Politics Magazine

Kern Co. Plan Offers Specifics of Water Situation

Posted on the 29 January 2014 by Jim Winburn @civicbeebuzz

0113_newswire_water_w100_res72 RIDGECREST – The Kern County Planning Department has released the Resource Opportunity Plan, a one-stop shop for all the information and study results ever conducted in the Indian Wells Valley. The plan is half data collections and analysis, and the other half is suggestions and comments from the public and the plan’s composers about how to address water issues and woes.

The plan was compiled by third-party group Todd Engineers and paid for by the county. Todd concluded that the Indian Wells Valley basin is closed — meaning it is recharged with Sierra runoff only and not fed by another source such as an underground waterway, is in overdraft, and the importation of water is needed to sustain current demand. One possible source may be the water banked from the Fremont Valley Preservation Project.

The plan also outlines goals to help achieve water sustainability.

The “Goals” as set forth in the plan are to “Ensure that adequate supplies of quality water are available to residential, industrial, and agricultural users; ensure the availability of high-quality water to meet long-term needs; and, provide for self-sustaining water resources now and for generations to come.”
The plan lays out expected water use, which incorporates the existing pistachio orchards. “Expected consumptive use of groundwater in 2025 equals total groundwater withdrawals of 34,500 AFY (acre feet per year) minus irrigation deep percolation of 2,600 to 3,100 AFY, or about 31,700 AFY. Safe yield of the groundwater basin is probably less than 7,000 AFY, resulting in an imbalance of about 25,000 AFY. Physical measures are necessary to address the existing imbalance between groundwater supply and demand. These measures need to increase supply or decrease demand until the existing imbalance of about 25,000 AFY has been offset.”

The plan also provides ways to reach these goals. One of the goals will be to deal with the overdraft and future water needs.

“Solving the overdraft problem in Indian Wells Valley will require items from each of three categories: physical measures to eliminate the imbalance between existing demand and supply, management; measures to minimize future increases in agricultural water demand, and an agency with the appropriate powers and local focus to implement those measures.”

Some of these suggestions to help conserve water include: consideration of an urgency ordinance for water use and evaluate legal issues, develop a water management agency, acquire imported water, pursue local conservation and supply projects, complete a Specific Plan and related Environmental Impact Report for Indian Wells Valley, and, strengthen current water management planning. And, as with any plan or project, funding will also be needed.

The current water usage exceeds the recharge into the aquifer, creating an overdraft. The plan has suggestions for preserving the water that is currently available, manage current water demands, and redistribution of municipal water pumping.

Full story by Mike Bodine at ridgecrestca.com.

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