CME Meeting Minutes

April 7, 2011

St. Ignatius, MT

 

Present:  Walt Schock, Steve Hughes, Dan Emerson, Lloyd Irvine, Leroy Dumontier, Kerry Doney, Ron Trahan, Leonard Gray

 

Staff:  Alan Mikkelsen

 

FIIP:  Gordon Wind, Pete Plant, RaLynn Brown

 

Visitors:  Kathy Emerson, Oliver Dupuis, Dick Erb, Ted Hein, Richard Prongua, Paul Hunsucker

 

 

             The meeting was called to order at 1:00 pm by Chairman Steve Hughes. 

            

             Roll call was ordered with all members present.

 

             Walt Schock moved to approve the February 9, 2011 CME minutes as presented and the March 10, 2011 CME minutes as amended.  Leroy Dumontier seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

             Chairman Hughes discussed an e-mail from an attorney that contained a falsehood regarding his supposed application to put 1,000 acres of non-project land into the FIIP.  Chairman Hughes said he had absolutely no such application before the FIIP, and that he did not believe CME members were receiving any special treatment from the FIIP.  Leroy Dumontier said it would be impossible to show preference with eight independent members of the CME.  All CME members verified that none of them were asking for special treatment, or applying to have land brought in or out of the FIIP.  Chairman Hughes thanked the CME members and said that he did not want falsehoods promoted by an attorney to go unchallenged. 

 

             The Project report began with a hydrology report from Pete Plant.  All areas of the FIIP are well above average in snowpack and snow/water equivalent (SWE).  Pete Plant discussed his methodology and formulas for determining runoff.  Pete Plant noted that the last week has seen a sharp spike in SWE.  Pete said that the initial Mission Valley quota would be set at 0.9 acre foot. 

 

             Gordon Wind presented the FIIP O&M report.  Crow Reservoir has been restricted to a maximum elevation of 2825, which is the minimum pool elevation, also.  This restriction will remain in place until the outlet gates are fixed and the spillway is patched.  At that time, depending on BOR recommendations and BIA actions, the filling restriction may be relaxed back to the original restriction of 2849.  The FIIP has been asked by the Safety of Dams (SOD) program to assume responsibility for the inspection and repair of the outlet gates.  A safety chair has been mounted and pumps are being installed to maintain instream flow, including a backup pump system and generator.  Gordon Wind said that the inspection and hopefully repairs will start tomorrow or Saturday.  The FIIP will be double shifting the repairs with 6 people per shift plus fuel and support personnel and will try to finish within five days.  Repair parts have been prepared.  Gordon said this is a difficult schedule, since the last time similar repairs were done, it took three months to do the work.  Gordon said the five day timeframe is driven by inflows of 150-180 cfs, with 24 cfs being pumped out.  The reservoir will climb past the restricted level, and within approximately five days he said they will have to evacuate the dam tower and open the upper gate again, to lower the reservoir back to the restricted level.  Pumping costs are $50,000 per week, with SOD picking up the costs.  Gordon said he is hopeful that money will be provided for spillway repair, also.  SOD will also be reimbursing FIIP personnel costs. 

 

             Gordon Wind presented a Power Point presentation on current projects.  He noted that Lake County is not wanting to replace a culvert and headgate associated with a road crossing, despite the senior pre-existing status of the FIIP.  Gordon said he will be writing a letter to Lake County on the issue. 

 

             Gordon Wind discussed a major canal failure at Mill Creek in the Camas Division.  On Saturday night, April 2, flows in Mill Creek increased from 20 cfs to more than 200 cfs in three or four hours.  This overtopped a spillway at the Mill Creek diversion and caused failure of the canal.  The 3’ pipe and headgate are unable to handle more than 70 cfs, according to Gordon.  He said that FIIP will be moving crews and machinery to the site next week for a temporary repair.  The pipe and headgate remain in place and will be backfilled.  Gordon cautioned that this will only be a temporary repair.  He said that a permanent repair needs to be done this fall, with a system that will be able to handle similar high flows in the future.  Also in the Camas Division, Gordon noted that the Alder Creek Diversion had been shut down due to runoff concerns and reservoir capacity.  Lower Dry Fork reservoir is also being drawn down in anticipation of more runoff from the local area. 

 

             Gordon Wind discussed the Pablo Feeder Canal repair above Pablo Reservoir.  The damaged lining has been removed, forms are in place and FIIP crews will be pouring cement tomorrow and Saturday.  There will be approximately 240’ of canal repaired, using approximately 40 yards of concrete. 

 

             Gordon Wind said that depending on weather and demand, FIIP ditches will start running water on or about April 15.  The Project will send a crew on snowmobiles to open the Placid Creek diversion about April 15.  The Project will also begin plowing the Jocko Road in about two weeks, using a rented D7 Cat with an angle blade. 

 

             Gordon Wind noted that the FIIP will be doing their best to manage reservoir fill rates to avoid spilling water over spillways.  They will be doing this in coordination with the CSKT Fisheries program.  Gordon also noted that Hellroaring Reservoir is likely to overtop and will have to be monitored by FIIP, although the monitoring costs will be reimbursed by SOD. 

 

             In response to a question from Chairman Hughes, Gordon said that the timeframe for the Crow repairs did not allow him to negotiate a lease purchase for a pumping system for dam inspections.  He is still discussing that possibility with BIA and SOD for future inspections. 

 

             Leonard Gray asked if secretarial water rights were still available from Mill Creek.  Gordon said they were, and Mill Creek was still producing large volumes of water. 

 

             Ron Trahan asked about the road closure at Mill Creek.  Gordon said the road was washed out and the bridge was seriously undercut.  The Project set up road closure signs and notified Mike Brown, CSKT Roads Program Director. 

 

             Ted Hein said he was concerned about whether or not the Mill Creek snowpack was being measured accurately.  He also said that the Mill Creek fire caused much more rapid runoff.  He felt that the Camas A Canal should have been able to handle more of the flow. 

 

             Ron Trahan reminded everyone that this was an old system with many repairs needed and that the FIIP was doing the best they could to address ongoing issues and improve the system as much as resources allowed. 

 

             Under Administrative Items, RaLynn Brown discussed health insurance plans for employees.  The plan in effect for the past year is no longer offered.  She presented three options which provided similar coverage, with individual increases of $1.87-$7.62 per month.  The CME contribution will remain the same as the past year ($425/month/enrolled employee).  Ron Trahan moved to appoint Gordon Wind, Pete Plant and RaLynn Brown as an insurance committee to work with employees to select their preferred plan.  Leonard Gray seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

             Gordon Wind said that the FIIP was advertising for new positions, and also advertising for temporary positions to assist with possible Crow spillway repairs.  He said that the FIIP had at least 50 applications that had been recently received. 

 

             RaLynn Brown said that a FIIP website was up and while it was still under construction, people could begin accessing it.  The web address is:  http://www.fiip-cme.org

 

             RaLynn Brown presented the FIIP financial report.  The FIIP balance is $1,222,064.48.  There was a total of $158,787.33 income and $184, 882.46 in expenses in March.  Gordon Wind noted that the FIIP had received 100% compensation from CSKT fisheries for work done at the Placid Creek and Finley Creek/E Canal fish screens. 

 

             Alan Mikkelsen reported that the remaining Indian Deferred Construction monies were being returned to the FIIP in the next couple weeks.  Gordon Wind recommended that the entire amount should be placed in the FIIP Emergency Reserve Fund.  He noted many irrigation projects maintain an emergency reserve fund equivalent of one year’s O&M budget.  He said the emergency reserve should only be used for true emergencies and any use of the emergency reserve should have a plan requiring replacement within a five year time frame.  Walt Schock moved that all of the Indian Deferred monies be set aside in a separate account at Eagle Bank for an emergency reserve fund.  Kerry Doney seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

             Alan Mikkelsen noted that the draft IC minutes were included in the CME meeting package.  He said that the BIA mitigation monies still had not been received, due to federal budget issues involved in continuing resolutions in Washington, D.C.  Alan Mikkelsen asked the CME to approve a MOU between the CME and BIA describing the management of the mitigation monies, and a resolution establishing a discreet CME account to manage the BIA monies for BiOp mitigation measures.  Walt Schock moved to approve the MOU between the CME and BIA.  Ron Trahan seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously.  Ron Trahan moved to approve CME Resolution 2011-01, establishing a discreet account at Eagle Bank for BiOp mitigation measures.  Walt Schock seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

             Gordon Wind presented two short pieces of clarifying language for the recently adopted CME personnel policy and drug policy.  The personnel policy correction says that employees not authorized nor provided a company vehicle to drive to/from their jobsite place or work, or not willing to travel from the FIIP camp nearest their residence to/from their jobsite place of work in company vehicles on their own time, shall report to their assigned jobsite place of work location at the beginning of their work shift.  After discussion Leonard Gray said he would like a more flexible policy.  Kerry Doney moved to approve the clarification in personnel policy.  Leroy Dumontier seconded the motion.  The motion carried 7-1. 

 

             Gordon Wind then presented the clarification to the CME Drug Policy.  He proposed to clarify that criminal conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol; suspension of drivers license for refusal to take a breath or blood alcohol test during a DUI arrest; failing a breath alcohol test or blood alcohol test (BAC ≥0.08%) administered either during a DUI arrest or following an accident to determine BAC during driving.  He also asked to clarify that possession of illegal drugs, controlled substances or alcohol was also subject to disciplinary action.  Leonard Gray discussed deferred imposition of sentences and said that he had seen deferred sentences work to the benefit of people.  Leonard said he would like to see a bit more compassion and flexibility in the policy.  Gordon said the purpose of the policy was to make sure that everyone was treated equally and consistently.  Walt Schock moved to approve the clarification to the Drug Policy.  Dan Emerson seconded the motion.  Motion carried 7-1. 

 

             Lloyd Irvine cautioned that the FIIP needed to make sure that employee orientation covers all the issues in the personnel and drug policies.  Gordon said that all employees will receive the policy and that he and RaLynn will develop a sheet for employees to sign indicating that they had read and understood what was in the personnel and drug policies. 

 

             Chairman Hughes discussed a possible joint project between the CME and the city of Polson to put the canal running through the city in a pipeline.  Alan Mikkelsen provided information on Renewable Resource Grant and Loan Program planning and construction grants.  Planning grants are due by June 1, 2011, but forms for the grants will not be available for another week or two.  He noted that it was not possible to combine applications to double up on funding for a single project. 

 

             Chairman Hughes complemented the CME staff on its presentation at the CME/FJBC annual meeting. 

 

             Gordon Wind discussed the disposal of old or junk property.  Chairman Hughes expressed a desire for disposal at auction of most property, in case any CME member wanted to bid on it.  He said a public auction would remove any allegations that the CME was receiving favorable treatment.  Ron Trahan moved to allow Gordon to dispose of machinery or vehicles valued at less than $1,000 or less at the Project Managers discretion.  Lloyd Irvine seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

             Under public comment, Ted Hein questioned maintenance on ditches and cleaning of canals.  Gordon Wind said that John Morigeau reminded operators on a weekly basis that cleaning ditches did not mean making them deeper. 

 

             Oliver Dupuis asked for an update on his application to bring land into the Project.  Gordon Wind said that he would respond using existing BIA criteria, since the CME does not currently have its own policy in place.  Oliver Dupuis asked that Gordon send his recommendation to the Flathead Agency Superintendent Chuck Courville, to start the process.  Gordon said he would issue a recommendation to the Superintendent as soon as possible. 

 

             Dick Erb presented a memo he developed on a Moiese quota.  He asked the CME to re-establish the Moiese quota at 1.5 acre feet.  Gordon Wind said that due to Crow restrictions, Moiese irrigators needed to take water as it was available in Crow Creek.  He said that he did not have the reservoir capacity to guarantee or hold water to deliver a guaranteed 1.5 acre foot quota to Moiese.  Dick said that water was available in Tabor, Mission, McDonald and Pablo reservoir for Moiese irrigators. 

 

             The Chairman called a recess at 4:05 pm and the CME entered an executive session at 4:15 pm to discuss personnel and potential litigation issues.  Open session resumed at 5:15 pm. 

 

             Walt Schock moved to table all CME discussion on the development of an operating plan and remand the development of a draft plan to the FJBC and CSKT technical people, along with Gordon Wind of the FIIP.  Lloyd Irvine seconded the motion.  Motion carried unanimously. 

 

             Ron Trahan said he wanted to complement RaLynn Brown and CME staff for paying attention to details such as workmen’s compensation insurance, which saved the CME $30,000. 

 

             The next CME meeting will be May 5, 2011.

 

             The CME meeting adjourned at 5:20 pm.