Fresno water district plans to use a $5 million federal grant to sink more water

May 17, 2024
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
During the 2023 floods, the Department of Water Resources set up temporary diversion equipment to help the Fresno Irrigation District recharge flood water from the Kings River as seen in this April 2023 photo. Credit / DWR
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Jesse Vad, SJV Water

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Fresno Irrigation District (FID) received $5 million from the federal government for recharge projects. It’s the largest grant FID has ever received and staff were overjoyed when they heard the news. 

“We were elated,” said Bill Stretch, general manager of FID. “That’s a huge shot in the arm for the district. And it helps us fast track our plan to build out our future recharge basins.”

The funding comes from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program which funds projects for drought response and planning 

The money for FID will go toward building two new recharge basins totaling 115 acres, said Stretch. 

Increasing groundwater supplies has become a top priority for both agricultural and municipal water districts as regions with critically overdrafted aquifers – which includes the entire San Joaquin Valley – struggle to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The act, known as SGMA, mandates overdrafted regions bring their aquifers into balance by 2040.

Over the past 20 years, FID has built about 940 acres of recharge basins. It has also partnered with other local water agencies for recharge project collaboration.

There are about 140 recharge basins within FID, some owned by the City of Kerman, Malaga County Water District, Pinedale County Water District and Biola Community Services District. All those basins total about 2,700 acres, said Stretch. 

The new basins will be built in 2-3 years, said Stretch. The two new basins are expected to add about 2,350 acre feet of water to recharge efforts in an average year, he added. 

After last year’s historic storms and snowpack, the district recharged 180,000 acre feet, said Stretch. But in the future, staff hope to exceed that number and blow past 200,000 acre feet once more recharge facilities are in operation. 

FID has purchased about 350 acres of land for future recharge projects. That includes the 115 acres for the two funded basins. Stretch estimates it will take 5-10 years and $40 million to build out the entire 350 acres. 

Jesse Vad, 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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