Paul Gosselin, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) official in charge of implementing SGMA for the state, recently held a webinar where he discussed actions to capture excess flood flows and recharge groundwater. You can view the presentation here.
According to DWR, the current total recharge capacity estimates for this year is 3.8 million acre-feet. To date, 92,410 acre-feet has been diverted for recharge on 88,362 acres and DWR estimates that there are another 2.1 million acre-feet in active recharge projects, water banks and surface water diversions.
DWR also discussed its "Rip & Chip" program designed to clear land of crops, such as almonds, walnuts and vines, so diversions can occur timely to capture this past winter's historic precipitation and runoff.
Gosselin outlined the following:
DWR has an existing $2 million (available Prop 1 funding) that must be used consistent with the Agricultural Water Management Planning Act – agricultural water use efficiency activities
Approximately 1,000 acres of “Rip and Chip” activities to clear lands of crops (almond and walnut trees and vines) so that diversions with temporary pump/turn-outs and greater recharge can occur
These lands will need to remain permanently fallowed and dedicated to groundwater recharge if receiving this funding
Interestingly, the Chip & Rip program is available for public agencies to apply for, so landowners who want to participate in the program must coordinate with such entities to receive the funding.
These near-term actions by DWR support the longer-term next steps of the SGMA program, which I wrote about previously here.
Geoff Vanden Heuvel
Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs