Frequently Asked Questions

What is an acre-foot?

One acre foot equals 326,700 gallons of water. Picture a football field (approximately one acre) covered one- foot deep in water.

Does agriculture use most of the water in California?

This is a myth. According to the California Water Plan, developed by the California Department of Water Resources, the environment actually uses the most water, at 48 percent. Agriculture uses 41 percent and urban use is 11 percent.

Why is the Delta so important?

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is the most important area in California’s water supply. More than 25 million Californians, including a large portion of Los Angeles, receive their water from this area. More than 2.5 million acres of farmland is irrigated with Delta water. It is also the largest natural estuary in California where an abundance of wildlife lives. For numerous reasons, the Delta levees are sinking and in danger of failing which would be an epic disaster for California.

Many efforts are underway to rehabilitate the Delta and to find solutions to continue to provide water for wildlife, homes, businesses and farms but there are many political issues involved in implementing these solutions. All Californians should become informed about options to fix the Delta.

Do farmers receive subsidized water?

Farmers pay full cost for the water that they pump out of the ground, from the Kern River and from the State Water Project (California Aqueduct, etc.). Farmers and others who receive water from the State Water Project also pay the full construction costs of the facilities. These groups also pay full cost of the water that they are entitled to from the state, even if they do not receive the water – either due to drought or regulatory restrictions.

Water from federal projects such as the Central Valley Project (Friant-Kern Canal) was authorized by Congress to exempt farm water users from paying interest charges on the construction of the project. All other costs, including construction, maintenance and operations are borne by the water users, who are mainly farmers. Current contracts require construction costs to be repaid by 2030. Friant contractors have already paid those costs.

Does Kern County sell water to out-of-town interests?

There are many ways that Kern’s water managers obtain water and money for water. In some cases, water districts in Kern bank (store water underground) for out-of-town water users, then deliver that water to them when it is needed. These programs provide funding for local districts who use it to build new facilities or to obtain more water.

Who has rights to the Kern River?

  • First point users are: The City of Bakersfield, North Kern Water District, Kern Delta Water District
  • Second point users: Buena Vista Water Storage District
  • Lower River: Kern County Water Agency
  • South Fork users: several individuals and private entities with land above Isabella Reservoir

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions about water quality, visit the Cal Water website.

Water Fact

California grows 43 percent of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables and more than 90 percent of its almonds, grapes, and broccoli. California farmers need water to grow food.

Join the Water Association of Kern County

Help support education, outreach and information about water issues in Kern County.

The Water Association of Kern County is embarking upon a new, stronger effort to educate the general public about water issues that effect Kern County. A newly designed website, videos, Facebook and Twitter are all methods that will be used as a way of reaching the public. Messages will be simple and clear and provide many sources of information about water so that citizens  and policy makers can become informed and be better decision makers. Learn More ▸

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