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Groundwater Authority votes to submit grant application

By Patricia Farris News Review Publisher– A Resolution to submit an application for State Grant Water Management Act (SGMA) Round-2 Capital Grant funding was discussed in detail at the Nov. 9, meeting of Indian Wells Valley Ground Water Authority(IWVGA). The Department of Water Resources(DWR) has just recently opened up the application process for this grant, it is due December 16th, 2022. 

The resolution was presented by Carol Keefer, GA general manager. She noted that the funding is open to medium and high-priority basins and critically over-drafted basins, she included that we will not have priority but will still be able to compete for grants. It is a competitive grant,” she said.

“We felt it made sense for us to go ahead and submit an application because there are a lot of activities that we have to do normally that are eligible for funding other than the grant programs.”

“The objectives would be to conduct studies and analysis critical to implementing SGMA requirements including the preparation of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) 5-year update. This will also address the DWR Recommended Actions.”

“I would include the implementation of GSP projects, Data Gap projects, addressing undesirable results, and achieving sustainability. The selection period opened in early October, and the original due date for the applications to be submitted was Nov. 30th, however, it has been extended to Dec. 16.”

She continued, “they are accepting applications for projects that include updates to our GSP as there are a few years remaining to complete the projects.”

“There is no guarantee, this is a competitive process, but the applications can be anywhere from $1Million – $20Million we are putting together a project that is just under $3Million.”

“Today what we are looking for from the board is authorization to put money toward that grant application. We are requesting $25,000 for a consultant to prepare and submit the application, we will also be looking for approval of the project list with authorization to submit the application and approval of the resolution.”

“These are the projects that we are tentatively planning to submit.”

“We have a lot of activities that we would be using our normal revenues to pay for, but if we can get the grant funding to do a model upgrade, the DATAGAP analysis, doing our well and pumper verifications, improving our process evaluation of storage, and money to prepare our annual report and our 5-year update, it would be very helpful to be able to pay for that with grant funds instead of our revenues.”

“These are projects that we plan to apply for including some enhancements to our communications and engagement plan. We would include shallow-well consolidation and the monitoring of well installation.”

“What we are requesting of the board today is the authorization for a general manager and resource manager to finalize and submit the application. We are also looking for authorization for an additional $25,000 expenditure for staff to prepare and submit the application. Then we would be looking for approval of Resolution 09.22 and support from the board.”

Water Resource Manager Steve Johnson said they had been in communication with the Water District on the potential for additional projects the Water District might want to add to the list. Water District Manager Don Zdeba indicated that they would be giving some ideas for District related projects to add to the applications within the next week. “This would be good for the basin and would save money for the ratepayer”. 

Rajtora questioned whether the $50,000 requested for the work on measuring the change to groundwater in storage was adequate.  The GA has been working on this for four years, “It seems like it has been taking up a lot of time, and I suspect a lot of money as well. You might consider upping that just a little bit.” he said and also spoke to the shallow-well system consolidation saying, “The District has been doing that and is involved in two consolidations currently. The state has asked us to look at some additional ones so I would appreciate it that when you actually start doing something, to make sure you keep the Water District in the loop. We want to make sure that we do consolidations in the right way. There are areas we cannot consolidate with, but the state has identified some areas they want us to look at, so keep that in mind.”

The motion for Resolution 09-22 was called for, it passed with a unanimous vote.

Jeff Davis, representing Provost and Pritchard, consulting agency, gave a report on the Pipeline Alignment study, he said all the work for the grant has to be done by April of 2025, and the Alignment Study is only the first stage. He noted, “you certainly have a very daunting task in front of you and ought to be congratulated in undertaking this”. Davis illustrated with a map, the study areas for the pipeline. He showed the California City Feeder, the pipeline owned and operated by the Antelope Valley East Kern Water Agency. That is point A of the three preferred pipeline Alignment Studies. “We previously had eleven different alignments we looked at, and we have narrowed them down to what we believe would be the three preferred studies, the West Alignment, the Central Alignment, and the East Alignment. We have to scale this down to one, and will present a single preferred alignment to the board by Dec. 14th”. 

Rajtora posed the question, “Does your tasking include any estimations of the costs?”

Davis replied, “No quantitative estimating, but we will be looking at qualitatively, we have to move so fast there is really no time to put together detailed cost estimates.”

Johnson said, “One way, or another, we will have costs factored into the selection of the final alignment at some level.”  

A spokesman for Stetson gave a Recycled Water Program update, “we are continuing to refine the treatment program needed, we will meet with the City to discuss design/treatment processes for the City’s new Wastewater Treatment Plant. The goal is to have the study complete by the end of this week.”

There was an update report for the Rose Valley Subflow. The subflow from Rose Valley to the IWV basin co-operative agreement with the Navy and the GA is continuing monitoring well drilling is planned for fall/winter of 2022. 

Jean Moran of Stetson Engineers also reported that the California State Boards Comission (CSBC) approved the lease agreement for data collection and monitoring. 

Keefer gave an update on the 2021 audit, she said that they had promised that it would be on the agenda for this month, “We did not have it prepared, we are still working with the auditor to get it completed, the delay has to do with primarily the fact that 2021 was the first year that we collected the Replenishment Fee and the agency also has litigation that targets the Replenishment Fee. The auditor is just taking additional time to understand the fee and the issues surrounding it. We are having our attorney provide the notes and information so that the audit is completely transparent, we expect to have the audit for you for the December meeting. We want to give you a heads-up that along with the audit for your review, we will be receiving a request from the auditor for his additional fees. The original amount was $12,000, they are requesting an additional $8,000 due to additional time and issues, which will be before you next month.”