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Author: Rebecca Quist

Survey conducted with local landowners sheds light on climate and drought perspectives

South Fork Kings GSA is conducting a series of surveys with landowners to better understand groundwater and land use. The first survey was designed to help the GSA understand landowners’ perspectives on how climate and drought impacts their groundwater supply.

Questions answered by respondents included: “On a scale of 0 (no threat) to 5 (greatly threatens), how much do you think climate change threatens your groundwater supply?” and “On a scale of 0 to 5, how would you rate the ability of your groundwater supply to recover from periods of drought?“.

The survey was conducted in June 2021, and results are now available to review on the survey webpage.

Tulare Lake Subbasin will submit grant application for recharge projects in the region

Preparations are being made to apply for round one of the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) SGMA Implementation Grant, available to critically overdrafted subbasins. South Fork Kings GSA will work to submit a letter of support on the Tulare Lake Subbasin’s grant funding application for recharge projects that bring basin-wide benefits.

The Subbasin is currently considering which projects in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, a joint document outlining sustainability in the Tulare Lake Subbasin, to submit for funding. Groundwater recharge projects under consideration are outside of the South Fork Kings GSA but bring a benefit by meeting subbasin-wide sustainability objectives. Groundwater recharge is a primary tactic for improving groundwater conditions by which extra surface water, rainfall and snowmelt, is captured to sink below the soil into the groundwater aquifer.

The SGMA Implementation Grant is funded by Proposition 68, with the first round providing $26 million for critically overdrafted subbasins. The Subbasin has not yet determined its funding request amount. The maximum award is $5 million, and minimum is $2 million.  

Another $77 million will be available in round 2 for medium-priority, high-priority, and critically overdrafted subbasins. The South Fork Kings GSA is in the Tulare Lake Subbasin, designated under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to be critically overdrafted.

Groundwater Data Protection Policy adopted unanimously following committee and public review process

The Groundwater Data Protection Policy was adopted unanimously by the South Fork Kings GSA Board at their December 3, 2020 meeting. The draft was available for a 30-day public comment period beginning October 19 and ending November 18 and was revised under the direction of the Policy Committee after receiving one comment.

The policy outlines the South Fork Kings GSA’s duties and obligations in the process of acquiring data from landowners within its service area, with intent to keep any data collected private to the fullest extent allowed by the law. The South Fork Kings GSA will use publicly available information to learn about groundwater wells and pumping data, while working to engage in cooperative relationships with landowners to gather critical data for successful groundwater management.

Steve Jackson appointed to Policy Committee

The South Fork Kings GSA Board approved the appointment of Steve Jackson to the Policy Committee at its December 3rd meeting. Jackson is involved in ongoing SGMA efforts in the South Fork Kings GSA and serves on the Board of two Tulare Lake Subbasin GSAs, Tri-County Water Authority and Southwest Kings.

The Policy Committee is tasked with the development of policies that will guide the South Fork Kings GSA in its efforts to achieve groundwater sustainability in the area. A Groundwater Data Protection Policy adopted by the Board was developed under the guidance of the Policy Committee. The Committee will continue its work to draft policies in the coming months.

$200,000 Grant Awarded to Support Groundwater Sustainability in the South Fork Kings GSA

The South Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (SFKGSA) along with their technical consultant, Geosyntec Consultants and Kings River Conservation District, successfully obtained a $200,000 grant to support groundwater sustainability activities. Located in a region with variable water supply and susceptible to drought, the California Resilience Challenge grant awarded by the Bay Area Council Foundation will support SFKGSA’s groundwater sustainability by funding an Aquifer Storage and Recovery pilot program and a crucial data collection effort.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) is an innovative groundwater management method used in many parts of the United States to inject water for underground storage to be withdrawn later when surface water is limited, especially during periods of drought.

ASR is ideal for areas where conditions are not ideally suited for putting water back into the ground using recharge basins. Much of the land within the SFKGSA features dense soil types and clay layers making percolation to deeper groundwater zones inefficient. The work associated with the grant will evaluate the feasibility of ASR in the SFKGSA and determine if it is viable to scale with landowners on-farm.

The SFKGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan, a roadmap to sustainable groundwater management, includes ASR as a high priority among the portfolio of projects to bring groundwater supplies into balance. The grant funding will allow the South Fork Kings GSA to conduct a pilot test of ASR and accelerate implementation of this supply-side solution to support groundwater recovery.

In addition to the ASR pilot program, landowner and community outreach will be used to obtain data on groundwater use and irrigation practices. To kick off work on the grant, a survey will be sent to all SFKGSA landowners and community residents in the coming months. The survey will assist in filling in crucial information for a more accurate picture of groundwater use.

The California Resilience Challenge grant is a statewide effort led by businesses, utilities, and a diverse range of partners, to build local and regional climate resilience and to support a shared vision for a resilient California in the face of climate threats, like drought. The South Fork Kings GSA is among twelve diverse, replicable, and innovative climate change adaptation projects across California to receive a grant. To view the other winning projects, click here.

Board Approves $8.71 Assessment, Secures Budget Revenue to Implement the Groundwater Sustainability Plan

The Board approved an assessment of $8.71 per acre for Fiscal Year 2021 at their June 18th meeting. Based on assessable acreage of 71,277.6 acres, this generates a projected revenue of $620,828 for agency administration and professional services to implement the Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The approved assessment is a decrease from the $9.80 per acre assessment collected in the previous fiscal year, which was the maximum amount approved by South Fork Kings GSA landowners in the Proposition 218 assessment election passed in 2018.

Items in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget include $75,324 for administrative costs, $488,948 for professional services including legal expense and technical tasks, and a $35,532 contingency. The remaining balance includes funds to repay member agencies for their start-up contribution to form and administer the South Fork Kings GSA prior to the assessment election revenues.

Especially critical is beginning the process of implementing the tasks and projects outlined in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) adopted earlier this year in January. Professional services to be carried out by the South Fork Kings GSA’s technical consultant, Geosyntec, include work on a groundwater accounting program, a groundwater monitoring program and associated data management system, coordination with surrounding basins, and the initiation of an Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) pilot project, among others. The cost of the ASR pilot project and related stakeholder outreach activities will be offset with the awarding of the California Resiliency Challenge grant (read more).

To view the approved Fiscal Year 2021 budget, click here.

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