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Stakeholders invited to review and comment on Rules and Regulations, Groundwater Banking Policy drafts

Draft Rules and Regulations and a draft Groundwater Banking Policy are available for public review.

The 30-day public review and comment period for the drafts will conclude December 2, 2020. All comments can be submitted via email to comments@northforkkings.org.

The Rules and Regulations are established by the Board of the North Fork Kings GSA to provide for the sustainable management of groundwater within the North Fork Kings GSA boundaries, and covers groundwater monitoring, groundwater accounting/data management system, fees, and surface water recharge in the underground.

The draft Groundwater Banking Policy outlines parameters for landowner groundwater banking projects within the jurisdiction of the North Fork Kings GSA. The policy’s objectives include improving groundwater conditions, increasing water supplies, assisting in meeting Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) objectives, providing flexibility to landowners, and ensuring no negative impacts to overlying owners.

The North Fork Kings GSA is working to adopt board policies to guide efforts toward sustainability in the years to come. Stakeholders are encouraged to review and provide comments on draft board policies as they become available. Visit the board policy webpage to review the draft Rules and Regulations and draft Groundwater Banking Policy.

Board Reappoints Rural Community Advisory Committee Members

At the September 23 Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA Board reappointed five members to the Rural Community Advisory Committee (RCAC). The purpose of the RCAC is to represent the interests of rural communities. The RCAC members will assist the Board in providing input, information, and recommendations regarding the sustainable management of groundwater in the North Fork Kings GSA area.

The following RCAC members were reappointed to the committee: Jim Petty from the community of Riverdale; Amanda Monaco from Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability; Angel Hernandez from the community of Lanare; Andrew Zonneveld from Zonneveld Dairies; and Isabel Solorio from the community of Lanare.

The committee members serve at the pleasure of the board and shall include, but not be limited to, representatives of domestic well owners, municipal well operators, local land use planning agencies, residents served by a public water system that serves 200 or more connections, residents served by a small community water system, residents served by a public water system that serves fewer than 200 connections, and environmental justice organizations or community benefit organizations with demonstrated experience working with disadvantaged communities and with expertise in drinking water, groundwater, or land use.

In addition to the reappointments, the Board also took action to approve the development of a community outreach flyer to encourage residents in the communities of Laton, Riverdale and Lanare to become more involved in the NFKGSA meetings and activities.

North Fork Kings GSA joins regional agreement to monitor land subsidence

At the July 22nd Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA approved a cost-sharing agreement between Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in both the Kings and Tulare Lake Subbasins for subsidence monitoring. The Kings River Conservation District (KRCD), a regional special district with diverse water resources management roles, proposed the agreement to support the Subbasins’ monitoring efforts under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Because declining groundwater levels can cause surface elevations to lower, subsidence is an indicator of groundwater sustainability under SGMA. Over time subsidence may lead to what SGMA terms an “undesirable result”, for example damage to infrastructure like canals or roadways. Consistent monitoring across the region is key to preventing significant rates of subsidence from causing undesirable results.

The cooperative agreement approved by the North Fork Kings GSA provides funding to increase both the magnitude and frequency of KRCD’s subsidence monitoring program. Established in 2010 with surveys conducted every 2-5 years at 125 monuments, the current monitoring is too infrequent to meet SGMA’s needs for reporting on subsidence conditions and critical data gaps exist in the network. The agreement will allow KRCD to conduct surveys annually and establish an additional 71 network monuments that fill known data gaps.

Subsidence data collected by KRCD over the years was used in the development of the North Fork Kings GSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and has been referenced by GSAs as a source for mandatory SGMA reporting to the State. Cooperating with KRCD and the GSAs is a cost-effective solution to bring robust data to the table for successful groundwater management.

The agreement outlines cost-sharing of 8% between eleven GSAs in the two subbasins, while KRCD will contribute 12% to the overall cost. The cost for 2020 monitoring is estimated in the agreement not to exceed $30,000. The South Fork Kings GSA and Southwest Kings GSA, both located in the Tulare Lake Subbasin, have approved the agreement. The remaining GSAs are currently considering approval.

DWR will fund and install new monitoring well to support groundwater data collection

A new monitoring well will be funded and installed by the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) under their SGMA Technical Support Services program. The well will include four completion depths that allow data collection at varying levels of groundwater depth between clay layers.

A data-driven approach to groundwater management is required under SGMA, and the monitoring well network is a key groundwater data gathering tool. Data gathered from the network is used to establish and track sustainability goals and can help measure impacts of future projects and management actions on groundwater levels.

Expanding the monitoring network to include more wells is a priority to fill existing groundwater data gaps. The addition of a dedicated monitoring well from DWR will help achieve more data collection to fill the gaps, and the North Fork Kings GSA will continue to expand its network to adequately assess sustainability progress within the service area.

Board Approves $10 per acre assessment, adopts budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21

At the June 24th Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA Board approved an assessment of $10 per acre for Fiscal Year 2020-21. Based on the assessable acres, this generates $1,636,537 of projected revenue. The assessment rate is the maximum amount approved by the North Fork Kings GSA landowners in the Proposition 218 assessment election passed in 2018.

The North Fork Kings GSA has also included expected grant revenues of $200,000 in its recently approved Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget for a total expected revenue of approximately $1.8 million.

Items in the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget include administrative staffing, professional engineering and legal services, project development, groundwater monitoring, and reimbursement to member agencies for their start-up contribution to form and administer the North Fork Kings GSA prior to assessment election revenues.

With the adoption of the North Fork Kings GSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in January 2020, this year’s budget focuses on early implementation of the Plan. Engineering services to be carried out by the North Fork Kings GSA’s technical consultant, Provost & Pritchard, include work to fill data gaps and standardize data collection, develop policies and programs, and begin initial work on management actions and projects identified in the GSP. Coordination with GSAs both within and outside of the Kings Subbasin is also included.

Board Appoints Finance and Policy Committees

At the June 24th Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA Board approved creating standing Finance and Policy Committees.

The Finance Committee will meet one to two times per year to ensure the next fiscal year budget is prepared with all items needed for the continuation of Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) implementation. Board members Mark McKean, Frank Zonneveld, and Tony Campos were appointed to the standing committee.

The Policy Committee will meet on a regular basis to ensure the development of board policies for sustainable groundwater management. The Committee will be responsible for identifying the policies that are needed, working with the North Fork Kings GSA’s legal counsel to draft policies for Board consideration. Board members Supervisor Buddy Mendes, Mark McKean, and Stephen Maddox were appointed to the standing committee.

Annual Report Submitted to the State, First of Many on Kings Subbasin Groundwater Conditions

The North Fork Kings GSA together with the six other GSAs in the Kings Subbasin submitted the first Annual Report to the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) on April 1, 2020. A requirement under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the Annual Report serves to inform and update both the State and stakeholders in the Kings Subbasin on groundwater conditions and sustainability progress. Thanks to favorable hydrology for the reporting period, Kings Subbasin groundwater conditions improved overall with storage increasing by 210,000 acre-feet Subbasin wide.

The report indicates groundwater extractions in the North Fork Kings GSA represent an estimated 17% of total 1.06 million acre-feet extractions in the Subbasin. Irrigation Districts and landowners alike in the North Fork Kings GSA took every opportunity to capitalize on available surplus surface water supplies, capturing Kings River water during flood releases to recharge in basins or use on farms, offsetting groundwater use. The Annual Report 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.

The North Fork Kings GSA plans to expand its groundwater recharge capacity at both the landowner and agency level to take advantage of similar wet hydrology in future years. Partnering with landowners to implement on-farm recharge practices, constructing recharge basins, and expanding existing recharge facilities are all strategies outlined to achieve a sustainable groundwater supply. The combined efforts of the North Fork Kings GSA and six other cooperating Kings Subbasin GSAs will ultimately lead the region to long-term sustainability.

The data for the report was collected from the seven GSAs’ monitoring networks, groundwater extractions, surface water supply, total water use, and changes in groundwater storage. 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.

Considering this first report was prepared just months after the submission of the Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs), the data does not stray from data already included in the seven Kings Subbasin GSAs’ GSPs. Although the Subbasin used the opportunity to include any additional data collected through the reporting period and established a template for future reports.

The North Fork Kings GSA adopted its GSP on December 18, 2019, marking the transition from the planning to implementation phase. Following the adoption of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 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.

After Two Years, Groundwater Plan Adopted, Implementation Begins 2020

Left to Right: Supervisor Mendes, Fresno County; Frank Zonneveld, Laguna Irrigation District; Danielle Roberts, Lanare CSD;
Mark McKean, Crescent Canal Co.; Stephen Maddox, Liberty Mill Race Co.; Leonard Acquistapace, Riverdale Irrigation District

Riverdale, CA – The North Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (NFKGSA) Board unanimously adopted their Groundwater Sustainability Plan at the December 18 meeting. NFKGSA’s Board is proposing a phased approach over 20 years to mitigate the target overdraft of 59,000 acre feet per year, NFKGSA’s allocation of the Kings Subbasin total annual overdraft of 122,000 acre feet. Board Chair Mark McKean thanked the plan developer Provost & Pritchard, staff and the Board for all of their work over the last two years. “This Plan is a living document,” stated McKean. “We realize it isn’t a perfect document but a building block and in five years we will have a better Plan than we have today by working together.”

The NFKGSA will use the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) as a roadmap to balance its groundwater.  The GSP includes potential policies and projects that will impact groundwater management in the region for years to come as the North Fork Kings GSA works to achieve sustainable groundwater supply. Technical consultant Provost & Pritchard worked over the last two years collecting data that documents historic and current groundwater conditions; the GSP uses this information as the foundation to define a path forward for how groundwater will be managed. The overdraft can be balanced using both supply-side and demand-side solutions. The toolkit of projects and management actions will include both, but the NFKGSA Board plans to prioritize supply-side solutions including floodwater capture for groundwater recharge.

NFKGSA is the one of seven groundwater sustainability agencies that will coordinate to achieve sustainability in the King Subbasin, a critically overdrafted groundwater basin that lies within Fresno County. Once all seven groundwater sustainability agencies adopt their plans, they will be submitted together with a coordination agreement to the State prior to the deadline of January 31, 2020. 

Stakeholders can review a full draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan, now available for download

At the July 17th Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA Board approved opening the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 90-day public review and comment period. Members of the public are encouraged to download the GSP on the website at northforkkings.org/gspcomment and provide comment for the agency’s consideration.

The GSP includes potential policies and projects that will impact groundwater management in the region for years to come as the North Fork Kings GSA works to achieve sustainable groundwater supply. Technical consultants worked over the last two years collecting data that documents historic and current groundwater conditions; the GSP uses this information as the foundation to define a path forward for how groundwater will be managed.

The North Fork Kings GSA will use the GSP as a roadmap to balance its estimated 59,000 acre-feet of annual groundwater overdraft by 2040. The overdraft can be balanced using both supply-side and demand-side solutions. The toolkit of projects and management actions will include both, but the North Fork Kings GSA Board plans to prioritize supply-side solutions including floodwater capture for groundwater recharge.

Members of the public are encouraged to take part in the important process of defining the path forward toward groundwater sustainability. The public comment period will conclude at the end of the day on October 21st.

The North Fork Kings GSA is hosting workshops in August to review what is in the GSP and how it impacts those with a stake in groundwater management. View the GSP calendar for workshop details: GSP Calendar.


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

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

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.

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