On Thursday afternoon, the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s (ETGSA) Authority Board of Directors hosted a meeting over Zoom, and as part of the agenda the ETGSA approved a contribution to Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley (WBSJV) to identify water supplies in the amount of $22,000.

WBSJV has been working to identify the water supplies that might be available to achieve water sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley, including the Tule Subbasin. The ETGSA represents irrigation districts and farmers in southern Tulare County and is part of the Tule Subbasin. The Tule Subbasin collectively is host to six different Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, all of which WBSJV is asking to contribute funding based on the additional water needed per acre foot a year in the area of each GSA. The other GSA’s in the Tule Subbasin include Alpaugh, DEID, Lower Tule River Irrigation District, Pixley Irrigation District and TriCounty.

The Tule Subbasin as a whole is in need of an additional 258,750 acre feet of water a year. The ETGSA was identified to need the largest amount of additional water, roughly 110,000 acre feet a year. Because of the amount of water needed in the ETGSA portion of the Tule Subbasin, WBSJV asked the ETGSA Board of Directors to contribute $22,000 to the project.

The ETGSA Finance Committee, which met just an hour before the Board of Directors, reviewed the contribution amount and recommended the Board of Directors approve it.

Scott Hamilton, a representative for WBSJV, explained the funds would be used to help identify new sources of water and how to get that water into the Tule Subbasin, and how to put the additional water to beneficial use. 

Hamilton said for the eastern part of the Tule Subbasin, the best option would be to expand the Friant Kern Canal, and move water from the canal east into the ETGSA. Moving water from the canal will help water quality and will reduce costs by obtaining water from the canal, rather than extracting it from the ground and then moving it into parts of the Tule Subbasin.

Hamilton said most of the contributed funds will go toward the second phase of work in which options are analyzed and cost estimates for the expansion are contained. Once the second phase is complete, WBSJV will be looking at how to expand the canal and exactly where to expand it, before figuring out how to get water to the ETGSA.

In total, from the Tule Subbasin as a whole, WBSJV is requesting a contribution of $150,000.

When it came time to discuss the matter, the members of the ETGSA Board of Directors agreed they don’t want to miss this opportunity to be involved. Board members Eric Borba and John Corkins both agreed the contribution request of $22,000 was a fair amount, and agreed the ETGSA will be a good partner for this project.

Corkins asked Hamilton how WBSJV would like the payments, to which Hamilton replied the sum would be broken up into two payments, with a chunk of the payment coming early next month and the rest of the payment to be collected later down the road.

Chairman Borba moved for approval of the $22,000 contribution from the ETGSA, and stated the agency needs to approach area growers to see how they want to be involved in the future.

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