Kings River Conservation District (KRCD) Board announced on July 13, 2021, the appointment of David M. Merritt as KRCD’s new general manager. “I am very excited to lead this next chapter of KRCD and greatly appreciate the trust the Board of Directors has in me and look forward to working with and leading our team,” Merritt said.

Mr. Merritt started his tenure with KRCD in 2010 as the Deputy General Manager of Power Resources. Through his leadership, KRCD successfully divested its gas turbine power generation facility, the Malaga Peaking Plant, in 2015. Mr. Merritt has further improved the long-term reliability of its Jeff L. Taylor Pine Flat Power Plant, which is a key KRCD asset. In 2015, Mr. Merritt took over senior leadership of the Federal Levee Project along the Lower Kings River, which KRCD is the local sponsor. Mr. Merritt has also brought a vision to the Fisheries Management Program and continues to lead KRCD’s role in partnership with other key stakeholders. In 2019, Mr. Merritt was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, overseeing all KRCD activities, inclusive of Water Resources, Power Generation, Flood Management, and Business Operations. Mr. Merritt has also overseen the completion of several grant projects that have received numerous awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Merritt will succeed Paul Peschel, who resigned as general manager in February of this year. “There are significant opportunities ahead of us concerning power generation, water resources, and flood management. My vision is to build on our past successes, collaboratively working with all stakeholders finding common ground that are proactive win-win solutions, on a long-term basis,” Merritt said.

Merritt is also the Vice President of Western Turbine Users, Inc., a nonprofit organization and worldwide membership organization founded in 1990, supporting the gas turbine industry. Prior to working with KRCD, Merritt worked for GWF Power Systems, an Independent Power Producer for almost 20 years. He was part of the management team overseeing nine power generation facilities in Northern and Central California. He honorably served in the US Navy and attended UC Irvine with a focus on Business, Organizational Leadership, and Communication.  

On June 24, KRCD was honored with the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Region 9 Outstanding Sustainable Engineering Project award along with Provost & Pritchard for the design and construction of the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture and Recharge project.

KRCD and Provost & Pritchard, in cooperation with Terranova Ranch Inc., and Bach and Associates, have planned and developed a system that will further groundwater sustainability in the region.

Terranova Ranch, Inc. has captured and utilized flood flows in the Fresno Slough when they are present, thereby reducing downstream flood impacts. The water has been spread on crop lands such as vineyards, alfalfa, and pistachios for in lieu groundwater recharge, wherein surface water is substituted for groundwater to reduce pumping. More recently, Terranova Ranch has captured flood flows for direct recharge (Bach and et al 2012; 2014).

Using existing farmlands to capture and recharge flood flows allows ranch management to continue their farming practices and replenish the groundwater table. 

With the implementation of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, projects like the one at Terranova Ranch will mean the difference between farming and fallowing lands.

A goal of the McMullin On-Farm Flood Capture and Recharge project is to convey water in both directions east and north, while having the ability to divert flood flows from the west. The design of this project includes the main conveyance system which provides the hydraulic backbone for diverting flood flows and conveyance to the participating farm fields.

On November 13, 2020, the Kings River Conservation District and Tulare Lake Resource Conservation District received over $1 million from the Watershed Restoration Grant to carry out important levee work along the Kings River. The California Department of Conservation grant is funding the Kings River Conservation District Improvement Project, a project that involves the removal of invasive plant species, overgrown brush, and debris from the Kings River’s banks and channels.

This work will provide flood protection to adjacent farmlands, allow for the efficient conveyance of flood water, and save an estimated 1,610 tons of carbon emissions in the Central Valley.

On April 5, 2021, work began on the project. Pascoe Bowen, KRCD’s Manager of Flood Operations and Maintenance, provided the following statement:

 

I am pleased to announce that on Monday we began our first full day of trash cleanup along the Kings River. Labor Finders has provided us with [two] temporary workers. After only one day we have already removed more than 1000 pounds of trash and taken it to the Kings Recycling Waste Authority… It’s great to see this project getting started and it’s already having a positive effect on the river system.

 

For more details about the Watershed Restoration Project, watch the video below.