MEETING NOTES: More Kern water districts approve new groundwater plan in hopes of avoiding state intervention

May 17, 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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Arvin-Edison board of directors

Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa board of directors

Shafter – Wasco Irrigation District Board of Directors

Date: May 14 through 15, 2024

Arvin-Edison Water Storage District Agenda: CLICK HERE

Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Packet: CLICK HERE

Shafter-Wasco Agenda: CLICK HERE

Major topic: Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District, Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, and Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District all met this week to pass five motions in relation to a new Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) that water managers in the Kern subbasin hope to submit to the state Water Resources Control Board staff by May 28.

Their goal is to provide a plan that meets the state requirements under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to bring the subbasin’s overdrafted aquifer into balance by 2040. Kern’s previous two GSPs were rejected by the state, which has set a probationary hearing for the subbasin for January 2025.

Being put on probation is the first step toward the state possibly taking control of groundwater pumping, setting allotments, fees and issuing fines. Kern water managers hope to ward off that eventuality with this new plan, which includes a new domestic well program and programs to stem subsidence and chronic aquifer depletion.

First, all 20 of Kern’s groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) need to approve the new plan. That was the focus of the boards at Wheeler Ridge, Arvin-Edison and Shafter-Wasco.

They voted on five separate motions to authorize: 

  • Final draft amendments of the GSP and their submission to the Water Board and the GSP’s release for public review.
  • Notification to cities and counties of intent to adopt a GSP.
  • Execution of a new coordinating agreement among the subbasin GSA’s.
  • Execution of a new Joint Powers Agreement for Kern Non-Districted Land Authority. This relates to lands not covered by agricultural water districts that rely almost exclusively on groundwater.
  • A memorandum of understanding between Kern Water Collaborative and GSAs in the Kern subbasin.

At the Arvin-Edison meeting several members of the board questioned what would happen if some of the GSAs in the subbasin don’t approve all the motions?

Jeevan Muhar, Engineer-Manager of Arvin-Edison,  said he was certain every member of the subbasin would most likely approve all the motions. However, if one member did not approve one or more of the motions they would need to bring their concerns before the whole subbasin. The subbasin would then work to come to an agreement.

The subbasin will be submitting seven identical plans to the Water Board. 

The individual plans will highlight unique programs in their particular areas to show how that specific GSA is a “good actor.”  Essentially, what the GSA has done in response to deficiencies noted in the first two plans that failed state evaluations.

The goal is for all the plans to be coordinated toward common goals. Plans will be submitted for: the Kern Subbasin (the main GSP); Buena Vista GSA; Henry Miller GSA; Kern-Tulare GSA; Olcese GSA; Westside GSA; and a last minute addition of a separate plan from Semitropic GSA. 

Action: All of the districts passed all five of the resolutions.

How to attend: 

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 

Shafter Wasco meets at 9 am on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at its office, Corner of Highway 43 and Kimberlina Road

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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