MEETING NOTES: Kern water districts look at joining forces to fix domestic wells and study sinking along the Friant-Kern Canal

March 18, 2024
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
by Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
CVP: Central Valley Project. CVC: Cross Valley Canal. KCWA SWP: Kern County Water Agency, State Water Project.
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water
Sonia Lemus, freelance for SJV Water

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* “Meeting Notes” is a new feature focused on Kern County water districts, funded through a grant from the James B. McClatchy Foundation. Please consider supporting SJV Water to continue this important coverage.



Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District board of directors

Arvin-Edison board of directors

Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa board of directors

Cawelo Water District  board of directors


Date: March 12-14, 2024

Rosedale Rio-Bravo Packet: CLICK HERE

Arvin Edison Agenda: CLICK HERE

Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Packet: CLICK HERE

Cawelo Agenda: CLICK HERE

Major topic: Proposals for the Kern Subbasin 


The Kern subbasin, composed of 22 water entities across the valley portion of Kern County, is working on a groundwater sustainability plan its members hope will be accepted by the State Water Resources Control Board after the subbasin’s initial plan was deemed inadequate.

Currently the subbasin has two main objectives.

One is partnering with Self-Help Enterprises to assist with the administration of a program to fix domestic wells harmed by over pumping.

The other is gathering support among the 22 entities to participate in the Friant-Kern Canal subsidence study.

Proposed partnership: Under the proposal, Self-Help  would assist with subbasin’s well issues in several ways. It would:

  • Distribute two weeks worth of bottled water to homes that lose water.
  • Conduct onsite well assessments.
  • Install water tanks at homes where wells go dry.
  • Assist with financing the well-owner’s cost-share for services.

During Arvi-Edison Water Storage District’s meeting, it was stated that all 22 entities will want to work with Self-Help. But Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District stated not all entities within the subbasin will join, notably the smaller entities that don’t encompass lands with domestic wells.

Action: Arvin-Edison, Rosedale-Rio Bravo and Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa all agreed to sign on to join the letter of intent to engage Self-Help.

Subsidence study: The second proposal for the subbasin to participate in the cost studying subsidence issues along the Friant-Kern Canal. The canal has sunk due to overpumping in the Pixley area, north of the Kern County border.

That sag has reduced the canal’s carrying capacity by 60%. But continued pumping has continued to sink land even on the recently repaired section of the canal.

Friant Water Authority, which operates the canal, sued the groundwater agency that covers the area of the worst subsidence.

Several Kern subbasin water districts receive water from the Friant-Kern Canal. But many of Kern’s 22 entities do not receive water from the canal and pumping in those districts wouldn’t impact the canal.

During Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa’s meeting directors said that North Kern Water Storage District and Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District have agreed to take the lead on the study contract and arrange cost share agreements among the entities within the subbasin who do wish to participate. Both districts receive water from the Friant-Kern Canal.

Directors in the  Arvin-Edison and Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa districts stated that even though their districts also wouldn’t have a great impact on the canal, they would  participate in the study to have coordination throughout the subbasin. 

At the Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa board meeting one member asked if it would be possible to have entities in the oil and gas industry help pay for the study.

Sheridan Nicholas, General Manager of Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa, said that would not be likely to happen.

The total cost for the study is about $120,000. The cost share between each entity will be better determined after the subbasin sees how many entities join.

Action: Rosedale Rio-Bravo, Arvin-Edison, Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa, and Cawelo all approved joining the cost share for the Friant-Kern Canal subsidence study.

How to attend: 

Rosedale-Rio Bravo meets at 8 a.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at its district office, 849 Allen Road.

Arvin-Edison Water Storage District meets at 12 p.m. on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at its office, 20401 E. Bear Mountain Blvd., or online via Microsoft Teams using the Meeting ID: 286 409 917 101 and Passcode: LbHxDa

Wheeler Ridge meets at 8 a.m. on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at its office, 12109 Hwy 166, or online at 

Cawelo Water District meets at 9 a.m. on the 2nd Thursday of each month at its office, 17207 Industrial Farm Road, or online via Zoom using the Meeting ID: 813 8284 0698 and Passcode: 424688, or via this link.

Sonia Lemus, freelance for 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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