Assessment Election Passes

Following the closing of the Prop 218 assessment election public hearing on May 10th, the Greater Kaweah GSA Board tabulated and certified the ballot results, which favored the local assessment by 85 percent. The Board approved and set a rate of $10/acre for the fiscal year 2021/22. The Board will set a rate not to exceed $10/acre each fiscal year.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is an unfunded state mandate that was passed in 2014. It requires water agencies to bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge within 20 years. SGMA is unfunded and has severe consequences to landowners if its requirements are not met. That is why the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency is proactively developing solutions to prioritize local interests and keep expenses for landowners to a minimum.

The Greater Kaweah GSA is seeking to raise a $10 per acre assessment through a Proposition 218 election. An assessment is needed to keep implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) local by funding the administration and implementation of the Greater Kaweah GSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). If the Greater Kaweah GSA fails to implement the GSP, such failure would result in intervention by the State. By ensuring successful GSP implementation, the Greater Kaweah GSA and its landowners can avoid the uncertainties and potential costs associated with State Intervention.

Compliance with SGMA is not optional and is best accomplished locally. Securing funds to retain local control ensures stakeholder’s have input and provides for solutions that benefit our region. The Greater Kaweah GSA Board is dedicated to navigating SGMA together as a local community.

To identify if your property lies within the Greater Kaweah GSA, use the CA Department of Water Resources GSA Map Viewer Tool.

💧 The Cost of Groundwater Management

Implementing SGMA

An unfunded California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires better management and balance of groundwater supplies in a groundwater subbasin through the creation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with extensive powers to manage groundwater.

The Greater Kaweah GSA is the voice for our landowners, complying with SGMA and interacting with State agencies such as the Department of Water Resources and State Water Resources Control Board.

An assessment rate structure is necessary to cover the costs to follow the new State law within its stipulated deadlines.  Based on the Greater Kaweah GSA’s needs, the Board of Directors is proposing a Proposition 218 Election for landowner approval to levy an assessment. The assessment would generate sufficient revenue to fund annual operational costs and expenses associated with the implementation of the Greater Kaweah GSA Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

Greater Kaweah’s GSP focuses on assessing, monitoring, and mitigating undesirable results from groundwater use. Several of these undesirable results, for example lowering groundwater levels and groundwater storage reduction, are significant issues and will need to be addressed and corrected.

SGMA Compliance

Compliance with SGMA is not optional and is best accomplished locally. Implementing SGMA at the local level allows stakeholder input and provides for solutions that carry benefits to our region. The Greater Kaweah GSA Board is dedicated to navigating SGMA together as a local community of stakeholders.

SGMA stipulates that local GSA’s must develop and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan and achieve groundwater sustainability within 20 years; failure to do so will trigger State Intervention. Funding the implementation of the Greater Kaweah GSA Groundwater Sustainability Plan through the proposed assessment is crucial to achieving compliance at the local level.

The Kaweah Subbasin is currently estimated to have an annual overdraft of approximately 78,000 acre-feet per year, and the Greater Kaweah GSA portion of this total is estimated at approximately 34,600 acre-feet per year.  As the Greater Kaweah GSA implements its GSP, it plans to gradually reduce the overdraft to become sustainable by 2040.

Failure Comes at a Great Cost

State Intervention

The $10 per acre assessment will keep SGMA implementation at the local level.

Failing to fund efforts of the local GSA implementing SGMA will put the Kaweah Subbasin at risk of probation and State Intervention. Basins deemed “probationary” are those that fail to meet State-mandated deadlines and thus are not in compliance with SGMA. Follow the link below for an overview of State Intervention triggers:

State Intervention Triggers

In the case of probation and State Intervention, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) could impose a significantly greater fee structure on groundwater pumpers  than what is proposed by the Greater Kaweah GSA, and is likely to impose unfavorable restrictions without providing local benefits.

“Basins run the risk of state intervention if they miss the deadline for plans or don’t have a plan that DWR thinks will be sustainable…[State Water Resources Control] Board will proceed with its own plan until the issues are fixed…That kind of interim plan wouldn’t have much flexibility: we’d require monitoring, collect pumping data, and set a schedule for certain corrective actions – likely reduced pumping. SGMA gives us that blunt instrument – reducing pumping – and we would probably use it.” -Sam Boland-Brien, Supervising Chief of the CA State Water Resources Control Board

Read the full interview with Sam Boland-Brien here: Enforcing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

Greater Kaweah Assessment vs. State Fees

State Intervention could lead to significantly greater fees for landowners, and without carrying the same benefits for the local community.

If the Greater Kaweah GSA is unable to comply with the State’s groundwater law due to a lack of funding, such failure could result in intervention by the State. Below is a comparison of the Greater Kaweah GSA land-based fees at $10 per acre versus the State pumping fees for landowners.

 

Download the fee comparison graphic.

State Intervention Fee Structure

If the requirements of SGMA fail at the local level, the State will intervene and impose its own costly fees.

Click here to learn more about State Intervention fee structure.

💲 Funding the Greater Kaweah GSA

Proposition 218

Prop 218 Overview

The Greater Kaweah GSA Board is committed to retaining local control over SGMA implementation, where landowner dollars are utilized most efficiently and beneficially. To fund these efforts the Board is conducting a Proposition 218 election for approval to levy assessments on landowners within its jurisdiction. The primary objectives of the Greater Kaweah GSA Board regarding revenues are to ensure the Agency’s expenditures are truly necessary and that those costs are allocated in a fair and equitable manner. The proposed $10.00 per acre assessment reflects a 6-year budget at the end of which the GSA may hold another Proposition 218 election for additional funding needs.

Stakeholders Impacted by the Prop 218

The affected landowners includes all parcel owners within the boundaries of the Greater Kaweah GSA excluding parcels of 4 acres or less, government owned parcels, public right-of-way (roads and highways), parcels not entirely within the Greater Kaweah GSA boundary, and lands within the cities and communities of Goshen, Exeter, Hanford, Farmersville, Ivanhoe, Visalia, and Woodlake.

To identify if your property lies within the Greater Kaweah GSA, use the CA Department of Water Resources GSA Map Viewer Tool.

Prop 218 Background

Proposition 218 is a Constitutional Initiative approved by the voters of California in November 1996. It requires new or increased fees and assessments be approved by affected landowners. The Greater Kaweah GSA made the decision to conduct Proposition 218 because it is a transparent process and gives landowners a direct say in determining the election and SGMA implementation.

Engineer's Report

At the March 1, 2021 Board meeting, the Directors of the Greater Kaweah GSA approved the Engineer’s Report to conduct a Proposition 218 election. The Engineer’s Report is prepared in accordance with State law to describe an equitable distribution of the benefit assessments to be derived by each parcel within the Agency upon which such assessments will be levied. The Engineer’s Report discusses benefits of the Agency’s organization, proposed actions, and services provided by the Greater Kaweah GSA.

To view the full Engineer’s Report click the link below:

Engineer’s Report

Attachment A

Attachment B

Proposed 6-Year Assessment Schedule

The Greater Kaweah GSA is asking landowners to vote on a maximum $10 per acre assessment via Proposition 218 election.

The necessary funding for the Agency will be reviewed annually by the Board and, depending on the funds projected to be needed for the year, may be approved up to the maximum ($10.00 per acre) assessment rate. The table below shows the estimated expenses for the 6-year lifespan of the assessment. The Board will determine the actual budget each year prior to approving that year’s assessment.

Estimated Expenses and Proposed Budget:

Year 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
GSA Administration 348,700 370,620 390,617 411,724 434,005 457,526
GSP Administrative Implementation 1,200,000 1,299,950 1,395,499 1,434,663 1,348,463 1,270,917
Misc. Funding Efforts 80,000 51,200 62,472 93,820 25,250 26,765
Member Agency Reimbursement 312,000 218,000 92,000 0 132,000 185,000
Total Budget $1,940,700 $1,939,770 $1,940,588 $1,940,208 $1,939,718 $1,940,208

The annual Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) administrative implementation efforts began in 2020 after submittal of the GSP and continue into the future. The on-going costs of GSP administrative implementation include but are not limited to, basin coordination/policy development, engineering and consultants, various types of monitoring, annual reporting, management of the data management system and preparation for the 5-year GSP updates.

The components that make up the total are shown in the table below and are explained further in the Engineer’s Report. Note that the assessment amount levied may vary from year to year, but will not exceed the maximum amount ($10.00 per acre) unless an increase is approved through a subsequent Proposition 218.

Potential 6-Year Assessment Schedule:

Assessment Year 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
Category ($/acre)
GSA Administration $1.80 $1.91 $2.01 $2.12 $2.24 $2.36
GSP Administrative Implementation $6.18 $6.70 $7.19 $7.39 $6.95 $6.55
Misc. Funding Efforts $0.41 $0.26 $0.32 $0.48 $0.13 $0.14
Member Agency Reimbursement $1.61 $1.12 $0.47 $0.00 $0.68 $0.95
Total Proposed Assessment $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 $10.00

🗳️ Your Vote is Needed

Ballots

When to Expect Your Ballot

Ballots will be mailed the week of March 15, 2021 to the most recent addresses on file with Tulare and Kings counties.

 

When & Where to Submit Your Ballot

Please follow the directions listed on the assessment ballot to express your view on the proposed maximum assessment. You may mail your ballot in the enclosed postage paid envelope to Greater Kaweah GSA, c/o MK Election Services, P.O. Box 63, Farmersville, CA 93223. Sealed ballots may also be hand-delivered to the GKGSA office (2975 N. Farmersville Blvd., Farmersville, CA 93223) during normal business hours.  Hand-delivered ballots will also be accepted at the Public Hearing. Regardless of whether you choose to mail or hand-deliver your ballot, it MUST be received no later than the conclusion of the Public Hearing, which starts at 1:00 p.m. on May 10, 2021 or it will not be counted in the final tabulation of ballots.

Number of Votes

The number of votes you can cast with respect to your property will correspond to the potential financial obligation imposed on your property. You may change your vote at any time prior to the conclusion of the Public Hearing on this matter. However, because the ballots must remain sealed until the tabulation begins, regardless of your method of delivery, you will be provided a replacement ballot to provide your new vote.

Tabulating Votes

After the Public Hearing, MK Elections will tabulate the ballots weighted according to the proposed assessment to you for your parcel(s) and will post the results as soon as practical. If the number of votes submitted in opposition to the proposed assessment rate exceed the number of votes submitted in favor (weighted according to the parcel acreage and proposed assessment rate), the GKGSA will not impose the assessment.

 

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