A groundwater recharge project expected to cost Eastside Water District landowners approximately $6 million over a ten year period is slated to go before the Board of Directors next month for final consideration.
“Since EWD does not have a surface supply and is almost entirely dependent on groundwater supplies with little or no surface recharge, the District must be progressive in its efforts to become sustainable so that all landowners within the District can still enjoy the ability to farm within the District’s boundaries without having their rights to pump groundwater curtailed,” a prepared analysis report stated.
The project aims to alleviate current declining groundwater trends within EWD’s boundary by diverting available surface water to recharge the groundwater basin. Upon completion, the project will include recharge basins and properties that will divert water in the off-season into irrigation systems.
The goal of the project is to recharge up to 2,500 acre-feet annually of diffused storm water, currently collected in Turlock Irrigation District’s Highline Canal and which would not naturally flow to a watercourse, and up to 4,000 acre-feet annually in runoff from Sand and Mustang creeks.
The $6 million cost includes the assumption that the EWD does not need to purchase property for the intention of recharge. If the District was to acquire property, however, the project costs can potentially increase to approximately $8.7 million.
Formed in 1985 to address water needs of the area and the groundwater overdraft of the eastern portion of the Turlock Subbasin of the San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Basin, EWD is comprised of approximately 61,200 acres in Merced and Stanislaus counties.
Most of the land—approximately 57,900 acres—within EWD is agricultural and currently irrigated with groundwater as the District has nearly none of its own surface water. As a result, groundwater levels in the area have steadily declined since the mid-1950s due to over-pumping.
The proposal received 28 protests from affected landowners before its public hearing in December, which is significantly less than the 303 total protest votes required under state law to reject the set of charges needed to cover the cost of construction, operations, maintenance and administration related to the project.
The first implementation charge to fund the $6 million project will be $30 per acre with an adjustment in subsequent years based on the Consumer Price Index. Non-irrigated lands will be charged at a reduced rate.
For more information, visit eastsidewaterdistrict.com or call 589-0689.