Groundwater managers across the state are looking to groundwater recharge as a potential solution to their community’s water challenges. However, there are concerns about how groundwater recharge in the age of SGMA actually works and how to ensure sufficient instream flows to protect those beneficial uses.
To address these questions, the Local Government Commission and the Clean Water Fund held a webinar to find out more about recharge, environmental flows, water rights, and permitting from a panel of experts. First, Stacey Sullivan from Sustainable Conservation talked about Flood MAR; next Sam Boland-Brien from the State Water Resources Control Board talked about the Environmental Flows Workgroup and permitting issues for groundwater recharge; and then Pablo Garza with the Environmental Defense Fund discussed policy issues related to groundwater recharge.
Read more at Maven’s Notebook here: GROUNDWATER RECHARGE: Balancing our depleted groundwater supplies and ecosystem needs
““We are real close to defining exactly what stability is and how it is going to affect the valley,” said Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Chair Ron Kicinski to the Rotary Club of China Lake on Wednesday. Kincinksi, who also serves on the IWV Water Board, made it clear he was speaking as a member of the IWVGA.
Specifically, Kicinski said the model at the moment is that sustainability is being defined at using around 12,000 acre-feet a year of water. … ”
Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Banking water for LADWP? Kicinski talks groundwater with Rotary Club
“Close to $3 million worth of water has rushed down the Santa Clara River over the past several weeks to recharge groundwater basins in the Oxnard Plain. The release was part of a deal between the United Water Conservation District and Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency to help recharge aquifers still struggling after years of drought.
United told the Fox Canyon board it could purchase extra water from the California Water Project thanks to a particularly wet winter statewide. Fox Canyon then would buy roughly 15,000 acre-feet of water once it made it to spreading ponds near Oxnard and Camarillo. … ”
Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Close to $3 million of water has reached Ventura County’s overstressed groundwater basin
“The recharging basins near Ming and Allen Rd. are filled with water. It’s a comforting reminder that we’ll be okay during the next drought, but with that security comes with a price.
“We have thousands of acres of surface water that can potentially breed mosquitoes,” Gene Abbott, the manager of Kern Mosquito and Vector Control (KMVC) said. … ”
Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Kern County’s recharging basins come with a pesky price
“The general long-term forecast for California as climate change intensifies: more frequent droughts, intermittently interrupted by years when big storms bring rain more quickly than the water infrastructure can handle. This bipolar weather will have profound implications for the state’s $50 billion agriculture industry and the elaborate network of reservoirs, canals, and aqueducts that store and distribute water. A system built for irrigation and flood protection must adapt to accommodate conservation.
“The effects of climate change are necessitating wholesale changes in how water is managed in California,” the state Department of Water Resources wrote in a June, 2018 white paper. … ”
Read more from the Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the West here: Putting a Tempest into a Teapot: Can California Better Use Winter Storms to Refill its Aquifers?
“As Southern California’s most recent rainstorm was moving into the Inland Empire on Thursday morning, May 23, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District celebrated the completion of an enhanced recharge project designed to enable the district to capture water from Santa Ana River during rainstorms, improving the district’s ability to recharge groundwater supply by 80,000 acre-feet a year.
The district hosted its partners Western Municipal Water District and Riverside Public Utilities as well as other local water agencies for the opening of a new diversion channel and sedimentation basin constructed south of Seven Oaks Dam and just north of Greenspot Road last year. … ”
Read more from Highland Community News here: Stormwater recharge abilities enhanced at Seven Oaks Dam
Ellen Hanak delivers four priorities for managing the implementation of SGMA in the San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley is California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply, producing more than half of the state’s agricultural output. Irrigated agriculture is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user.
However, the San Joaquin Valley is at a pivotal point. It is ground zero for many of California’s most difficult water management problems, including groundwater overdraft, contaminated drinking water, and declines in habitat and native species. The Valley has high rates of unemployment and pockets of extreme poverty, challenges that increase when the farm economy suffers.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local water users to bring their overdrafted groundwater basins into balance by the early 2040s. With the largest groundwater overdraft in the State, the implementation of SGMA will have a broad impact on Valley agriculture in coming years, and will likely entail fallowing of significant amounts of farmland.
“Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley” is the third installment of a research project by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Policy Center on solutions to the San Joaquin Valley’s water challenges. Ellen Hanak is director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a senior fellow at PPIC. At the May meeting of the California Water Commission, she discussed the findings of their research and recommendations regarding the challenges facing the San Joaquin Valley.
Click here to read this article at Maven’s Notebook.
Kathleen Miller writes,
“Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was always going to be tricky. Part of the necessary growing pains of SGMA is determining how the revolutionary statute interacts with traditional tenets of water law. As with any other sweeping legislative change, SGMA does not provide direct answers for every practical question which arises as the law is put into place.
Take SGMA’s so called “six deadly sins” – the undesirable results that newly formed groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) are tasked with avoiding, running the gamut from seawater intrusion to subsidence. One of the ways to combat undesirable results is to implement a more robust groundwater recharge program – diverting high surface water flows during wet years (as we just experienced) to aquifers. In fact, we’ve begun to see innovative projects, such as Recharge Net Metering andFlood-MAR, sprout up in the wake of SGMA to do exactly that. But how do we get water for those projects in the first place? … ”
Read more from the Legal Planet blog here: Groundwater recharge in the SGMA era
“A team of Stanford University researchers believe they have identified the best way to replenish the shrinking aquifers beneath California’s Central Valley. The groundwater beneath the Central Valley has been steadily depleting, particularly as the state’s $50 billion agricultural industry relied on it during a series of droughts. Each year, more water exits the aquifer than goes into it.
The study from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, published in the journal Water Resources Research, found that unless action is taken, the ground in that region will sink more than 13 feet over the next 20 years. … ”
Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: The Central Valley is sinking as farmers drill for water. But it can be saved, study says
“In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure.
The trend – and a 2014 mandate for sustainable groundwater management in the state – has ignited interest in replenishing aquifers in California’s Central Valley through managed flooding of the ground above them. … ”
Read more from Stanford News here: Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater