A slew of workshops and presentations set to educate and hear from Tulare County residents about Kaweah groundwater challenges

June 18, 2024
Lisa McEwen, SJV Water
by Lisa McEwen, SJV Water
The Kaweah subbasin in the northern half of Tulare County's flatlands has been recommended for probation. Its hearing is set for Nov. 5 before the state Water Resources Control Board
Lisa McEwen, SJV Water
Lisa McEwen, SJV Water


Virtual Workshop
June 24, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Staff will begin accepting public comments at 12:15 PM
Zoom link:
English and Spanish webcast of the virtual staff workshop with closed captioning will be available at video.calepa.ca.gov. If you wish to ask a question or make a comment, please join using the Zoom link. 

In-person only workshop
June 27, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sequoia High School (Multi-Purpose Room), 1040 N. Woodland Ave., Visalia, CA
Staff will begin accepting public comments at 7 p.m.
Spanish interpretation will be available at both workshops.

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Tulare County residents who want to express their opinions about possible state intervention in groundwater management to members of the State Water Board will have a chance to do so next week.

State water board staff will hold two public workshops June 24 (virtual) and June 27 (in person) in Visalia to explain its draft report recommending probation, what it means and how the state intervention in the Kaweah subbasin would work. 

The draft report recommends probation for the region, which includes the cities of Woodlake and Porterville in the east, and Visalia, Tulare and a small portion of Hanford to the west. Subsidence, in which land irreversibly collapses due to groundwater overdraft, was one of the key reasons for the probation recommendation. That was also the case for the Tulare Lake subbasin and Tule subbasin, which border the Kaweah. 

The state Water Board voted unanimously April 16 to put the Tulare Lake subbasin on probation.The Tule subbasin’s probation hearing is set for Sept. 17. 

Kaweah’s hearing is Nov. 5. Probation is the first step toward state takeover of local pumping. Under probation, the state can require wells to be registered and metered and charge fees for every acre foot pumped. Farmers in the Tulare Lake subbasin, which covers most of Kings County, must start reporting extractions to state staff July 15.

Managers of the Kaweah subbasin’s three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies have taken note of their neighbors’ plight and after a rocky start are working on a new groundwater plan that is coordinated, a requirement of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). 

Mid-Kaweah GSA interim manager Aaron Fukuda said one of the goals of next week’s workshops is to educate landowners who might appear before the state water board.

“If they come to workshops, we project the fact that we are communicating, organized, and on the right track by doing the hard work of having a GSP,” he said during a June 18 advisory committee meeting. “I think we have a decent opportunity to avoid probation if we can convey the message that we have done what we have been asked to do.”

Rachel Glauser, executive director of Delta View Water Association, said growers reliant on groundwater for their operations are pleased with the new plan.

“At this stage in the game, we want to support the success of the entire subbasin and do what we can to maintain local control over groundwater management,” she wrote in an email. “Thankfully, the Kaweah GSAs have been extremely well-coordinated and we’re hopeful that an additional layer of grower fees by way of state intervention, will be avoided.” 

This coordinated effort will continue at the upcoming workshops in water managers’ bid to avoid probation in November. East Kaweah GSA manager Mike Hagman said that the three GSA managers will provide an approximately 45-minute presentation at both workshops, where they will discuss their newly issued revised groundwater plan. 

“This will be really helpful to us,” he said.

The revised plan includes a new subbasin-wide domestic well mitigation program in partnership with Self-Help Enterprises, the first in the state. 

The agencies are also holding a “State of the Subbasin” outreach event June 19 at the International Agri-Center and online June 20.

Written comments about the Kaweah subbasin draft staff report also will be accepted until noon on Monday, July 8.

Lisa McEwen, SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


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