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Proposed groundwater bank sparks legal challenge

 •  by Lois Henry
The Palms Project started as a groundwater recharge project for Buena Vista Water Storage District, which is seeking to convert it to a banking project where water is pumped out as well. It recently annexed lands, the pink section in the upper right portion of the photo, where it intends to drill seven wells. The pink section in the lower left is the Palms' existing recharge ponds. SOURCE: Buena Vista's Palms Project environmental impact report.

A battle of groundwater banks is underway in Kern County with accusations that one is poised to mine the local aquifer and sell water outside the area.

The two main combatants are the massive Kern Water Bank, which covers 32-square miles straddling Interstate 5 west of Bakersfield, and the Buena Vista Water Storage District, which covers 50,000 acres between I5 and the California Aqueduct stretching from Tupman north to Lerdo Highway.

The two entities are locked in a larger legal fight over Kern River water, which also features in this latest scuffle.

The Kern Water Bank sued the Kern Local Agency Formation Commission in June for approving Buena Vista’s request to annex lands and increase its sphere of influence to cover a proposed well field northeast of its existing 1,150-acre water recharge ponds known as the Palms Project.

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Lois Henry
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