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November 2, 2007

COLLABORATION OF VALLEY CITIES, COUNTIES AND IRRIGATION DISTRICTS CALLED BACK FOR WATER GRANT

Fresno, CA – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board have invited the Upper Kings Basin Water Forum (Water Forum) back for Round Two to vie for funds from Proposition 50, which is part of DWR's Integrated Regional Water Management Implementation Grants Program encouraging integrated regional strategies for management of water resources.

In August, KRCD submitted an application for grant funding from DWR on behalf of the Upper Kings Basin Water Forum (Water Forum). The grant in the amount of $9 million if awarded will be used on water supply and quality projects that were identified in the Water Forum’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. The Water Management Plan is a result of over two years of collaborative planning by the Water Forum, a multi-stakeholder group made up of local cities, counties, water districts and environmental organizations.

“Out of 28 applications, the Water Forum was one of eight applicants to be considered for the second round of funding,” explained Dave Orth, KRCD General Manager. “The Water Forum participants recognize the advantage of approaching prospective funding opportunities from a regional perspective,” Orth continued, “and this call back by the State represents the benefit of our integrated approach to water management.”

Historically, the management of water resources has been limited to independent operations by overlying local water agencies and individual water users. The Water Forum was formed to increase communication and collaboration to create regional solutions for water resources management.

Members of the Water Forum include the cities of Clovis, Dinuba, Fresno, Fowler, Kerman, Kingsburg, Parlier, Reedley, Sanger and Selma; the counties of Kings, Tulare and Fresno; environmental organizations including the Fresno Audubon Society, Sierra Club, California Native Plant Society, and the Kings River Fisheries Public Advisory Group; water agencies including the Fresno, Consolidated and Alta irrigation districts, Kings River Conservation District, Kings River Water Association, the California Water Institute, the Department of Water Resources, Department of Fish & Game and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

As identified in the Forum’s Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, overdraft of the groundwater resource is the primary issue to be addressed in the Kings River Basin. Over the past 40 years, water levels in the Fresno area have dropped by 40 feet. In the Raisin City area, they have dropped by 150 feet. 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, call for improved water resource management in the Kings Basin.

New water supply infrastructure is needed today to meet future demands from urban growth, environmental needs and agricultural usage. Having an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan makes the Water Forum competitive for current and future funding opportunities from the State to support the construction of infrastructure.

Projects proposed for development in the Water Management Plan have been identified through an integrated hydrologic model of the Kings River Basin to determine the optimal benefits they provide to water resources planning. The Regional Water Plan evaluates alternatives to determine the greatest positive impact to manage, and develop the surface and groundwater supplies in a sustainable manner.

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