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For More Information: Cristel Tufenkjian, KRCD's Manager of Community and Public Relations, 559.237.5567, Extension 118, cell 559.906.2952

May 5, 2008

SIX MILLION DOLLARS AWARDED TO FUND LOCAL PROJECTS TO DEAL WITH PRESSING REGIONAL WATER ISSUES

Fresno, CA - The Upper Kings Basin Water Forum, a group of local cities, counties, water districts and environmental organizations, has been awarded just over $6 million of grant funding from Proposition 50 to construct projects to deal with the region's chronic depletion of groundwater.

The money will be used to help fund two projects identified in the grant proposal:

  • Fresno Irrigation District and Kings County Water District to expand the existing Kings County Water District Apex Ranch Water Banking Facility south of Kingsburg by 220 acres for recharge and recovery to provide an estimated between 10,000 to 14,000 acre-feet of dry-year water yield.
  • Alta Irrigation District to construct a proposed Traver Groundwater Banking Facility to capture available surface water supply during the project's first phase in order to enhance local groundwater levels and in the future support a surface water treatment plant that will reduce the use of lesser quality groundwater for municipal purposes in the easterly portion of the district.

The Prop 50 grant award is part of the California Department of Water Resources' Integrated Regional Water Management Implementation Grants Program, which encourages regional strategies for management of water resources. The Water Forum members accomplished this through the development of an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan for the upper Kings River region, which includes the greater Fresno area down to Kings County. "Now that we have a comprehensive water management plan in place, we must aggressively implement solutions to water supply issues identified in the plan," stated Dave Orth, Kings River Conservation District general manager and Water Forum member.

The primary issue in the water management plan is overdraft of the groundwater. The total overdraft in the Kings Basin during the past 40 years is 6.6 million acre-feet (an acre foot is equal to one football field of water, one foot deep). This is a result of water demand that has exceeded the available surface and groundwater supplies as they are currently developed and managed.

The continued groundwater overdraft is not sustainable and the urban growth pressure in the region, coupled with the need to sustain the agricultural economy, calls for improved water resource management in the Kings River basin. "In other areas of the state, water restrictions are occurring," stated Orth. "New water supply infrastructure like the Apex Ranch and Traver Banking Facility are needed today to avoid further depletion of our water supplies."

Other issues that the Water Forum will be working on as identified in the management plan include increasing water supply reliability, improving and protecting water quality, providing additional flood protection, and protecting and enhancing aquatic ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

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