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Author: Rebecca Quist

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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