Water Banking

Nobody does water banking better than Kern County

When it comes to water banking, nobody does it better than Kern County. Because of it’s unique geographical and geological make-up, Kern County has the ability to store water in the underground during wet years, for use during dry years. (Think of a bathtub full of sand where water can percolate and stay put until it is withdrawn.)

According to the Kern County Water Agency, the Kern County portion of the San Joaquin Valley’s groundwater basin has about 10 million acre-feet of total available storage capacity. Between 1977 and 2005, Kern County invested more than $300 million to build its groundwater banking infrastructure. The banks can store 5.7 million acre feet (af) of water to recharge or store water during wet years, and through pumping, extract water for use during dry years. Since 1978, more than 3.4 million af of water has been recovered for use.

Equally important, through the various water districts, agencies and municipalities, Kern County is able to transport this groundwater to areas in need through a complicated series of canals, pumping stations and conveyance facilities.

Approximately 800 production wells and 200 monitoring wells are measured for groundwater levels on a semiannual basis within the Kern sub-basin of the San Joaquin Valley groundwater basin, and approximately 350 production and monitoring wells are measured monthly within the Kern River Alluvial Fan area.

Groundwater banking is so important to Kern County that almost every water district participates in a a banking program, in some fashion.

Kern County Groundwater Banking Programs

  • Arvin-Edison Water Storage District Water Management Program
  • Berrenda Mesa Property Joint Water Banking Project
  • Buena Vista Water Storage District Water Management Program
  • Buena Vista Water Storage District/West Kern Water District Water Supply Project
  • Cawelo Water District/Dudley Ridge Water District Conjunctive Use Program
  • Cawelo Water District’s Modified Famoso Water Banking Project
  • City of Bakersfield 2800 Acre Groundwater Recharge Facility
  • Kern Delta Water District’s Groundwater Banking Program
  • Kern Water Bank
  • North Kern Water District Groundwater Storage Project
  • Thomas N. Clark Recharge and Banking Project
  • Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District and Improvement District No. 4 Joint Use Groundwater Recovery Project
  • Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District’s Groundwater Banking Program
  • Semitropic Groundwater Banking Project
  • West Kern Water District’s Groundwater Banking Program

Kern Water Bank

The biggest of the county’s water banks, the Kern Water Bank is located on a large, undeveloped section of the Kern River’s sandy alluvial fan and covers nearly 30 square miles. It has about 7,000 acres of recharge ponds which, on average, recharge at a rate of 0.3 feet per day. Up to 72,000 acre-feet per month can be recharged at the beginning of a recharge program, a rate that declines as the program progresses. After a year of continuous recharge, the rates may be as low as 30,000 acre-feet per month.

There is no fixed amount for how much water the water bank can hold. The amount of storage readily accessible to the Kern Water Bank is estimated to be about 1.5 million acre-feet.

The water bank’s 85 recovery wells can each produce about 5 cubic feet per second (2,250 gallons per minute) of water. In a 10-month recovery program, about 240,000 acre-feet of water could be recovered. If water is recovered in successive years, well production and annual recovery will decline.

The Kern Water Bank also operates a nationally recognized native plant and wildlife habitat conservation program that is restoring critical intermittent wetland and upland habitat to their natural state and protecting endangered species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, Tipton kangaroo rat, and San Joaquin wooly threads.

For more information about the Kern Water Bank click here.

2800 Acres

Bakersfield operates a groundwater recharge facility known as the “2800 Acres.” Water sources include the Kern River, SWP, and some federal projects.

Thomas N. Clark Recharge and Banking Project

The Kern County Water Agency operates the 2,200 acre Thomas N. Clark Recharge and Banking Project which was created for groundwater recharge and recovery operations.

Water Fact

California relies on water from the Sierra Nevada snowpack , which melts to provide runoff to rivers and reservoirs. In normal years, melted snowpack typically supplies about 30 percent of the state’s water supply.

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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