Friday January 27, 2023


The state does not have a mechanism for tracking the amount of floodwater that water managers and landowners are diverting to groundwater recharge projects. But the looming threat of groundwater regulations has propelled a new race to grab more water in the wet years to prepare for the dry years.

Innovative new collaborations are showing both promise and the regulatory hurdles ahead in scaling up efforts to tap into this natural water supply storage.

In 2021 researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) developed a dataset of specific groundwater banking projects as part of a policy report on groundwater trading to support the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Kern County was one of the first to get banking projects in California and accounted for most of the growth in stored volume from the early 1990s to mid-2000s, according to PPIC. The Kern Water Bank stores around 90% of the county’s total groundwater supply. The 32-square-mile property has the capacity to store 1.5 million acre-feet of water, nearly as much as Lake Berryessa in Napa County, with some additional expansion since 2019.

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