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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!

A groundwater credit program and surface water market may not be too far off. MAGSA awards contract to Geosyntec to study the concepts.

Meeting the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s (SGMA) deadline for sustainable groundwater levels by 2040 is going to require creative solutions in many areas of California. Thanks to grant funding, MAGSA has hired engineering firm Geosyntec to conduct a study on one forward-thinking solution: a groundwater credit and surface water marketing program.

At the March 12, 2020 Board Meeting, the Board approved awarding engineering firm Geosyntec a contract to study the concepts. “We commend the McMullin Area GSA Board for getting ahead of the curve on studying water markets and groundwater credits, and look forward to working with stakeholders, staff and the Board on solutions that best fit the needs of landowners in the area,” stated Amer Hussain, the lead Geosyntec engineer on the study.

Geosyntec has begun work and projects the study will be complete by May 2021.

MAGSA posted a Request for Proposals in December seeking qualified contractors/firms to complete tasks associated with project management and administration, outreach and partnership building, scoping and planning, and water marketing strategy development. The proposal review process was conducted by an ad hoc committee of two stakeholders, one board member, and MAGSA’s General Manager.

The study is funded through a $193,000 WaterSMART grant awarded by the US Bureau of Reclamation, with a cost-share of $193,000. The total project cost is $386,000.

While a water marketing program would entail a proactive strategy for bringing surface water into the area, a groundwater credit system focuses on allocating groundwater resources among landowners within the GSA. Under a groundwater credit system, landowners would be given a groundwater allocation to either keep, trade, or sell to other landowners within the GSA. A well-designed program would improve water use efficiency and provide flexibility for MAGSA landowners.

The Consultant team will be out in the Agency soon providing information and background on these critical topics and will be seeking feedback and opinion from our Stakeholders to assist them in arriving at the best possible solutions tailored specifically for MAGSA.

Keep checking back on the website and in your e-mail inbox (and on Twitter!) for further opportunities to participate in the discussions. If you have not already done so, please make sure MAGSA has current, up-to-date email contact information for you so that we may not lose our outstanding stakeholder input pipeline!

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

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, 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.

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