MEETING NOTES: New water authority created; state drums up support for delta tunnel

June 13, 2024
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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Rosedale Rio-Bravo Water Storage District Board of Directors

Arvin-Edison board of directors

Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa board of directors

Cawelo Water District Board of Directors 

Date: June 11 through 13, 2024
Rosedale Rio-Bravo Packet: CLICK HERE.
Arvin Edison Agenda: CLICK HERE
Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Packet: CLICK HERE
Cawelo Agenda: CLICK HERE

New authority: Several members of the Kern subbasin met to appoint representatives to the newly formed Kern Non-Districted Land Authority, formerly known as the Kern Groundwater Authority. 

The Kern Groundwater Authority disbanded as of its last meeting in May and a new joint powers agreement created the Non-Districted Land Authority. The new authority has yet to hold its first meeting.

Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), all lands in over drafted groundwater basins must be covered by a groundwater sustainability agency, including lands that are outside of existing water districts. Hence, the name “non-districted.” 

Most of those lands are around the edges of the subbasin and are typically used for cattle grazing or other uses, as opposed to irrigated farmland.

The former Kern Groundwater Authority had managed those lands with funding from water districts. However, under Kern’s newly rewritten groundwater plan, landowners in those non-districted are expected to take greater control over their own management and funding.

The Non-Districted Land Authority will be run by a mix of water district/groundwater sustainability directors and non-districted land representatives. Once those directors are in place and meeting dates established, they will appoint two representatives from the non-districted lands.


  • Rosedale Rio-Bravo appointed Barry Watts.
  • Arvin-Edison appointed Derek Yurosek as primary and Scott Spitzer as secondary. Arvin-Edison also nominated Yurosek and Brett Sill from the Eastside Water Management area, a non-districted land organization .
  • Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa appointed Michael Blaine as primary and Colby Fry as secondary.
  • Cawelo Groundwater Sustainability Agency appointed Spencer Birch.

Delta tunnel: The Department of Water Resources (DWR) also made the rounds to each water district to discuss cost increases of its Delta Conveyance Project, a tunnel that would take water from the Sacramento River under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to pumps near Tracy.

The project will be paid for by users who contract for water from the State Water Project. Kern County holds the second largest contract in the state at just under 1 million acre feet per year. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is the largest state water contractor.

The state needs both entities to fund the project. But in recent years, several Kern water districts have opted out, or reduced their share as costs and uncertainty around the tunnel have risen.

The latest cost estimates revealed by DWR show the tunnel’s costs have gone from $16 billion to $20 billion. Environmental groups who opposed the tunnel say the costs are closer to $50 billion when interest is included.

DWR reps said the benefits, though, are a 2.20 cost ratio, meaning for every $1 spent, there is $2.20 in benefits.

At the Rosedale Rio-Bravo meeting Resource Manager Trent Taylor said that was skewed due to urban benefit, not agricultural benefit. It was noted in the meeting that there wasn’t information provided to the precise benefits for agriculture and more information was requested.

Rosedale-Rio Bravo Board President Roy Pierucci asked whether it would kill the tunnel if Kern County backed out. Other board members said they doubted that as the project had Metropolitan’s support. However, Metropolitan has only committed $160 million to this version of the project.

At the Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa meeting Director Jonathan Reiter said: “It was a tough decision a few years ago when we had a strong ag market. Now the costs have gone up and the assumptions are not realistic, in a lot of ways, and the ag market is worse”

DWR also shared a graph showing  state water project deliveries were expected to decrease from now until 2070 without the tunnel. With the tunnel, it showed water deliveries remaining static.

That frustrated district board members as the tunnel isn’t expected to increase supplies. 

Despite the disheartening information, the districts noted there was a greater risk in not being a part of the project.

”The heavy hitters in this thing, they have no problem cutting you out if you are not a participant,” said Jason Selvidge, vice-president of the Rosedale-Rio Bravo board.

The districts agreed they could perhaps decrease how much of a contribution they make toward the tunnel but still participate.

How to attend: 

Rosedale- Rio Bravo meets at 8 a.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at their district office located at 849 Allen Road

Arvin-Edison Water Storage District meets at 12 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at its office, 20401 E. Bear Mountain Blvd., or online via Microsoft Teams using the Meeting ID: 286 409 917 101 and Passcode: LbHxDa

Wheeler Ridge meets at 8 a.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at its office, 12109 Hwy 166, or online at 

Cawelo Water District meets at 9 a.m. on the 2nd Thursday of each month at their district office located at 17207 Industrial Farm Road. You can also join online via Zoom using the Meeting ID: 813 8284 0698 and Passcode: 424688, or via this link.

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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