Merced County Board of Supervisors in their own words: Water Update, October 21, 2014

Submitted: Dec 06, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Once again and despite the severe drought, our supervisors are out of their depth. They have responded to the groundwater crisis like a concussed, four-man defensive line.

Reference: AB 1739: Groundwater Management, Dickinson, Chaptered Sept. 16, 2014. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=2013... -- blj

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Present: Chairman Gerry O'Banion, supervisors Hub Walsh, Lynn Davis and John Pedrozo. Absent: Supervisor Deidre Kelsey.

 

Supervisor Hub Walsh: Mr. Chair, I'll start with uh, my colleague, today we're presenting some kinda information regarding the discussion that we've had with regards to groundwater. It's not an action item although there's a urgency ordinance, a draft ordinance, for your cons-- uh review. Frankly at this point it is an urgency ordinance. And it's just, today we're just having a presentation today so that you'll get a sense of the information we've had in the past and the discussions we've had uh and how we've gotten to where we are today uh and to afford the community and others the opportunity to ask questions and yourselves ask questions about the process.

Supervisor John Pedrozo: Thank you, Mr. Walsh. As you see and we have over the last couple of months -- two or three months at least -- been working with different water agencies, but uh, as we are all aware, we are iu a significant water crisis. In this regard there has been clear direction from our federal and state partners to declare and national, national, natural resource disaster area as well as a state of emergency. The board of supervisors has taken the necessary steps to adopt a draft proclamation which aims to highlight the challenges being felt by our community. This prompted the county to move forward with a dedicated effort to protect our groundwater.

So. what we've done and uh, and uh, and uh, and reported back for like I said I believe at least the last three months uh what we have done and I believe Supervisor Walsh and I are the representatives of the board on this water committee. We've met with numerous members of the community, whether it's uh members of the farm bureau and uh, now it's come to where we're hiring water experts to come in and help the county on this ordinance. Mr. Walsh.

Supervisor Walsh: Yeah, in the process of this discussions I've appreciated the board's engagement and we've met with other counties and we've talked with a lot--with our irrigation districts. and uh, uh, districts, and we've talked with uh spent a lot of time in discussions with the farming community as well as state agencies about it and over the process have kinda come up with a two pronged approach uh, an interim approach which is more a stopgap, more a measure right now, uh, the ordinance, to deal with and manage our current groundwater utilization and experience and then the longer term process which ah groundwater management sustainability legislation and uh candidly I would say our two elected officials who were here before, Assemblyman -- Assemblyperson Gray and Senator Cannella, were both played an active role in those discussions at the time as legislation was going through and for us and for throughout if you'll see is that we need to state it often, state it regularly plan for it in terms of dealing with groundwater is the connection with surface water. Uh, those are clearly interconnected reductions of one in terms of surface water, via drought or redirection of the water clearly requires us to start in our communities to rely more heavily on groundwater. So, the two are connected and have been connected throughout the discussion and although this ordinance will deal with groundwater they are not uh unrelated in the process as we move forward.

Chairman Gerry O'Banion: Before we go any further, I'm going to ask for some clarification and Mr. Brown is going to give it.

County CEO James Brown: Just to elaborate a little bit as far as the supervisors say we have entertained and elicited the involvement of experts and we have Sarge Green from the California Water Institute that is with Fresno State University that is helping us through this process to facilitate who has also been involved with neighboring counties' processes. We also have, from a counsel perspective, Tony Rossman and Roger Moore from Rossman and Moore here to be able to respond to any questions that we may be as we go through this process. Also, just to elaborate, this is a kind of draft at this time with your committee working with the stakeholder group and there has been some fluctuations back and forth. Part of that process has been the method or mechanics which includes the process as far as how this ordinance if the board so desires would come before you. At this point the current form the draft is in is not an emergency ordinance, so I want to make that clear for the public. It is not an emergency ordinance at this point. We're still looking at whether this would be through a regular process or an emergency process. But at this point if you want to make it clear for the public it is not in an urgency format. And that's still being reviewed with counsel at this point in time. Now we will turn it over to Sarge Green with the California Water Institute to pick up and continue on through the presentation.

Sarge Green: Members of the Board, I am Sarge Green with the California Water Institute at Fresno State. The address is 6014 N. Cedar in Fresno. I'm putting in the presentation for the record. Well, we've got three core issues that we believe are the fundamental part of groundwater in Merced County and need to be brought forth in terms of the evidence needed in order to understand groundwater as well as to potentially regulate it. County subsidence, decreased depths to water levels, and the potential of poor water quality moving from one area and then impacting the value and utility of another area of groundwater.

Next slide. This is a real busy slide and its difficult and I am going to try to simplify it as best as I possibly can. There's a lot of information here, but the most important thing is that line on the outside that identifies a very important geological formation known as the Corcoran Clay, The Corcoran Clay is the middle of a layer cake between the groundwater basin known as the San Joaquin Valley. (Huh?) It is particularly important in Merced County because it divides the upper water from the lower water and also it covers almost all of the county. That's different from other areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Other areas of the San Joaquin Valley have some room on the east side for the river systems to spread out and sink water into the ground. When the rivers that contribute to groundwater in Merced County deliver their water, they deliver it to areas that are either above the clay or below the clay but mostly above the Corcoran Clay layer. The other part is that it is very shallow to the Corcoran Clay in Merced County. In many areas it is only 100 feet. That makes it difficult in terms of being able to recharge the groundwater and it gives it a sensitivity that requires a special consideration.

Next slide. This is one of the other pieces of evidence that gives import to the notion that the Corcoran Clay is important in Merced County. When wells are drilled underneath the Corcoran Clay in certain portions of the county and more water is extracted than the formation can yield at one particular time it starts to literally empty out that area and reduces the pressure underneath. The pressure helps hold up the Corcoran Clay and what we have here is two representative years when well when well development in the southern part of the county below the Corcoran Clay has resulted in the evacuation underneath and the weight of all the material including the water up above causes some of the clay and the formations that are up above there to literally collapse. It makes metaphorical bricks out of some of the formations and solid material. When that happens it results in a depression that goes all the way to the land surface. The impact of that is, things like now we have both the infrastructure out on the west side and the central part of the county, we have the water delivery facilities, roads, we have flood facilities that are trying to transport water in very wet years from the San Joaquin River system out to the Delta -- now all of these facilities have been compromised by the fact that the ground has sunk so much. In the first part of this slide this is in the first year that we really noticed a lot has been reported by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Geological Survey...you can see the colors; the red is how much it dropped and it is half of a foot in the darkest colors. What happened in the next year, between July 2013 and December 2013? That area has expanded dramatically. Now, not only do you have the problem of the infrastructure, you also have the wells themselves because the wells, all of a sudden, have extracted so much water that it creates the potential for a change in direction of flow. And that is where we get into the issue of water quality.

Water quality, from a poorer area, which we have in some cases, salt was left behind in ancient marine sediments from the Coast Range -- the coast has a lot of salt in it, it used to be part of the ocean -- that salty water is underneath. When you extract too much water and cause subsidence it changes the slope and that poor quality water can move in and displace good quality water. And this has a tremendous impact on water quality and it impacts not only drinking water supplies but then potentially agricultural water supplies. Not all crops are that salt tolerant, so you have to be very careful what you plant.

Next slide. This is some of the examples of where subsidence has manifested itself and impacted infrastructure. This is a canal and the concrete between the road edges, these areas have been built up so that the water will not flow over the top and flood the road. This is a case where the canal lining has cracked and the soil has sunk around the edge of the canal. This is an abandoned gas well where the ground had been irrigated. These are newly irrigated grape vines and when they over-extracted from below the Corcoran Clay the land sunk that much in a matter of years. This is a well itself and you can see now that the cement block that held up the equipment and you can now see the casing underneath.

Similar to this slide, this is another view of a wall built around a canal to protect from flooding.

Next slide. OK. The other think that has happened in addition to subsidence and the potential change in water quality is overall California is in a very serious drought, declared in your county and as a result a lot of people have gone to groundwater to replace surface water that has not been available in this period. And the Department of Water Resources has mapped the changes in terms of the groundwater levels and how deep the water table is before you find liquid water and they mapped it from 2004 in the spring to 2014 and the red areas are where it has dropped dramatically in many cases more than 10 feet and in some cases greater than 40 or 50 feet.

Groundwater is very interesting. It is the dark science in water. You can see your surface water. But it's very complex underground and you can't see it. So, we know that it occurs and we drill and we get it but when you have to get into the details and know exactly what's going on in a specific area, so you see it's uneven - some areas have been impacted perhaps more than others. I have also worked in Kern County and you can see Kern County, for example, has had a tremendous extraction of their groundwater.

Next slide. This is a representation of a water-quality change that I mentioned. This is an area that I mentioned on the west side where we have saltier water -- not everywhere, groundwater as I've said, is very interesting in its differences from one location to another -- and these areas have very high total dissolved salt levels. So that is in a, I forget the year, but that is in a 5-year distribution of the salts in groundwater.

OK, next slide. This is an electrical conductivity, another measure, you can calculate the total dissolved salts by using just a simple test called "electrical conductivity" -- basically a probe that can measure the way water conducts electricity. So, we've had high quality water on the east side because it's from the Sierras as opposed to saltier water than comes from the Coast Range. You can see that there is a migration of the poorer quality water and you can see that even some areas on the east side, even though the recharge water is the high quality Sierra water, some areas have some water-quality problems.

Ron, did you want to take the rest?

Ron Rowe -- Good morning, Chairman O'Banion and members of the Board, my name is Ron Rowe and I am director of the Merced County Division of Environmental Health.

This next slide is a depiction of nitrate concentrations -- this was -- the previous two slides and this one, a total of three, were from a 2012 study from our integrated water management planning work that looked at base-line groundwater and this slide simply shows nitrate concentrations in the Merced County area and much as Sarge has mentioned previously what is known about groundwater quality today is likely to change with pumping influences and changes in flow direction as our groundwater levels either rise or fall.

Green: The Health Department has been particularly involved in the nitrate issue, especially related to both irrigated agriculture and dairies and other sources of nitrogen materials.

So, what we are also dealing with at this particular time is new legislation that has been adopted by the state. And it is going to change the landscape in groundwater tremendously. It will literally require registering every well potentially with fees and measurement of all wells.

I'd like to just summarize quickly. Both surface water and groundwater are under Common Law. We have riparian water and appropriative water under surface water and a very similar thing with groundwater called a correlative right. What people misunderstand many times is that it is not a right of ownership. It is a right of use. And it is a use of your fair share. And that's what is particularly important in terms of the new legislation. It's an attempt to determine equity in the use of groundwater in the future. It allows the formation of agencies to implement the new law. One of them is called the Groundwater Sustainability Agency. That will be the overlying organization that will try to implement the law. And there also has to be a groundwater sustainability plan in place by a date certain. And what that does is what I just mentioned about finding equity, that is what is each person's fair share of the groundwater.

State intervention is the muscle behind this potential implementation. If you do not do a good job locally then the state has in the law created the capacity to pass it along to state agencies. So it is very important for the county and its water agencies to develop a process that encompasses the goals of this. And one of the first steps is the ordinance under consideration.

Next slide. This is that time line. This is another very busy slide. It emphasizes how much has to be done in order to get a groundwater plan in place. And it goes up pretty far in terms of the overall time line. But there are some key mile posts and that is related to both the groundwater management plan and the groundwater sustainability agency.

Also, a declaration of who's going to be involved. And that's one of the first things that will come up and that's people have to pretty much identify themselves pretty early on and be willing to take this task on. Whether they drive it to completion is I think another matter. And that's why I think it is a good idea for the County to keep an eye on things should they falter. And the other idea is that somebody needs to be the backstop and in fact the legislation authorizes you to be one of the backup agencies to deal with groundwater matters in the future before it goes to the state.

Next slide. Ordinance overview.

Supervisor Walsh: Sorry about that, I'm taking notes. Ah, the purpose, as we mentioned, was one of the short steps, a local ordinance, and uh, the purpose of the ordinance really is to manage AH the movement of groundwater outside the groundwater basin. Much of the discussion has been about managing that precious resource of groundwater. Yes, the other issue is the ordinance is focused on the unincorporated areas of Merced County, not the incorporated cities. The hope is to minimize overdraft and manage the groundwater, I mean it really is our groundwater basins five of them -- five of them in Merced County? Five of them? -- overuse as ah ah ah as savings accounts ah and when we have surface water and plenty of surface water we draw less on our groundwater basins when we have less surface water ah, we draw more heavily on it in the unincorporated areas.

I think all the municipal - cities -- are frankly on groundwater. I don't think there are any municipalities that are using surface water. (Back when Lawyer Robbins spoke for  Merced Irrigation District, however, he offered surface water to UC Merced, not yet quite a done deal -- "a drop in the bucket" he opined for the local press at the time. -- blj)

Here Chairman O'Banion of the West Side interrupts inaudibly. This is O'Banion, good friend of former Chairman of the Merced County Planning Commission, Steve Sloan, who recently sold a great quantity of groundwater off his ranch to a Stanislaus County water agency for beaucoup millions. The Shame. The Shame!!!! It's possible Sloan, after decades of championing the rights of landowners to do whatever, brought the state down on landowners, agribusiness and developers, all with one big score. --blj

Walsh: Excuse me. All but one. Should have had Supervisor O'Banion doing this portion of the ... ah ... so we're attempting to really create a process by which even through this ordinance by which we develop data and information so as to develop long-term sustainability plans. Call it what you want, measurements, measuring processes, measuring what we're pumping, it's going to be really critical for us to know that information so as frankly to make good decisions, especially when we look to the longer term.

Ah, the kind of prohibitions. Frankly, it ah the ordinance proposes to ah prohibit the extraction groundwater mining and over-appropriation which really means you're taking more out of the ground than the surface that the other than the plot of ground entails and you're exporting it. The prohibition also the ordinance also has exemptions ah the exemptions propose districts ah if irrigation districts have so as not to preclude their current water distribution system and if they have a current active 3030 plan ah in terms of ah they're exempted from the kind of the constraints of the ordinance.

Transcriber break: The reason we attempt to record the thoughts of our supervisors word-for-word is that, having already listened to this meeting once, we were unable to determine what was said or meant, therefore we decided the only prudent policy was to transcribe it literally; all punctuation is editorial long-shot. We're not sure that plan is making much more sense but we forge fiercely forward. -- blj

It also goes through and exempts some of those pee--if somebody happens to own property which overlapped uh uh county boundary and they were adjoining it exempts those kind of processes. Many exemptions were created in the process so as to reflect ah the current management of water that goes on. (Like the Sloan deal and every other irrigation-district water transfer "that goes on?"--blj)

But it also establishes a permit process a more formalized process and this ordinance is a work in process and candidly the permit process development is one of those ones we are still working on in terms of development. ahm, pause, cough, we imagine a hook emerging from the west side of the supervisors' chambers and snatching Supervisor Walsh off the set.-- blj

Green: The next slide talks about what Supervisor Walsh just mentioned that we have sub-basins and I tried to describe earlier that we have differences even though we are in one big bathtub of water in the San Joaquin Valley every area is reflected mainly by the river system that overlies the groundwater. So we have these sub-basins and to some degree they are named after the rivers but in others it is a much larger area and we may not have one main river. Turlock is a sub-basin that extends from southern Stanislaus County down into Merced County. The Merced is a pretty large sub-basin here in the county. The Chowchilla is on the southern boundary of the county, crosses from Madera County. And the Delta-Mendota is a very large area on the western part of the county that goes from Tracy all the way down to Fresno County.

Mining is extraction of the water in an amount excess or excessive of the replenishment.

Over-appropriation is export. The supervisor already mentioned that.

So those definitions are critical in terms of the ongoing program. Next slide.

There's a picture of the sub-basins involved in the proposed activity. The Merced is in the center; and the Delta-Mendota is a little bit difficult to see, and then the Turlock to the north and the Chowchilla is the smallest one in the south. Next slide.

All right. The exemptions once again. The public water agencies that have already adopted plans and propose to adopt new and improved plans in compliance with the new law will be one of the major exemptions. That will probably cover a fairly extensive area when and if they are successful in doing so. So that is a fairly clear exemption.

Replacement wells that do not further impact groundwater levels and subsidence ... recognize that if somebody has already been using water and applying it to their overlying land and are just replacing a well then that will be a specific exemption.

Wells delivering two acre-feet of groundwater or less per year. That is in the new law. That is a reflection of one of the statewide exemptions. So, small properties that have their own well and they will be able to continue it as long as they don't use more than that amount of water. That number comes from the notion that most families of five use about an acre-foot of water a year and the rest is left for whether its a garden or some aspect of the property that you want to irrigate.

And, another exemption is if you get a permit from the County. So that is an exemption from the prohibition if you get that permit.

Groundwater use to replace surface water as required by federal or state law or regulation. I think you all know that surface water is becoming a much more competitive commodity these days including other beneficial uses such as the environment and when new regulatory orders come down from either the state agencies that manage water or for some other reason that you have to give up surface water you may not be able to use it at the times you want or have to deal with something like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in operating a power plant. Well, if you lose that surface water you get an exemption and you are able to pump groundwater to replace it. Fairly difficult issue but comprehensive enough I believe to give people the opportunity to replace that water.

Public water agency conservation efforts.  There is already in law that if you conserve water by making the proper investments in something like irrigations that are more efficient and in canals and/or in improvements to delivery systems that free up water that ordinarily you would not have been able to use beneficially, that conserved water is then also exempt from the prohibition and the potential rules.

Recharge the groundwater. People operate in some areas they intentionally put water into the ground and are allowed to extract it back out in fact it moves all over the place but the exemption will be limited by the amount of water that you put in you got most of it in there. Some people ask for a little be left behind but the water that you can extract out is exempt from the ordinance.

The remediation of contaminated groundwater. There are some circumstances when some entities have to do a cleanup for example they have ah already had something that got away from them and got into the groundwater and they are under a permit or an order from the state or federal government. They have to pump and treat that groundwater and they don't have a convenient place to put it and it somehow enters an area where it can get out of the county that particular activity will be exempt also. It's through no fault of their own. Ah, well, it may have been originally but now they're paying for it.

Appropriation for agricultural purposes under one common ownership. This is the one the supervisor mentioned that if you have property that crosses a sub-basin area or goes into another area outside of Merced and if it's property right next to each other, that's exempt. It may have one well on one part of the property and the other parcel is in another sub-basin and the well sends the water over to the other side ..

And, approved federal, state and county public works projects. It's common throughout the valley and other parts of the state that where there's activities of construction going on and they need water for soil compaction or dust control or other methods to manage the project and they wish to make an arrangement with a local farmer or other ,, for that manner a municipality or other entity in order to be able to extract water and move it around in a water truck and if it leaves the area it gets an exemption because it's a common practice and is not necessarily injurious to the groundwater. Next slide.

County CEO Brown: One of the things that has jumped out at us from the stakeholders and even from you is how is the county going to implement this ordinance. We acknowledge that it is very difficult to draft a groundwater ordinance and in a definitive way. Groundwater is complicated and in the playing field is changing with new legislation and the environment. Over the next few slides we will attempt to walk through some of the initial thoughts how staff might move forward with this. We would like you to notice that there are a few areas where it would be helpful to everybody involved in this process to receive forward input so that the stakeholders and staff can better understand the intentions.

From the department responsibility as was acknowledged at the beginning there's two components to this: there's the extraction mining and then there's the export over-appropriation. At this point we're still working through this process but the landscape is changing and this is because this is a long-term issue and where things are going we see this as we gotta we need to improve the education and coordination internally in the County team to move this forward. So at this point we are currently kinda tentatively looking into public health/environmental health to deal with these extraction/mining issues. They currently manage the well-permit process. That would keep it with them.

The other part of this entails the export, the movement of water. And at this point we're tentatively looking at the planning division of the Community and Economic Development to kinda oversee that process.

Now the question again, why two different agencies? There's been significant conversation throughout this process and I understand. We are open and willing ta and look at that, but we do think that this eventually becomes a land-use issue and eventually your board is going to have to wrestle with land-use decisions related to these water issues. We want to get Planning involved early in this process. Hopefully we're not overly optimistic. We don't think on the export side there'll be a lot of permits, but you never know.

Uh, and in addition if you jump to the last piece we will have to look at and determine if there are CEQA piece. And Planning is better to deal with the CEQA piece. And so, throughout this, both departments are going to be coordinating with each other. There are two defined responsibilities but we are still evaluating this. The one thing we want to point out to the public and everybody is that when you come in for a the permit we would be looking to the applicant to be responsible and carry the burden for documenting the exemption or the permit. It would not be on County staff at this point to say to go through an analysis. It would be the burden of the applicant to determine the analysis and document you know the reasons for the permits.

Throughout this process as has been mentioned earlier there are a few primary areas of concern. This slide summarizes the areas that staff will be focused on during most of the permit process -- not to say that there will be questions and that review will be done on all permits, however there will be a higher level of attention from staff to obtain these data and information.

And these three areas really correspond to what was outlined you know earlier in the presentation.

Subsidence. You know, when well permits come in and they're looking to go below the Corcoran Clay, that's an area that has been a concern of everybody in the process. Once that well goes below the Corcoran Clay, the damage is done, that's permanent damage, that's not restorable.

The Overdraft. Really the issue that seems to concern most everybody is you know the the the reducing groundwater level. Well, there is some particular area of the county where there is significant concern among your group and staff and that's along the eastern ridge of the county. Ah, that's essentially where it was acknowledged earlier most of the county's recharge comes down from the mountain areas and comes underneath the ground. Well, with the land conversion that has been taking place along the eastern ridge of the county that recharge is not able to take place because the wells have taken the water from the eastern ridge and it's not able to flow across to the west.

And the the "White Space." What does "White Space" mean? We have a significant area across the county where's represented or managed by districts. But there are areas across the county that are not managed, are not represented by districts and currently there's little data available, no monitoring taking place and those are the areas where our mmmbb.

So these are the three areas where staff would probably be focusing on you know primarily throughout this process if the board was to consider ah ah implementing something.

Here's a map kind of outlining those three areas. you can see to the right, the upper right, the blue circle. That's the eastern ridge of the county where the water comes down and now with all the conversion that's taking place minimizing the recharge that can take place.

The subsidence primarily in that center part ah, southwest part of the county, is the red circle.

And the white areas you can see are the areas where they are not currently under a district boundary so they're not currently being managed, oversight, some type of process to measure groundwater. Those white areas are the primary areas, the areas under the new legislation that actually makes the county responsible for those areas.

Many probably don't realize but currently the county's existing process only asks questions surrounding the construction of wells. We currently do not ask nor require information regarding groundwater capacity or the impacts of a well. We only ask questions to insure that the well is constructed properly and safely.

If the board was to implement this ordinance, all wells would still be required to go through a permit process, however there would be a shift or a change in the information requested and level of review during that permit process. Whether it is a new well, a replacement well or a well modification, staff would be interested in the following types of information:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->What's the reason for the well?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->What is its intended use?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->What is the historical use?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->Is it to intensify the use of the land such as crop conversion?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->What's the anticipated volume or capacity?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->How deep with the well go?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->Will it be going beneath the Corcoran Clay?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->What is the historical extraction and capacity?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->(something that has been alluded to) What is the fair share of the impact on surrounding parcels?

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·       <!--[endif]-->How has the land been historically serviced? Is it been from surface water or groundwater?

As we have acknowledged there is room for some interpretation in this ordinance and staff wants to insure than any implementation properly follows the board's intentions. Here are the primary areas where staff is seeking input or guidance from the board from an implementation standpoint. There has been some discussion with the stakeholder group on these areas and I'm sure there will be more. It would be good at this point to get some initial thought from the board to take back to the stakeholders for discussion. When you look at these four areas, they kind of summarize looking forward to the intentions of how staff would manage this permit process.

Key question: Is there going to be when the well permit comes in whether it's a new well or a replacement well is there an intensifying intended use of the land? Or is it converting from pasture/graze land to permanent crop? Is the intended use of the well to replace surface water? You could have a couple of different situations. One example could be you have a traditional family that's farmed the land for a hundred years and they've not changed their use of farming and yet they've traditionally been serviced by surface water. However, we all know what's happening to the allocations of surface water at this point in time. The landowner needs a backup or there's no allocation they need to be sure their crop survives so they come in for a well permit. That's one area.

The other area is that it is a replacement but they are going to intensify the use of the land so there is also a conversion taking place.

Wells lowered beneath the Corcoran Clay. You've heard about the subsidence issue that the Corcoran Clay is really a key factor there. How do we staff treat wells that want to go beneath the Corcoran Clay? Do we end up asking a full analysis of the applicant or what the impact is from an environmental standpoint of Corcoran Clay and subsidence?

And the replacement wells. Again, that kind of piece I think I have acknowledged on already is not so much where because there is an exemption for replacement wells if they're going to do business as usual but what happens when where they want to intensify the use of that land and they are asking to increase a significant amount of volume capacity from the well?

Next steps. From the ordinance standpoint as we've previously mentioned the key interest has been how this is going to be implemented. Your water committee is attempting to listen and to respond to the concerns while maintaining a balance with the original direction. There are some areas that appear to require a little more discussion. Another stakeholder meeting has been set in a couple of weeks to share the comments from this meeting as well as to provide what I'll call more meat on the bone regarding the permit process. Gee whiz! What a useful metaphor!-- blj We hope at that meeting to be able to develop some draft FAQs, frequently asked questions, and some guidelines for discussion at that meeting. We also anticipate there will be comments today as well as I have already been informed there will be additional written comments coming in the next week related to this.

There has been discussion internally as well as with the stakeholder group on terminology. The draft currently uses the definitions of mining and over-appropriation. Over-appropriation is a terminology that is newer to the scene and is actually somewhat difficult to explain. So staff and legal counsel are still reviewing whether it would be better to stay with those terms or go back to "export" or "unsustainable extraction" which is included in the new legislation.

There are different thoughts on the appeals process. Some counties use a separate group of experts from the county. You do this in some areas such as your housing board or your assessment appeals board. Some use the board of supervisors. You could even use the planning commission. However, decisions by the planning commission ultimately come to you. So we would suggest that whatever group is used it needs to be efficient and quick so a final decision can be made on the permit.

As far as resources, staff needs expert assistance if the board does move forward with the groundwater ordinance. At this point we would recommend that we enter into a contract with an outside hydro geologist to actually help us provide input on the permit process. Then if the board moves forward a longer term contract going forward with reviewing and analyzing certain permit applications.

You have heard that recent legislation which deals with the long-term picture includes one of many government entities: GSA's (groundwater-sustainability agencies). It is uncertain with the longer term structure whether staff would still be involved in the permit process once those are put into place. So therefore at this point we don't want to overreact from a staff standpoint. We will take it slow with recommendations on staffing regarding issuing permits. However, we do wish you to understand: there is not sufficient staffing to be proactive from a compliance standpoint. You can't make this up.--blj

I would even question the resources available in a reactionary mode if all of a sudden we're out investigating a lot of complaints.

If an ordinance is adopted staff would eventually need to develop and get back to you with an appropriate fee structure.

So these are some additional next steps that we see we still need to work through. Many of them can be done quickly, some of them are a little longer, some of them, some of them don't pertain to actually having to have be done by the time the ordinance is adopted in the time fruge you want. Some of them are questions that have been raised by your stakeholders groups.

Supervisor Walsh: Uh, clearly, uh, the circumstances have changed ahh recently I mean recently over time you've had drought, we've had state and federal redirection of water, and now we have recent legislation. And so the current approach or mmmmm isn't going to be effective in terms of moving forward. We're going to have a new approach. So we have kind of a long-term discussion, clearly we're in the process of refining and redefining the ordinance, uh, it's a work in progress. We want to figure out of process by which we collect and aggregate data information basically this is an issue of measurement -- do we do it at well permitting? do we do it at -- those are the kinds of discussions because this is a precious resource and we really absolutely have to have better measurement device--uh--information. Some of the districts have some of this information so it's really talking about how do we collect it and aggregate it so as to assist us all in making better management decisions.

We're going to have to be establishing groundwater sustainability agencies.  And is that a countywide agency with subgroups? Is it basin-specific? Do districts decide, water districts decide if they want to go on their own without participation with others? I mean I think that's part of the discussion that we're going to have to engage.

On the east side we've had an ongoing group called Irwimp and so is that a, is there a son and daughter to that process that moves on the east side? Don't know. I mean I think that's part of the discussion that we've been having. Ahhh, out of those, those agencies are going to have to develop groundwater management plans by 2020. And so, although -- people say that's a long way out there, it will be on us in a hurry. And so we really need to move forward and there really is a sense of urgency about this.

Ahh, we also have to consistently be advocating for surface water allocations and I will uh -- in the legislation that's just passed there was apparently a controversial discussion about whether the beneficial use of surface water is groundwater recharge. Well, it seems kinda common sense to me but my experience has been sometimes I may have misinterpreted that but at some point we are going to need to be talking about advocacy at the community level in terms of surface water allocations because the direct relationship to our groundwater-management plans between cities, counties and others.

Uh so that's we're kinda there I would end by saying kinda a quick special note of thanks thanks to the stakeholders who have invest you know Farm Bureau, water districts both from the east side and the west side, farmers, who frankly have invested so far time they're never going to get back with us and then we're going to be drawing on their time in the future. So I want to say a special thanks to the willingness to sit down with us and spend time in discussions. I want to say thanks to the county staff, both county counsel's staff, the CEO's staff, environmental health, our community economic development planning division, really who have spent a lot of time on this endeavor. So thanks very much. I think that's here. We have an additional segment I was wondering what was the direction of the chair?

Chairman O'Banion: I think we need to finish this item before we go to tea.

Walsh: OK. Very good.

O'Banion. But, before we get to that point we're going to take a break. We're going to break for about five minutes. At that time we will give the public the opportunity to make comments.

. . .

I'd like to call the meeting back to order. Thank you for being patient and we will go on with the agenda because we have had the report from the experts and our staff with regards to the ordinance. The next thing I think we've got to do is I think the board members most of the board members have received some emails with regards to it and I have one that I received this morning from Robert and Diane Fitzer in Los Banos or up in the edge of the foothills in Los Banos and they did write a letter and I will give the letter to the clerk so this is part of the record of today's meeting. And I don't know if any other board members had any but if you do I'd ask that you give those to the clerk so that we have them as part of the record. Are there questions or statements before we allow the public ... this isn't a public hearing but we want input from the public so we will use the process the public hearing process to give you an opportunity to speak. Any comments from board members? ... OK, at this time anybody who would like to make comments with regards to the proposal the we just received please come forward and do so at this time...No one is interested in making comments! (Guffaws from the supervisors.) We're not going to ask four or five times. And I would ask that you give your name and address for the record as well as you will be limited, wait a minute, wait a minute, you're going to be limited to three minutes in your presentation. Please give your name and address for the record. That will be part of the three minutes and you can only make a presentation one time. Go ahead. Thank you for being patient.

Lon Martin: 'or Ron Martin with San Luis Water District, 1015 Sixth St., Los Banos. Really want to appreciate staff and Mr. Brown and all the efforts they've gone through to develop this and to the supervisors who chaired the meetings, really appreciate the transparency and the level of effort and enjoyed working with them.

And I think our concern and obviously we know that there's groundwater struggles and difficulties in the county and want to help the county develop the best policy and ordinance possible. And I think our concern specifically involves some of the exemptions and how it relates to specific property owners within a water district and are those exemptions extended to those folks that need to use their wells or rehabilitate their wells or actually drill a new well to replace the offsetting of the reduced water supplies that have been recently and could be in the future hitting our growers.

So again thank you for those efforts and um we'll be looking forward to diving into how this ordinance is being implemented. Thanks.

O'Banion: Thank you, Ron.

Chris White: 'Morning, Chris White, general manager of Central California Irrigation District, 1335 West I Street, Los Banos, California.

Wanted to also thank the board's committee and their efforts in meeting with the districts and trying to get their arms around this massive issue in the county called groundwater uh, and county staff and how they proceeded under this uh in this process to prepare an ordinance. I think I would advocate that you just continue to proceed in a measured way with this ordinance,. Um, one of the things that we would like to see zeroed into a little more completely before the ordinance gets adopted if possible is the implementation part of the process. We have a good working relationship with county staff as it relates to understanding the issues on the west side and we want to continue to educate so that we can mutually understand both the challenges of the county and what special challenges we have in this implementation process. We're finding in the adjoining counties that it's one -- and in fact we will find this to be true in the state law that was just recently adopted -- it's one thing to have the ordinance, it's another how it gets implemented. It makes all the difference in the world (That's kind of a short definition of the relationship between the state and federal resource law on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, CA -- blj) if done properly. (If done "properly" so no one can see.  -- blj) And I want to echo something that Lon mentioned just before me, that is that in our district I have 1,900 landowners whose roots go back to the 1870's from an irrigation standpoint. There is nothing but stability in our service area from a land-use perspective and a water-use perspective. When they come to you for a well permit they expect to be covered by the AB 3030 groundwater management plan that the district operates and that we use to intensively manage and monitor our groundwater within our district.

And I would just like to leave you with that and again thank you very much for your efforts.

O'Banion: Thank you.

Amanda Caravajal: Good morning, Amanda Caravajal, executive director of the Merced County Farm Bureau, 646 South Highway 59. I won't give you guys all the accolades like everyone else. I do agree, I just don't want to waste my time, but I appreciate everything you guys have done and especially for asking hard questions. That's one thing that hasn't been recognized that there were a lot of hard questions that you guys brought forward in these meetings that needed to be asked, moving forward, something not so much for you guys but for the public that's here listening I want to remind people that Hub said it best the groundwater is a savings account, a bank in good years it's recharged in bad years e go to it um this year has been exceptional and due to the fact that the states and the feds have taken a lot of surface water we are getting in harder and harder constraints something I'd like to ask the board of supervisors is to really make a concerted effort in the coming year to put forth a strong we need surface water we need unimpeded flows and decisions on riparian landowners by the state water board we need the county there to fight for us for that surface water because that will help us as we do recharge as we look at the whole the whole I know you guys have no jurisdictional power over that but I do need you to help us as we do recharge as the whole as we're looking at the whole I know you guys have no jurisdictional over that but I need you guys your guys's arms in there swinging with us.

Um, I would like to echo both Chris and Lon's concerns regarding the exemptions with regard to the landowners within AB 3030 and policy water districts um that was something that was expressed by Farm Bureau and just making sure that our landowners have that ability to get in there especially when they're just trying to supplement what they've had for generations. Additionally, echoing what the previous two have spoken on, implementation. That is going to be a big hurdle. We all expect that. We are going to be there right by your side kinda trying to echo come up with some cases that you guys can evaluate and kinda get through we want to make sure that staff is really keen understanding what is going on and I think hiring an expert hydrologist will be very beneficial um and the other one that hasn't really been brought up is baseline is making sure you work with us on that baseline because we do have concerns about moving forward we want to make sure that we are all on the same page as we create that baseline and uh but Merced Farm Bureau has not taken a stand on this but we have been fully engaged. Thank you very much.

O'Banion: Thank you, Amanda. Anyone else with to make comments? Mr. Weimer.

Bob Weimer: Good morning. Bob Weimer, 4621 Sultana Avenue, Atwater. I would just like to say that I appreciate the diligence that the two supervisors that participated and the staff that participated in this and all the individuals that came to the table. I think it was full represented throughout the county. Uh, I think we've come a long way in the last several months in getting a grasp on some of the issues that we have. One of the things that we've done in this that some of the other ordinances haven't is that we've recognized that there's differences between the different aquifers within the county and I think this is very critical. Uh, that we continue to look at it that way because we all have differences the CCID, the San Luis, they have issues that they need to contend with we have issues on the east side that are different so I think that we need to remain that as we put this ordinance together that covers everything we have to keep in mind that there are differences. And ah and so I think the group for recognizing that. And ah so I appreciate it and we'll be more than happy to participate as we go forward and in the very same ... Thank you.

O'Banion: Thank you. Anyone else?

Mike Murphy: Good morning. I'm Mike Murphy, member of the Merced City Council. I come to you not on behalf of the council just individually, and uh, my address is 4060 Rutgers Court, in Merced.

Um, I'm glad this topic is being taken up I think it is a high priority and uh but the process is one where there's a lot of collaboration and input I would just urge you to continue to be mindful of the need to move expeditiously (like Powder milk Biscuits perhaps?) in this process. In the City of Merced, for example, we've got 20 wells and they range in depth some of them are very deep our shallowest wells are 150 feet deep. And, uh, our water is dropping in some places two feet a year so I would encourage you to move expeditiously you know there was mention of a state of emergency although this is not an emergency ordinance it feels like an emergency in fact it is and I would encourage you to continue to be mindful of that (in plain English, like Vipassana? or you goin' Zen on us, Councilmember? -- blj)

O'Banion: Thank you, Mike. Anyone else? One more time, anyone else? OK, at this point we'll close the public opportunity and turn it back to the board. Soon as I figure out how to turn off the timer so that it doesn't go off...OK, now you can talk. Did you want to speak, Mr. Davis?

Supervisor Lynn Davis: Yes, I did. I would like to make a couple of comments. One question I do have is LAFCO going to be a player in this? Has that been addressed yet? If not, we may want to consider that.

O'Banion: Does everyone understand the question? We have an entity here in the county called Local Agency Formation Commission and they make determinations on annexations and land-use changes and so on. Ah, question is, are they going to be involved in this ordinance? Counsel, do you have ...

Davis: I don't need an answer on that right now. But I'm just bringing it up as something that needs to be asked because when Mr. Brown brought up that this could be a land issue that's what generated that question.

O'Banion: OK. So that's a question that we need to get answered.

Davis: The other concern that I've heard on the ordinance that we've had today that has been presented today from constituents is the appeals process and to make sure that that process is reviewed in depth and that it is a process that is definitely open to the public. The appeals process is never easy but ah it is something that needs to be discussed in more detail and presented to not only the board but to the public. The other concern in this process that I have over the last few months is the residents that live in the rural communities that have their own private residential wells and I being one of those I know my well in the last eight months has dropped 14 feet, not two foot per year and the residents throughout my district that live in the rural area have a genuine concern as to what's going to happen to their drinking water. There have been a lot of wells on my street alone in the last six months we've had to drill six new wells. Now some of those wells are old wells, you know 75 feet, 90 feet, 100 feet, but now we're also addressing wells that are 190 feet and they're pumping sand or pumping mud and one of this issues is, is how can how can large volume water users out there continue to use water like they're using and I don't have anything to drink? and that is an issue I think this ordinance needs to address and I don't see where it has addressed the issue of how are we going to protect or maybe protect is not the right word but how are we going to address the issues of these constituents these homeowners out there with their private wells? And after we make sure that their share of water under their property is not being drawn by a large user and I don't see that being addressed yet in this ordinance I do believe the ordinance is a must I do believe the ordinance is definitely going in the right direction I believe that the ordinance as presented today does have some residual in it that helps protect single family owners with their own independent wells out there and I do believe this ordinance needs to be in place before the end of the year and that's all I have at this time.

O'Banion: The other two supervisors are on the committee and I presume that the other supervisors should probably make comments first and then you can follow up I mean since you've already made your presentation I pretty well know where your positions are and I just want to say that I appreciate the work that Hub and John and staff have done in putting this together. I may not agree with Supervisor Davis in regards to the impact to the individual small residential wells. It's not something that's new, not in the McCain area it's been going on for at least 24 years. I do have concerns for those individuals. I don't want to see us get us in a situation where we're expending general fund dollars to address personal wells. Ah if a grant can come forward then I'm all for some kind of process that people can apply for assistance in addressing their well issues.

Ah, I think that the work that has been done is is is good. I think there are some concerns and I totally agree with those who have expressed concerns on the implementation. I think we need to and basically today I don't think we're going to address any specific actions on this item I would say we need to immediately start having the stakeholders as well as the committee go forward with discussions on the implementation at the same time as you are working on the finalized version of this ordinance. Um I appreciate that we are being kept informed as to what is going on. Other board members?

A couple comments that I has to do with policies and procedures and recognizing and I think we need to identify in this agreement and maybe define what AB 3030 is, when that came about, what it entails, it's state law, what other requirements for irrigation districts or special districts to adhere to in regards to that and I think we have to look at other policies that these irrigation districts have in place that address water issues and the delivery and production of additional water. I think that there may be some policies that the entities have that are not identified in the AB 3030's and we need to know and identify and recognize that there are other policies that are established by the irrigation districts. Ah, again I've seen it in the past that I do very seriously rely on our irrigation districts for the main input on water issues. I think also that there is something there was someone who made a comment and I don't remember exactly who it was but there was a comment made about our growers and the wells that they have and with the drought and with the different issues that we've come across this last year there may be some situations that are going to change for the future as to how they acquire their water or from what route they'll be getting that water I think we need to identify personally I feel that we should recognize the fact that if they're in an irrigation district today they should be covered under the regulations and policies that have been established in those irrigation districts: if not why not? Again, I think that the implementation plan needs to come forward and that the community immediately needs to start talking about that and help us with some recommendations about how it should be implemented.

One concern I have in here is with regards to the authority. Is it now as I interpret it now it identifies two county entities that will be responsible for sending the uh bad news, the cease and desist letter or whatever the case may be, and that's environmental health and the planning uh economic development community development department. There's gotta be one that you identify. (Ron Rowe, director of the Environmental Health Department, squirms in his seat at the bottom of the TV screen. He wants all the authority and to give all the accountability to the planning department, which is likely to object to that scenario with its large political guns blazing.--blj) I don't want folks to be tied to two different entities. They need to be I mean I understand the process I understand the job that both of those entities have and I support those but we need to have I guess I'd have to say one boss that is responsible to make sure that if a letter goes out it's from the County, it's not from one of the two entities but it's from the County of Merced.

Mainly the suggestions and concerns that I have for going forward with the development of the plan I think that also there is in the document it also does not identify who appeals will be made to. I believe they should be the board of supervisors and I would hope that my fellow board members would agree that an ordinance of this magnitude and importance that we have the final say on the issues unless there is some legal reason why we should not be.

And that's the comments that I have. Now then, Hub and John, do you have further comments?

Pedrozo: I just want to be real quick because I think we discussed everything we've been talking over over the last few months and I too I just want to thank everyone that's came to these meetings because ah there's so many pieces of the puzzle to make these things work that where Hub and I and not just Hub staff and Hub and I been meeting with different water agencies in different counties every time we go to a conference or something we're always their water ordinances and what they have implemented and what is the most importance I have major concerns on property rights and you know water basins like Mr. Green's been talking about and what we've been discussing over the last few months and I know we have something coming up here in just a little bit about wells and you know just yesterday I had two people call me that are completely out of wells or completely out of water and no money so I mean there's stuff we need to address and they have no way of getting water right know and uh, uh, these are all and it all comes in hand in hand and ties together so I mean these are some concerns that and I've said this before in the past just out there in my area you know and no one's more pro ag than I am and I'm going to support agriculture because that's our backbone of this valley and Merced County of course but in my area just alone out on 3336 Thrift Road and down that road there's been four people that have had to have their wells dropped. I've been one, my brother's been one, the neighbors around us have so I just mean this is something that is so serious that you know hindsight's 20-20 God willing we get some rain no matter what all the scientists and everybody's saying but there's Mother Nature speaks with actions not words so let's just think positive on that. But I just wanted to thank everyone for their input these meetings have been they've been I've learned more about water basins and the CCID and all these water agencies it's been a wealth of information for me so I appreciate that.

Walsh: Again, I will echo the thanks for the time that folks have spent with us both in conversations and in discussions and their willingness to ah and that includes staff to walk through us couple of times you keep asking so 'does that means this?' or 'does this mean that?' or I really greatly appreciated ah uh the time just the general information I think that one the AB 3030 plans and that's kinda the term we used a lot in our discussions. In our recent discussions our discussion was some districts had other procedures not necessarily reflected in their AB 3030 plan and that means that part of the deal we think we agree with that .. my only I also understand that the legislation may have that was just passed may have at some point freeze or hold their AB 3030 (throws up his arms looking for help to the chair...O'Banion mumbles meaningfully --blj) back to January they can't change so it's policies and procedures so we obviously have to make that connection so that's a good response and it was raised earlier ah the other discussion I would say is that we do need to work uh uh for those of us who have county uh uh or who have county islands up close to municipalities we need to work with our municipalities to assuring what are the processes that if a well goes dry in a domestic area and they're in a county island and close to city services how do they access that? is it better off think in terms of policy rather than sink another well for them to connect in to city services so I part of that that doesn't fit for everybody but for some localities we need to have that collaborative working relationship.

Ah, I think the discussion has been about you know what are we going to do and where are we going to get what kind of direction do we say and the general discussion has been on new wells that because we're not saying we prohibit there's no moratorium here we're not prohibiting them the discussion has been that with a new well when you're having doing ag conversion you're converting the use ah that there might be a necessary study done by the person who's putting that well in to answer the kinds of questions we would otherwise have -- what's the use, what's their fair share, of that, those kinds of questions, and sometimes people are saying are you prohibiting new wells, no, and frankly what we are saying is that you have to do a study, the person who is proposing the well may have to do that study ah, and then the other area where and I don't say consensus but that wells below the Cochran Clay (known by all the other speakers as the Corcoran Clay. Curiously, Walsh, who represents the county seat, can out-mispronounce most farmers in the county, a linguistic feat of note. -- blj) are really ones where we think we need a study done. We need information and uh if you're going to sink uh that kind of level of well, whoever is proposing that will need to frankly do that kind of research and information -- not to prohibit it because just this part of this we're trying to create a process by which we and I mean we collectively ah manage this precious resource and if we don't have that kind of information it's just difficult for us to make those kinds of management decisions. I echo the thought that the appeals ought to expedited because if you're appealing a process and you there's some urgency about you getting approval because I assume nobody's going to appeal a denial of their or approval of their permit but we need to do that expedited because a sense of urgency and sometimes just getting to us my only questions about coming to us I'm not opposed to that getting to us just takes a little longer if we have another process but that's ...

O'Banion: Maybe. Maybe not.

Walsh: Jus' OK. The other part is what does the appeal include. If I said no one would appeal their approval what if a neighbor appeals their approval? So it's not my approval I'm appealing it's the neighbor saying, hey I don't he oughta have a well being dug so I think it's those kinds of appeal processes we'll need to work through uh and the other part just a quick message just recently Supervisor Pedrozo and I were talking to some well drilling and pump folks and what they were saying to us was that a lot of folks whose wells are domestic wells are going dry are really an issue of the fact that the pump has burnt out because it has not been lowered down into water cools the pump and then when it toasts up if you don't catch it in time you are drilling a new well because now you've toasted the casing so I would encourage folks who have wells you oughta go out and find out where your pump is in relationship to the water ah and if it isn't if it's really close you might ah want to come and talk with them about lowering your pump down into the ah so that you're not going to face ah challenge that we just heard about.

O'Banion: Thanks, Hub. John, you had an additional comment?

Pedrozo: Real brief. Uh, and I know we have a couple of our city council members here but another thing that I'd like to see is that I'd like to see a little more input from our cities throughout the county not just from Merced, not just County, I mean this is a countywide issue I think we need to hear I know Livingston has some issues I don't know that much about what's going on as far as Atwater area except for the McSwain area but I think all the cities should have some input or and at least so that we know the situation that their area is in. That's all. I'd just like a little more input from that.

O'Banion:Yeah and I think some of the ah some of the cities have water directly with the irrigation districts and do groundwater studies, storage underground and things like this, so I don't think they're doing it all in the dark. (Pedrozo inaudible) OK. Thanks, John. The last think is that Supervisor Kelsey was unable to be here today and Mr. Brown has some comments from her.

CEO Brown: Yeah, Supervisor Kelsey apologies for not being here today and last night she did send me a statement that I'll provide for the record and that I'll provide copies but she wanted it read into the record.

Um, (the Letter of Supervisor Deidre Kelsey):

 Regarding the draft groundwater ordinance being presented today I have a few thoughts I would like to enter into the record. The ordinance refers to a requirement additional criteria submitted in all applications for new wells from the Environmental Health Department. The ability to obtain a well permit includes language which requires data or documentation to be provided to the County by the applicant. This information will be evaluated by environmental health and the planning department for consistency with both existing or proposed groundwater-management policies. In many cases there will be no accurate information available as there are few farmers and ranchers who track and maintain groundwater records.  As part of this ordinance, Merced County must implement a regional groundwater collaborative, to include all cities and water districts including those who farm or ranch in the unincorporated areas outside a water district -- a collaborative such as the one operating in Yolo County that exceed any efforts currently in existence in Merced County. This body should convene quarterly and provide information and advice to the board of supervisors.

The implementation of the proposed regulations needs further definition. And with the process these regulations will require additional discussion with the agricultural community as well as with the affected departments before a final draft is submitted for board consideration.

Also, there needs to be a trainings person on staff to assess the application for conformance. I believe there will be a need for staff that is certified in hydrology and related matters to make decisions on well applications.

When permits are denied, the appeals process needs to be easily understood by the applicants. The appeal board should be made up of qualified water experts who will review the application based on science and current best practices for sustainable groundwater for Merced County.

Furthermore, to avoid an on-paper-only policy the appeal body should be similar to the county tax assessment appeals board.

I look forward to implementing a meaningful and proactive groundwater policy which allows for the sustainability of Merced County groundwater resources.

Thank you.

Deidre Kelsey, Merced County Supervisor, District 4.

O'Banion: And that is the end of the presentation on that item.

NOTE: 

Whether by intention or incompetence, the variously named plans – Merced Water Supply Plan (all phases), Merced Groundwater Basin Groundwater Management Plan, Merced Irrigation District Groundwater Management Plan, and Regional Groundwater Management Plan – are incomprehensible to the public, alleged beneficiaries of them, even to a public as familiar with such documents as we are. -- Letter to Merced Area Groundwater Pool Interests, Lydia Miller, Steve Burke, July 1, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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