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Agency Updates

Groundwater monitoring: What is the best program for South Fork Kings GSA?

Discussion ensued at South Fork Kings GSA’s March Board meeting around the best groundwater monitoring program to carry out in the agency. Most GSAs in the Tulare Lake Subbasin are partnering with Land IQ to collect data on cropping patterns and evapotranspiration (ET) measurements. El Rico is focusing on using data collected through well metering.

The South Fork Kings GSA’s technical consultant, Amer Hussain, Geosyntec, encouraged the Board to move forward on a plan for collecting groundwater data in the GSA. Hussain shared that Geosyntec will provide details about the success of approaches other GSAs have used to help the agency determine their next steps.

ASR Pilot Test set for early April and more grant funding on its way

South Fork Kings GSA is utilizing California Resiliency Grant funding to carry out an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) pilot test.

ASR is an innovative groundwater management method used to inject water for underground storage to be withdrawn later when surface water is limited, especially during periods of drought.

A contractor has conducted necessary improvements on well heads for the project to move forward. On Wednesday, March 31st, an aquifer pump test will be carried out. This test will last about a day and involves running a pump at different speeds and determining the sustainable rate of extraction that can be maintained. A limited constant flow test will also be performed to evaluate water levels. Any water that is extracted over the course of this test will be sent to the Lemoore Canal system.

This pump test will help determine what aquifer parameters are necessary to finalize the ASR pilot test. After these steps are completed, the ASR Pilot Test is projected to be carried out in early April.

SFKGSA is in the process of drafting a report update on the ASR Pilot Test and grant funding, and once the report is submitted, the GSA will be able to receive the second half of the California Resiliency Grant. The second half of the grant totals $100,000 and will provide necessary funding to complete the ASR Pilot Test. Grants such as this one allow SFKGSA to take important steps toward achieving sustainability goals in the region and securing groundwater for generations to come.

Tulare Lake Subbasin Annual Report to the State in progress

Following the adoption of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to submit annual reports to the California Department of Water Resources on April 1st of every year.

The Annual Report serves to inform and update both the State and stakeholders on groundwater conditions and sustainability progress in the entire Tulare Lake Subbasin. GSA managers in the Tulare Lake Subbasin are coordinating to ensure important data is included in this year’s Annual Report. The Report will include information from the Tulare Lake Subbasin’s five GSA’s monitoring networks, data on groundwater extraction, surface water supply, total water use, water quality, and changes in groundwater storage. View last year’s report here.

You can also explore the Department of Water Resource’s SGMA portal here. This portal allows local agencies and GSAs to submit, modify, and view the information required by SGMA, and allows the public to view submitted information and provide comments when applicable.

Frank Gornick appointed to represent City of Lemoore on Board of Directors

Frank Gornick, City of Lemoore Council member, joined the SFKGSA Board of Directors filling Seat 1.

In 2019, Gornick was honored by the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce as the city’s Citizen of the Year for his service as the Chancellor of the West Hills College District. According to The Leader, “Gornick’s leadership transformed the local district.” SFKGSA is honored and excited to welcome Director Gornick to the Board.

At the January 21, 2021 Board meeting, Director Gornick was nominated and appointed as the Secretary of the Board. Click HERE to learn more about the SFKGSA Board of Directors.

Progress made on Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) pilot test

Since approved to conduct an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) test in November, the South Fork Kings GSA has made substantial progress to pilot the high priority project.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is an innovative groundwater management method used in many parts of the United States to inject water for underground storage to be withdrawn later when surface water is limited, especially during periods of drought. The South Fork Kings GSA included ASR in its Groundwater Sustainability Plan as a high priority among the portfolio of projects to bring groundwater supplies into balance and received a grant to test the concept locally.

To date, the South Fork Kings GSA purchased transducers and hired a contractor to modify wells for the test. An aquifer pump test is scheduled for early February to determine key parameters for this project. Lemoore Canal Company has agreed to provide up to 75 acre-feet of water for the pilot test which will consist of three main phases. Water will be injected for a three-month period, stored for two months, and then taken out and used on surrounding fields.

The ASR Pilot Test is funded by the Climate Resilience Grant, a grant that was awarded by the Bay Area Council Foundation in June 2020 to help local communities across California strengthen their resilience to climate change. Read more about how SFKGSA obtained this $200,000 grant here.

Tulare Lake Subbasin will submit grant application for recharge projects in the region

Preparations are being made to apply for round one of the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) SGMA Implementation Grant, available to critically overdrafted subbasins. South Fork Kings GSA will work to submit a letter of support on the Tulare Lake Subbasin’s grant funding application for recharge projects that bring basin-wide benefits.

The Subbasin is currently considering which projects in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, a joint document outlining sustainability in the Tulare Lake Subbasin, to submit for funding. Groundwater recharge projects under consideration are outside of the South Fork Kings GSA but bring a benefit by meeting subbasin-wide sustainability objectives. Groundwater recharge is a primary tactic for improving groundwater conditions by which extra surface water, rainfall and snowmelt, is captured to sink below the soil into the groundwater aquifer.

The SGMA Implementation Grant is funded by Proposition 68, with the first round providing $26 million for critically overdrafted subbasins. The Subbasin has not yet determined its funding request amount. The maximum award is $5 million, and minimum is $2 million.  

Another $77 million will be available in round 2 for medium-priority, high-priority, and critically overdrafted subbasins. The South Fork Kings GSA is in the Tulare Lake Subbasin, designated under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to be critically overdrafted.

Groundwater Data Protection Policy adopted unanimously following committee and public review process

The Groundwater Data Protection Policy was adopted unanimously by the South Fork Kings GSA Board at their December 3, 2020 meeting. The draft was available for a 30-day public comment period beginning October 19 and ending November 18 and was revised under the direction of the Policy Committee after receiving one comment.

The policy outlines the South Fork Kings GSA’s duties and obligations in the process of acquiring data from landowners within its service area, with intent to keep any data collected private to the fullest extent allowed by the law. The South Fork Kings GSA will use publicly available information to learn about groundwater wells and pumping data, while working to engage in cooperative relationships with landowners to gather critical data for successful groundwater management.

Steve Jackson appointed to Policy Committee

The South Fork Kings GSA Board approved the appointment of Steve Jackson to the Policy Committee at its December 3rd meeting. Jackson is involved in ongoing SGMA efforts in the South Fork Kings GSA and serves on the Board of two Tulare Lake Subbasin GSAs, Tri-County Water Authority and Southwest Kings.

The Policy Committee is tasked with the development of policies that will guide the South Fork Kings GSA in its efforts to achieve groundwater sustainability in the area. A Groundwater Data Protection Policy adopted by the Board was developed under the guidance of the Policy Committee. The Committee will continue its work to draft policies in the coming months.

Tulare Lake Subbasin awarded $500,000 DWR grant to recover GSP development costs and fund future monitoring efforts

The Tulare Lake Subbasin received its full grant funding request of $500,000 from the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR). The Tulare Lake Subbasin, encompassing the South Fork Kings GSA, was among 53 applicants statewide to receive funding to support Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development and implementation.

The Subbasin plans to use $350,000 of the funds to recover a portion of the GSAs’ contributions to finalize development of the GSP, the roadmap to balance groundwater supplies. The remaining $150,000 will be divided among the GSAs to fund GSP implementation activities. The South Fork Kings GSA plans to utilize its portion of the funds to support groundwater level monitoring efforts, a critical data-gathering activity for assessing sustainability progress.

DWR awarded approximately $47 million in total grant funds across the State. Proposition 68, passed in 2018, provides a significant $46.25 million of awarded funds. The additional $1.6 million is provided through Proposition 1, passed in 2014, conditional upon future reappropriation of grant funds in Fiscal Year 2021/22.

The grant is part of DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program providing funding for sustainable groundwater planning and project implementation through a competitive grant solicitation process. The Subbasin was previously awarded $1.5 million for GSP development in an earlier round of the program’s solicitations.

In addition to the DWR grant program the South Fork Kings GSA Board will continue to pursue other funding opportunities to offset the costs of implementing SGMA. At this time two additional grant funding opportunities are being pursued. An application has been submitted for DWR’s Technical Support Services grant to fund monitoring well installation. The well would provide data on groundwater levels in the deep aquifer zone below the Corcoran clay. A separate application was submitted for a private Climate Resiliency Grant to fund outreach efforts and Aquifer Storage and Recovery pilot testing.

Contract Approved with Geosyntec Consultants

The South Fork Kings GSA Board Members approved a contract with Geosyntec Consultants for technical engineering consulting services at a special board meeting held on August 17. The contract has two tasks. Task 1 is to provide general project management tasks through the end of Fiscal Year 2018. This task covers work for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018, from August 17, 2017 to June 30, 2018. The budget for Task 1 is not to exceed $24,000.

Task 2 will be to assess the funding alternatives for GSP development and implementation. The Geosyntec team will prepare an analysis of current and future funding alternatives to meet the GSA’s obligations under SGMA. The funding strategy could include a combination of various Federal or State programs, new legislative opportunities that are created on periodic basis, and a Prop 218/Prop 26 special district election process.  Task 2 covers work from August 17, 2017 to September 21, 2017. The estimated total fee for Task 2 is $8,000.

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