Reported groundwater storage declines highlight the importance of developing infrastructure to capture and recharge surface water in wet years to offset groundwater pumping in dry years
The North Kings GSA, together with the six other GSAs in the Kings Subbasin submitted the second Annual Report to the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) by the April 1, 2021 deadline. Dryer conditions in water year 2020 (Sept 2019 – Oct 2020) resulted in less surface water deliveries across the Kings Subbasin and a higher dependence on groundwater to meet demand. Groundwater storage decreased an estimated 550,000 acre-feet subbasin wide compared to the storage increase of 210,000 acre-feet reported in the previous year’s Annual Report.
Although a dry year, North Kings GSA member agencies were still able to deliver an estimated 441,700 acre-feet of surface water supply thanks to strategic management and carry-over storage from the prior wet year. The table below indicates the percent of historical diversions for water years 2015-2020 on the Kings River, the majority surface water source for the Kings Subbasin.
The 2020 dry conditions are not a surprise to the North Kings GSA, who in their Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) planned for fluctuations in surface water supply availability. The report underscores the relevant goal of the GSA and its member agencies to develop projects even during dry years in preparation to capture and recharge high flows during wet years. Increasing recharge capacity creates a buffer of groundwater supply for use during dry years including this one, with Kings River runoff projected to be 27% of average for the April-July period.
The North Kings GSA member agencies are taking steps in that direction to prepare for a resilient water supply while achieving sustainability.
This last year, the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) acquired and began construction on 150 acres of new groundwater recharge basins.
The Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District secured funding for a flood control basin that will recharge water during summer months to help achieve sustainability while improving groundwater levels for a nearby disadvantaged community.
Two additional recharge projects, FID’s Savory Pond and City of Kerman’s Lyons Park Basin, recently received $1.4 million in grant funding from DWR that will add an additional 1,035 acre-feet of annual recharge capacity.
In addition, the City of Fresno saw its first full year of operation at its Southeast Surface Water Treatment Plant helping significantly reduce the City’s dependence on groundwater. The City’s shift to using more surface water to meet its demands is the most significant change to groundwater/surface water use in the area for the last 40+ years.
The North Kings GSA and its member agencies will continue to execute projects that lead the region to groundwater sustainability for its landowners and residents, preparing to strategically capture excess surface water supply in future wet periods.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires GSAs to submit annual reports to DWR on April 1 of every year. The report includes an overview of groundwater conditions, surface water supply, water use, and progress updates on implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). View the full report on our website here.