New recharge basin increases Fresno Irrigation District's storage capacity

The Savory Groundwater Recharge Basin at Chestnut and Lincoln is already storing water.

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Saturday, August 20, 2022
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The next time California experiences a wet year, the Fresno Irrigation District will be in a better position to collect flood runoff.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- We may be dealing with a third year of drought, but at some point, we will experience a wet year again.

When that happens, the Fresno Irrigation District will be in a better position to collect flood runoff.

The state is urging water agencies to develop more groundwater basins to capture floodwater when heavy rains finally return.

The Fresno Irrigation District's newest one has been put to immediate use.

The Savory Groundwater Recharge Basin at Chestnut and Lincoln is already storing water.

The 30-acre plot is strategically located next to the Fresno Irrigation District's Oleander Canal, which sends water to users but can now move excess floodwater and recharge the new underground aquifer.

"We can take stormwater, floodwater off the Kings watershed, the San Joaquin watershed, local creeks and even urban pumping and we can bring it down the canal and dump it into the basins here," says Fresno Irrigation District (FID)'s general manager Bill Stretch.

From high above, you can see some of the ag land which will benefit from the new groundwater basin.

A more reliable water supply means farmers won't have to pump as much water from their wells.

But the system is designed to help the entire community, including those living in the nearby Shady Lakes Mobile Home Park.

"They rely solely on well water so having a groundwater recharge project right next to it, that's going to improve the volume and the quality of that water supply for them," says Stretch.

Neighbors with domestic wells will also benefit.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires agencies to develop sustainable groundwater practices.

"It essentially charged us of doing things different. Getting us to a point where we were managing our groundwater and not creating conditions where we're going to be in chronic overdraft," says Kassy Chauhan with the North Kings Groundwater Agency.

With drought periods becoming more intense and more common, the basin plays an important role in FID.

"Groundwater is becoming more and more of an important buffer and we need to have that kind of capacity to have more groundwater available," says Jorge Baca with the Department of Water Resources.

Stretch figures this basin has the capacity to store 900-acre feet of water a year.

The project was paid for by Proposition 68 funding and a $1.2 million grant from the State Department of Water Resources.