate Program application process. If you do not currently receive mail from MAGSA, contact us at (559) 515-3339 to ensure you’re added to our mailing list. You can also find updates about this program on the funding page below.

What happened after the pump turned on? McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Project Update

On March 11 2023, the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Project pump (located at Terranova Ranch Inc.) turned on for the first time during a record-breaking flood season in California. Downstream communities were at risk of serious flooding during this wet period. The McMullin Project was able to protect the downstream communities of the Kings River’s north fork, Mendota, and Firebaugh from serious flooding by diverting the water to be used for on-farm groundwater recharge.

As a result, the McMullin Project has recharged almost 19,000 acre-feet of water back into the aquifer, accounting for about 20% of the groundwater recharge conducted in California during this time period.

The McMullin Project was able to successfully reroute water thanks to state legislative support. Governor Newsom’s Executive Order passed on March 10, 2023 suspended regulations on flood diversion permitting, enabling water agencies to divert floodwater more quickly for groundwater recharge. When the Executive Order passed, the McMullin Project was ready to take the excess water. This vital flood protection and groundwater recharge was only possible because the necessary infrastructure was in place.

“Projects like this start rebuilding the aquifer. Additional structures and conveyance [are] critical to reaching resilience in the San Joaquin Valley.”

~ Don Cameron, MAGSA Board President & Terranova Ranch Inc. General Manager

The McMullin Expansion Project, Phase 2 of this existing project, will increase the conveyance from the James Bypass from 150 cfs to 450 cfs and expand acreage able to receive flood flows for on-farm recharge from 5,000 to over 40,000 acres. MAGSA is committed to the increasing groundwater recharge and securing a sustainable future for the region through projects like the McMullin Project and its Expansion.

Fresno State Awarded Half a Million Dollar Grant to Support MAGSA Farmers with Irrigation Efficiencies

Fresno State Awarded Half a Million Dollar Grant to Support MAGSA Farmers with Irrigation Efficiencies

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
August 14, 2023

KERMAN, California — On July 25, 2023, the California State University, Fresno Foundation was awarded a $499,609 grant through the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Water Efficiency Technical Assistance (WETA) program to support farmers in the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA).

The purpose of this grant is to support MAGSA farmers in implementing efficient irrigation and nutrition management practices, ultimately leading to water and energy savings.

The Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) at California State University, Fresno, was the lead applicant and MAGSA was the partner applicant for the WETA grant. This partner project will involve the development of training materials, field days, educational workshops, and a variety of technical resources for MAGSA farmers on topics such as:

● Collecting and interpreting soil and water sensor data
● Regulated deficit irrigation strategies and tools
● Irrigation system maintenance
● Soil field capacity, permanent wilting point, and other information about soil-water-
plant-atmosphere relationships

This is a three-year grant program with implementation likely to begin in November 2023.

MAGSA’s goal is to help the region achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040. CIT’s expertise and partnership over the next three years will help MAGSA growers work toward this goal, increasing their efficiency by farming more with less water.

View a list of all CDFA WETA grant awardees here.

Proposition 218 Acreage Fee Renewed for Next Five Years

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) landowners and board approved the renewal of the Proposition 218 acreage fee of $19/acre for an additional five years through fiscal year 2027-2028. The Public Hearing was opened on June 7, 2023 and closed on July 5, 2023 in Kerman, CA. 

No written or verbal protests were submitted to MAGSA in opposition to the proposed fee that will continue to be levied on landowners within MAGSA. A majority protest was needed to prevent the renewal of the fee. The $19/acre fee will fund MAGSA administration and activities related to planning and implementing local projects aimed to achieve groundwater sustainability and meet Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requirements. 

The fee will be levied via County tax rolls on all landowners within the GSA excluding parcels of 2 acres or less. To determine if your property lies within MAGSA you can use this CA DWR map tool.  The MAGSA board originally set the rate at $19/acre for the fiscal year 2018-2019 following a Proposition 218 election in 2018. Due to an aggressive pursuit of financial aid for the region through a variety of grants, the acreage fee did not increase.

Learn more about the Proposition 218 Acreage Fee Renewal HERE.

New MAGSA Well Owner Guide Available

A new Well Owner Guide has been made available online at mcmullinarea.org/wellownerguide to support MAGSA well owners. The Well Owner Guide breaks down well requirements, recommendations, and frequently asked questions. Topics discussed include drilling a new well, well registration, meters and telemetry, and financial incentives.

A postcard was mailed to MAGSA landowners in June discussing this new Well Owner Guide, and pointing well owners to a recommended meter, telemetry, and monitoring package available to landowners at a discounted rate. This discounted rate was made possible through a $2.8 million Bureau grant awarded to MAGSA to mitigate the cost of meters and telemetry for growers. Stand by for additional information about this special rate. MAGSA is working to assist landowners in meeting meter and telemetry installation requirements by January 31, 2025.

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) EQIP WaterSMART Funding in Progress

Congratulations to MAGSA landowners who were selected to receive funding from last year’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) EQIP WaterSMART grant. The grant includes a $1 million funding pool available to MAGSA landowners every year through Fiscal Year 2026. For those landowners who did not participate or were not chosen in last year’s round of funding, look for information in the coming months about how to participate in the upcoming funding cycle.  

Department of Water Resources Provides Financial Assistance for Flood Control and Recharge

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to receive financial assistance for groundwater recharge within its boundaries. This financial assistance comes after Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order allowing water to be diverted for the protection of downstream communities at risk of flooding due to the record amount of rain and snow this year.

Since March, the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture Project, located at Terranova Ranch Inc., has been pumping flood water that would otherwise cause flood risk to the communities of Mendota and Firebaugh, downstream of the Kings River’s North Fork. This flood water is being used for on-farm groundwater recharge to replenish the underlying aquifer. Under the agreement, DWR will reimburse MAGSA for fuel and pumping expenses of approximately $300,000 incurred since June 1st for the McMullin Project. Prior expenses were covered by Terranova Ranch Inc.

In addition, DWR is offering financial assistance for agencies removing orchards when the acreage is then used for groundwater recharge. MAGSA has entered into an agreement to remove 80 acres of orchards on the north side of the agency’s boundaries that are planned to become a retention/recharge pond. This financial assistance is saving MAGSA approximately $100,000 and will provide even more opportunities for future groundwater recharge.  

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