Geoff Vanden Heuvel
Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs
The board of East Kaweah GSA met last Friday and adopted an emergency allocation resolution. Here is what they adopted:
• Each assessed acre in the GSA will be allocated 1.65 acre feet of groundwater consumption tracked by Evapotranspiration with no charge.
• Allocations can be transferred anywhere in the GSA for this year only.
• Extraction above the 1.65 acre feet will be penalized $500 per acre foot.
• The start date for calculating consumption is retroactive to October 1, 2021.
A couple of factors to consider:
• There are about 95,000 assessed acres in EKGSA, but when you take out driveways, shops and equipment yards there are about 85,000 irrigated acres.
• About 75% of the EKGSA does have some access to surface water. Some of these districts have stored water underground that they can recover this year.
• The EKGSA board was warned by their attorney that establishing this allocation with penalty fees retroactively could run into legal trouble.
The bottom line is EKGSA is located near the foothills of the Sierras in Tulare County where the groundwater aquifer is quite shallow. There has been significant groundwater extraction in their area because of the drought in the last two years. The board clearly believes it must take this action to protect its part of the Kaweah Subbasin. This a game changer for farmers in this area.