The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced its positive recommendation for all seven Kings Subbasin GSPs on Thursday, March 2, during a DWR briefing
Kassy Chauhan, North Kings GSA Executive Officer
March 6, 2023
FRESNO, CA – The seven Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plans, including the North Kings GSA’s, were recommended for approval on Thursday, March 2, by DWR. This is a significant milestone following GSP revisions in response to DWR’s incomplete determination issued in January 2022.
“The Kings Subbasin put cooperation as its highest priority during GSP revisions last year,” stated Kassy Chauhan, North Kings GSA’s Executive Officer. “We came together with a shared goal to keep local control by fully addressing the State’s comments and concerns with our initial go at the GSPs, and that hard work and coordination paid off.”
The Kings Subbasin GSPs were first developed and submitted to DWR in January 2020, a required deadline for critically overdrafted basins in the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) law. Following a two-year review period, DWR determined the GSPs were incomplete and required revisions by July 2022 – all of which were sufficiently addressed to receive the recommended approval.
During the revisions process between January and July 2022, the North Kings GSA staff met frequently with its six Kings Subbasin partners and technical consultants, including DWR in several of its meetings to ensure revisions were on the right track.
Despite the unknown status of the GSP throughout the review and revisions process it has always been clear that the start line for implementation was crossed on November 21, 2019, the Board adoption date of the first GSP iteration.
Groundwater Sustainability Plans are a region’s roadmap to achieve sustainability. They are required by the SGMA law and include existing data and information about the Plan area, establish sustainability metrics and criteria, and outline the path (projects and management actions) to achieve sustainability.
One key theme in DWR’s March 2nd announcement was that many GSAs, like the North Kings, have done an outstanding job to date at pushing forward projects in their GSPs to achieve sustainability.
Chauhan affirmed that “the North Kings GSA has not been waiting on an ‘okay’ from the State. We hit the ground running as soon as the GSP was adopted in November of 2019, knowing there will be many iterations as the years pass and we collect more data, understand our groundwater better, and start to see the positive impact of our projects.“
Since January 2020, the North Kings GSA has increased its recharge basin footprint by 500 acres, with more in the works. North Kings GSA’s member agency Fresno Irrigation District (FID) has added 150 of those acres to its 890-acre recharge basin project portfolio. FID has acquired an additional 375 acres of land for nine future basins with the capacity to capture an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water for recharge.
Recharge basins provide significant benefits for groundwater quantity and quality, proving their value during wet years in our Valley like this one by sinking high quality surplus surface water into the aquifer.
The recommended approval from DWR specified the official approval will come with more corrective actions for the GSPs, but they will not need to be addressed until the periodic 5-year GSP update due in January 2025. Until then, the North Kings GSA and its Kings Subbasin partners will continue its work toward sustainability by developing projects to benefit growers, domestic well owners, residents, and businesses, while working with these stakeholders on successful local groundwater management.
Stay informed on the latest North Kings GSA project efforts by signing up for the email distribution list at www.northkingsgsa.org/email. To learn more about SGMA and FID’s recharge basin development, visit their new SGMA page at www.fresnoirrigation.com/sgma.
The Kings Subbasin is located in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley and comprised of seven Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): Central Kings, James, Kings River East, McMullin Area, North Fork Kings, North Kings, and South Kings. The GSAs are implementing individual Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) and operate under a Coordination Agreement to achieve groundwater sustainability together by 2040 under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), signed into law in 2014. The entire Kings Subbasin was recommended for GSP approval.