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Regulation for wells, groundwater usage

The North Fork Kings GSA Board adopted Rules and Regulations in December 2020 to sustainably manage groundwater within the GSA boundary. These regulations, which will be periodically updated, are necessary to implement solutions that will provide a groundwater supply buffer for landowners to use during drier years. The regulations cover topics such as registration of wells, installation of flowmeters, groundwater usage, fees, and storage of groundwater. You can review these rules on the Board Policies webpage.

Here is a brief overview of each of these:

Individual Recharge

A landowner may use existing facilities to store surface water underground within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary and can then put that water to their own beneficial use within the GSA boundaries. The GSA is currently developing the process for growers to participate in an individual recharge program.

Well Registration

Any new wells constructed after January 31, 2021 must be registered with the North Fork Kings GSA within 30 days of drilling completion. All new wells must also install a flowmeter at the time of construction. Metering wells will allow the North Fork Kings GSA to have reliable, accurate extraction data to more effectively track progress and achieve sustainability goals.

All existing wells owned by landowners who own sixty or more acres within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary need to be registered with the North Fork Kings GSA by July 1, 2022. All other wells must be registered by January 1, 2023.

Criteria for Using Meters

All new extraction wells, excluding de minimis users (a person who extracts 2 acre-feet per year or less of groundwater for domestic purposes) are required to be measured by flowmeters and all costs associated with the purchase, installation, operation and maintenance of flowmeters shall be borne by the owner or operation of each extraction facility. In the future, the North Fork Kings GSA may require flowmeters on all non-de minimis wells.

Groundwater Usage

Currently, the North Fork Kings GSA is utilizing satellite imagery, needs analysis, local precipitation and surface water accounting to determine pumping in the region. This technology along with meter information is necessary to develop an accurate water balance for the region. Technical groups are developing future groundwater allocations which are necessary to balance groundwater supplies.

Fees & Assessments

The North Fork Kings GSA is funded through land-based assessments that are included on County property tax bills. North Fork Kings GSA landowners voted to allow a maximum $10.00 per acre assessment in order to locally manage groundwater. In the future, groundwater pumping fees may be necessary to build recharge ponds to replenish groundwater in rainy years.

If the North Fork Kings GSA is unable to locally fund the implementation of SGMA and achieve groundwater sustainability, the State could step in and impose a fee structure on groundwater pumpers many times more costly than the North Fork Kings GSA. They, the State, will also regulate how much groundwater a landowner can pump.

Board approves $10 per acre assessment

At the May 26 Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA Board approved a maximum assessment of $10 per acre for Fiscal Year 2021-22. The fall county tax rolls will include the assessment. This means if a landowner owns 100 acres, the amount that will be due to the North Fork Kings GSA in Fiscal Year 2022 is $1,000. There are 163,653.7 assessable acres in the North Fork Kings GSA. Based on the assessable acres, this generates $1,636,537 of projected revenue for implementation.

With the adoption of the North Fork Kings GSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan in January 2020, the budget focuses on implementation projects and programs that will achieve groundwater sustainability.

Groundwater Use Survey mailed to landowners will help maximize available groundwater supply

Join North Fork Kings GSA landowners who have already submitted their survey. Submit yours by April 30, 2021.

The North Fork Kings GSA is a conducting a Groundwater Use Survey to better understand land and water use across the service area to maximize available groundwater supply under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). By filling out the survey, landowners have already begun to participate in achieving a sustainable groundwater supply that is strong through cycles of drought.

The survey was mailed to all North Fork Kings GSA landowners, excluding those on a public water system, the first week of April with an April 30th due date. Participants are encouraged to fill out the survey which assesses concerns regarding groundwater supply and SGMA, willingness to share groundwater and well information, and includes a section on land use and irrigation.

Information collected will give landowners a fair and equitable opportunity to use available groundwater supply by giving the North Fork Kings GSA a clearer picture of groundwater demand across the agency.

Landowners have flexibility to return the mailed survey in the provided postage paid return envelope or can download and fill out the digital online survey at www.northforkkings.org/survey. Depending on landowners’ number of APNs, the digital survey offers an easy user experience by auto-populating APN fields based on survey code.

Survey results will be presented in aggregate at the conclusion of the survey, and individual responses will not be associated with personal landowner information. Landowners who submit the survey are entered to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Spanish surveys are available upon request. Contact the North Fork Kings GSA at (559) 242-6118 or survey@northforkkings.org.

New Policies Adopted: Rules & Regulations and Groundwater Banking Policy

After committee review and a 30 day public comment period, the North Fork Kings GSA board adopted the following policies at their December 16 meeting:

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. The document covers groundwater monitoring, groundwater accounting/data management system, fees, and surface water recharge in the underground.

The 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 final versions of both documents are available on HERE.

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.

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