MEETING NOTES: Flood repairs going slowly as Cawelo Water District waits on federal relief funds

November 14, 2023
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
by Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
CVP: Central Valley Project. CVC: Cross Valley Canal. KCWA SWP: Kern County Water Agency, State Water Project.
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water

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* “Meeting Notes” is a new feature focused on Kern County water districts, paid for by a grant from the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Please consider supporting SJV Water so we can continue this important coverage.

Meeting: Cawelo Water District board of directors

Date: Oct. 12, 2023 (note, the date on the agenda is a misprint)


Board packet: CLICK HERE

Major topic: Repairing flood damage from Poso Creek

So far: The district has applied for $8.89 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Board action: Discussion only.

Details: The district only has $600,000 on hand to fund repairs, which were extensive after the March 10 storm brought tons of debris down the Poso Creek, destroying district weirs, pump stations and wells.

Cawelo hopes the start of the 2023-2024 federal budget will speed up the process. 

Cawelo General Manager Dave Ansolabehere said in a separate interview that the district has finally received confirmation that it has authority to make repairs under California’s disaster declaration. But its FEMA reimbursement request is still pending.

“We don’t have enough money for all the repairs, so we’re doing the bare minimum to keep everything operational,” Ansolabehere said.

The district is also working on new levees around its recharge ponds. The Poso flooding also damaged those levees, which the district wasn’t able to detect until it began recharging Kern River water into those ponds after the flooding.

That recharge water began leaking back into the Poso Creek bed, which is not allowed by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

“We had to shut down those ponds and fix them so they don’t leak,” Ansolabehere said. Once the ponds are dry enough, the district plans to use materials already in the ponds to deepen the basins and build the levees. 

Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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