The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board made quick work of approving the agencies proposed extraction fee of $9.08 per acre foot during its meeting on Friday.

A public hearing was held on the matter at Friday's meeting but no comments directly related to the fee were presented during the brief hearing. The board then approved the fee. The fee will be charged during the 2021-2022 fiscal year through June 30, 2022.

Property owners within the ETGSA's territory which essentially includes Southeastern Tulare County who pump groundwater will be subject to the fee. Those who have less than two acres of property will be exempt from the fee.

A representative with the Community Water Center based in Visalia brought up one issue during the public hearing when it came to providing help for those with shallow wells that face contamination issues. It's been suggested the agency also waive the fee for those well owners or at least provide some mitigation in reducing the fee. It was also reported the issues these well owners face could become worse over time.

The issue of well mitigation was on the agenda and was discussed later during Friday's meeting. ETGSA staff recommended the matter still needs to be review because it's impacted by the state still reviewing Ground Sustainability Plans from ground sustainability agencies such as ETGSA and the drought.

The board directed ETGSA staff to continue to work with the Community Water Center as far as what well mitigation can be provided.

The ETGSA and the Friant Water Authority have reached a settlement in which the ETGSA has agreed to pay FWA at least $125 million for repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal as compensation for the overpumping of groundwater that has done damage to the canal.

FWA has approved a funding arrangement for repairs of a 33-mile stretch of the canal from between Lindsay and Strathmore to north Kern County. There has been $206 million in federal funds approved to help fund the project. A contractor for the project was scheduled to be selected this summer.

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