A little-known, local water district – the Omochumne-Hartnell Water District – will hold their first board member election in 43 years on Nov. 5
Boundaries of this 30,000-acre district extend from Grant Line Road to Highway 99, and from the Jackson Highway to Dillard Road. There are about 1,200 parcels within those borders.
The district was established in 1953, mainly to help supply surface water off the Cosumnes River to the landowners in this area.
In the upcoming election, voters will choose from four candidates to fill three board seats.
Mike Wackman, the district’s general manager, mentioned that for many years, the district did not hold elections since there were not enough candidates.
“Before, what happened is if you do not have enough people to run for those seats, then the board of directors just takes action for those people who applied for those seats to appoint them to those seats that are opened,” he said.
Wackman noted that changes in the district’s operations led to the upcoming election.
“There was not a lot going on in the district, but with all the new water regulations coming forward, there’s a lot more things happening in the district,” he said.
“The district has become a groundwater sustainability agency on part of the district, which means that they are looking to implement groundwater management plans and groundwater replenishment projects.”
Wackman said that these activities are directed toward meeting requirements for some of the new state laws.
He further described changes in the district throughout the years.
“The district has evolved, so now they actually do have four flashboard dams in the Cosumnes River that they put in each year to help back up the water during the springtime and the summer, which helps groundwater recharge,” Wackman said.
The district also takes floodwaters off of the Cosumnes and floods certain areas between the Cosumnes River and Deer Creek in order to increase groundwater recharge in the area.
Wackman noted that the district’s biggest issue is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“It was an act that was passed in 2016 by the state legislature, and it requires all the local jurisdictions either to develop their own groundwater sustainability agencies to manage groundwater (or have the state manage the groundwater),” he said.
Because the Omochumne-Hartnell Water District is a land owner-based district, the elections are based on acreages.
During the upcoming election, each voter will be allowed to cast one vote for each acre they own within the district. But in the event that a voter owns less than one acre, they will be allowed one vote.
Any fraction of an acre will be rounded to the nearest full acre, while properties owned by more than one person will be apportioned among the owners on a pro-rata basis.
As part of the campaign process, those running in the upcoming election submitted candidate statements.
In his statement, Paul Hensleigh informed voters that he believes that his work experience and analytical and problem-solving abilities can be beneficial to the district.
Hensleigh, a Sheldon resident who has a degree in electrical engineering, spent 25 years working as an air quality regulator.
This candidate, who has raised cattle locally for many years, mentioned that he understands issues facing agriculture.
Candidate Kurt Kautz stressed the importance of water protection and quality.
“The protection of the water and the quality of the water is the only goal of the district to properly serve the constituents,” he wrote.
Kautz, a farmer in the district since 1985, has served on the district’s board for more than 20 years and is its current chairman.
Suzanne Pecci, a resident of Elk Grove since 1978, is a retired state loan officer and was appointed by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors as the alternate agricultural-residential board member to the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority.
This candidate wrote that unlike several other candidates who own land in the district, but live outside of the district and Sacramento County, she lives in the district, and would represent all district water users “in planning, managing and financing the district water supply.”
Mark Wilson, who owns property in Wilton, shared his desire to serve the district.
“For business reasons, I had to move to Clarksburg in Yolo County in 2002, after living in Wilton and Sloughhouse from 1976,” he wrote. “I will do my best to help Omochumne-Hartnell Water District, its residents and the Cosumnes basin.”