POSTPONED!!!! Panel: Is there a way for all sides to “win” in the Kern River fight?

March 2, 2022
by Lois Henry
SOURCE: Bring Back the Kern
Lois Henry

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Scheduling conflicts have waylaid this panel for some time. Please check back here or on the Bring Back the Kern site.




The local grassroots group, Bring Back the Kern, will host a series of roundtable discussions to look at ways to restore the Kern River through Bakersfield and still satisfy the needs of agriculture.

“The Kern River isn’t the only river in California to be dried up by water diversions. Others have been dried up, but in many instances stakeholders on other rivers have found ways to restore flowing water to dried up rivers with long term win-win solutions,” according to a press release from Bring Back the Kern.

Organizers said they would be inviting key personnel from the agricultural water districts that have ownership or use rights to the river in order to find common ground.

“I appreciate Bring Back the Kern for bringing together diverse perspectives to the table to discuss how we might find collaborative solutions for the Kern River water availability issues,” Dave Hampton, General Manager of North Kern Water Storage District, wrote in an email.

North Kern and the City of Bakersfield are locked in a battle over rights to a portion of water that was deemed forfeit by another ag water district. Bakersfield has pledged to run the water down the river bed and Bring Back the Kern is supporting that effort. North Kern has said the forfeited water doesn’t constitute “new” water on the river and has already been taken up by junior rights holders, which the district says is the “law of the river,” or long-standing custom for how water is doled out on the Kern River.

“For solutions to be workable we need to find a healthy balance between all of the many beneficial uses of the Kern River water,” Hampton continued. “We look forward to providing our perspective on the opportunities we see to reach that delicate balance while adhering to the law of the river all water users must follow.”

The first “River Roundtable” session will be held March 29 beginning at 5:15 p.m. via Zoom and focus on Putah Creek in northern California, according to Bring Back the Kern’s press release.

The Putah Creek is about half the size of the Kern River in annual flows and brings water east out of the coastal range through Solano and Yolo Counties into the Sacramento River.

In the late 1980s, the combination of drought and water diversions dried up more than 20 miles of riverbed. Over the next decade, community members created the Putah Creek Accord to protect agricultural and municipal water rights while also establishing minimum flows for the river, ensuring that even in drought years, the waterway will never dry up again, according to the release.

To explain how this all happened, Bring Back the Kern has invited several key panelists:

  • Roland Sanford, General Manager of Solano County Water Agency.
    –  Sanford was instrumental in the formation of the agreement and is now responsible for its continued success. He has gone from being a skeptic to becoming a leading proponent of the Putah Creek Accord
  • Joe Krovoza, former Chair of the Putah Creek Council and former Mayor of the City of Davis
    – Krovoza was on the Putah Creek Council when it was formed and was closely involved in the fight to restore and protect Putah Creek from ever going dry again
  • Karrigan Bork, UC Davis Professor of Law
    – Bork is a leading scholar of the Public Trust Doctrine and Fish and Game Code 5937, two laws that were pivotal in restoring flows to Putah Creek

For inquiries about the River Roundtable series, interested persons may contact Tim McNeely at

Attendees may register for the free session atwww.bringbackthekern.orgThe discussion will be moderated by local radio host Richard Beene.The session will be recorded.

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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