Kings County Water District Exits Mid-Kings River GSA, Stirring Concerns

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Water

The Kings County Water District (KCWD) board has voted to withdraw from the Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), sparking concern and uncertainty among local farmers. The Mid-Kings River GSA is comprised of three agencies that established a Joint Powers Authority (JPA). This move, made during a special board meeting, removes KCWD’s three seats from the GSA board, leaving it without enough members to make decisions. “The GSA now only has one seated board member, which doesn’t make quorum and they cannot legally take any action,” said Dusty Ference, Executive Director of the Kings County Farm Bureau.

Mid-Kings River GSA

There is hope that the County of Kings and the City of Hanford can renegotiate the JPA quickly to reestablish a functional board and continue developing a workable Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The decision comes amid recent disappointment with the KCWD board, evidenced by a letter with more than 200 signatories requesting their resignation. “Disappointment may be an understatement at this point,” Ference noted.

The Tulare Lake subbasin, which includes the Mid-Kings River GSA along with four other GSAs, is currently on probation by the State Water Resources Control Board. This probation status adds to the complexity of managing groundwater in the area. Ference pointed out that while three subbasins intend to submit their own GSPs, the other two subbasins face significant challenges due to leadership and coordination issues.

“Both of those GSA’s are at a standstill almost right now,” said Ference. “But even if those two submitted a plan tomorrow, there’s a crucial component that still has to be worked out. That’s called a ‘Coordination Agreement.’” That agreement among the GSAs ensures that each individual plan does not negatively impact its neighbors. Ference explained that the components necessary for an effective Coordination Agreement are basically the same ones that prevented a single GSP from being submitted. “I’m not sure it makes it any easier. I think the negotiations are still very similar, but it might allow the State Water Board to choose individual GSAs under the Good Actor clause in SGMA,” said Ference.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West