Since the Fresno/Clovis area was settled, most of the water supply for its people and businesses has come from the groundwater aquifer. Decades of reliance on groundwater has created a condition of groundwater overdraft. We have historically taken out more water than we have put back. Though supply has changed due to the Cities’ construction of surface water treatment plants to take pressure off of the groundwater aquifer, significant demand is still put on our groundwater supply. As population grows – now at roughly 700,000 in Fresno and Clovis – counting storm and surface water as the precious resources they are is more important than ever.
Replenishment through recharge
Our area’s groundwater overdraft would be even more serious, if not for the decades of inter-agency collaboration to constantly put water back in the ground. Groundwater supplies are recharged using surface water from rain and from the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers.
Rain that falls on the Fresno/Clovis area is moved through a network of pipelines to the 155 District stormwater basins throughout the urban area, where it slowly percolates through the soil to the groundwater aquifer.
Kings and San Joaquin River surface water allocations of the Cities of Clovis and Fresno, and Bakman Water Company are moved through Fresno Irrigation District canals to more than 90 stormwater basins, for the purpose of groundwater recharge.
Shown below are the 15 years’ worth of storm and surface water volumes recharged in District basins. Keeping precious water in our area for future use is an important function of the District’s urban basin system. The collaborative work done with the Cities of Clovis and Fresno, Bakman Water Company, and the Fresno Irrigation District contributes significantly to the volume of groundwater returned to the aquifer, and is part of the year-round, multi-agency effort to replenish groundwater supplies.
An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons, and would be enough to cover an acre in a foot of water. In 2020, District basins recharged 48,139 acre feet of water – over 15 billion gallons! As of March 2021, average daily per capita residential water use in Fresno was 84 gallons and 105 gallons in Clovis (State Water Resources Control Board). This average does not include commercial, industrial institutional or municipal use. Looking at just that one year provides a point of reference and helps show the significance of the groundwater recharge accomplished in District basins.
State legislation to fix groundwater overdraft – SGMA
Groundwater overdraft is a serious issue in many California regions. The State’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA) requires local governments to form regional Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) to write and implement plans to get their hydrologic basins and sub-basins out of groundwater overdraft, and into balance between the amount of groundwater pumped out and the amount returned through groundwater recharge.
The District lands lie within the newly formed North Kings GSA, and the District was an active participant in its regional planning and outreach to help reverse our area’s groundwater overdraft. It is also an active participant in implementing groundwater recharge projects within its service area. Visit www.northkingsgsa.org to view the North Kings GSA Groundwater Sustainability Plan submitted to the Department of Water Resources in January 2020. Learn about groundwater conditions in our area, which is identified by the State as the Kings Sub-Basin, and get SGMA basics from the ‘Groundwater and You‘ fact sheet (English and Spanish). There are seven GSAs within the Kings Sub-Basin, and all will work collaboratively to bring groundwater supplies and use into balance over the next several years. Visit the website to check which GSA you’re in, and join the e-mail list to get news and updates.
The public is encouraged to ask questions and get involved through regular public meetings. Meeting dates and agendas for the North Kings GSA Board, Advisory and Technical Committee meetings are posted on the website. North Kings GSA is also on Facebook.
Population rises, depth to groundwater falls
As the population of Fresno and Clovis has grown, the depth to groundwater has become markedly lower. These charts use data provided by the Cities of Fresno and Clovis, and show that relationship. Daily efforts by every water user to use less water are critical to ensuring a stable water supply for future generations.
For information on the City of Fresno’s “…program to improve its pipelines and water system facilities that will capture, treat and deliver water to Fresno homes and businesses, including surface water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains”, visit www.rechargefresno.com.