To help fund a project to bring water from the Mokelumne River to replenish groundwater supplies on lands south of the river, the North San Joaquin County Water Conservation District Board is seeking public input on how to proceed with the project, according to board president Joe Valente.
Groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley – producer of half the state’s agricultural output – has averaged roughly 1.8 million acre-feet annually since the mid-1980s. Even before the start of the most recent drought in 2011, a few San Joaquin farmers recognized the dire need for sustainable water management and started individually pioneering a groundwater recharge practice that has since gained statewide traction.
“A court ruling issued Wednesday could throw up obstacles to operation of a Kern County groundwater bank that has helped billionaire Stewart Resnick build a nut empire in the southern San Joaquin Valley.”
“Then something bigger happened: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor said that 340,000 acre-feet of water stored at San Luis Reservoir on behalf of west-side farmers would be released to them for use during the growing season.”
“West Valley farmers spent $150 million last year buying some water and storing it in San Luis Reservoir. They were planning ahead for a zero water allocation from the federal Central Valley Project this year.”
“With the state extremely dry, the farmers fear federal officials could effectively seize for other purposes the water set aside primarily in San Luis Reservoir on the valley’s west side. Affected farmers say that would be wrong. Unfortunately for them, it might also be legal.”
From The Bakersfield Californian, in a commentary by Lois Henry:
“So, a pile of water banked in Kern County is being used to support a massive urban development in Madera County.
“Before you try and wrap your head around how that’s geographically possible, there’s the whole question of whether the banked water (and other water slated for the project) even can be used for that purpose.”
“More than two decades ago, two water distributors came up with a tantalizing idea to increase reserves in parched Southern California: Create an underground lake so vast it could hold enough to blanket Los Angeles — all 469 square miles — under a foot of water.
“The message is clear: We must do more to prepare for increasingly harmful dry years by capturing more water in wet years. In short, California needs a lot more water storage – and we need it now. … California’s Legislature also must do its part by updating the long-anticipated water bond and ensuring that it includes adequate funding for water storage.”