Tulare County Supervisors Vote to Join the Greater Kaweah GSA

Various groundwater districts, including the Kings County Water District, Lakeside Irrigation, and others, will form the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainabiltiy Agency.
Various groundwater districts, including the Kings County Water District, Lakeside Irrigation, and others, will form the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainabiltiy Agency.

Tulare County Board of Supervisors (TCBOS) voted on August 23 to approve a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) with Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Kings County Water District, Lakeside Irrigation Water District and St. John’s Water District to form the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).

During the meeting Supervisor Pete Vander Poel was appointed the representative of the county to the JPA and Supervisor Steve Worthley as the alternate.

This is the second Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) in the Sub Kaweah Basin to be formed. The first GSA to be formed was the Mid-Kaweah GSA that comprises of the city of Visalia and Tulare and Tulare Irrigation District.

The third and last GSA to form will be the East Kaweah GSA also known as the Foothills GSA. That agency will be comprised of mainly the foothills area such as Stone Corral Irrigation District, Ivanhoe Irrigation District, Exeter Irrigation District, Lewis Creek Water District, Lindsay/Strathmore Irrigation District, and the City of Lindsay, among others. It is projected that the East Kaweah GSA will officially come together to form a JPA in September.

Tulare County sits almost completely on top of the Sub-Kaweah basin. A small section of Tulare County is part of the Tulare Lake Sub Basin to the west, and the Kings River Sub Basin to the north.

Forming and running a GSA can be expensive for the entities involved. Costs for the Greater Kaweah GSA are projected to be $55,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, $533,100, in FY 2017, and $1,000,000 in FY 2018. Costs just for the county will be $9,350 in FY 2016, $90,950 in FY 2017, and $170,000 in FY 2018.

According to county staff, these numbers are estimates and re not explicitly discussed in the JPA. Actual costs may vary depending on the level of effort, professional services and staffing necessary to comply. Using the above model Tulare County’s share would be about 17% of those areas not covered by irrigation districts or within city limits.

In 2014, the California Department of Water Resources announced that every local water agency within the medium and high-priority sub basins form one or more GSAs by June 30, 2017 or risk the state setting its own regulations for the area. GSAs are a requirement of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) adopted by the California Legislature in 2014. SGMA requires that GSA basins in critical overdraft, such as the Kaweah Sub-Basin, must develop a sustainability plan by January 31, 2020 and must achieve a level of sustainability by 2040.

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