First-ever Groundwater Project Breaks Ground for San Joaquin River Restoration Program
Written by: Todd Plain
Pablo Arroyave, deputy director for Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region, offers praise and appreciation for all involved during a groundwater recharge basin groundbreaking ceremony Dec.17, 2015, near Fresno, California. TULARE, Calif. – Deep in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley sits a sandy plot of vacant farm land, once said to have several artesian wells overflowing with groundwater. The Cordeniz [core-deh-neez] family that owned the land say it was difficult to dig a fence-post hole without water filling it right back up. But that was decades ago.
Over that last few years, part of that sandy basin has been put to good use—soaking up and banking any excess water to recharge groundwater supplies.
On Dec.17, 2015, the local Tulare Irrigation District held a groundbreaking ceremony for its project to quadruple the existing groundwater recharge basin, from 20 acres to 80, increasing storage capacity to approximately 300 acre feet; that’s nearly 98 million gallons of groundwater. Around 25 people from local and federal interests were on hand for the event, including members of the Cordeniz family.
The Bureau of Reclamation is providing roughly half of an estimated $4 million for the district’s Cordeniz Basin Project under authorization to provide financial assistance for local agencies within Reclamation’s Central Valley Project, towards groundwater projects. Construction is expected to begin in January and end in December 2016.
“This project is the very first groundbreaking for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program—period—and I’m very happy to be here,” said Pablo Arroyave, deputy director for Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region, during the ceremony.
The San Joaquin River Restoration Program is a long-term plan for releasing flows to maintain fish populations over an area of 153 river miles in the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River. The Cordeniz project is the first of four planned recharge projects intended to help make up for future water losses to irrigation districts and others during the river’s restoration.
Even while California is experiencing historic dry weather, the Tulare Irrigation District is taking charge to be prepared for when the rains eventually return to the San Joaquin Valley.
“Expansion of the Cordinez recharge basin is a perfect example of what I think districts need to be doing aggressively to help manage drought, no matter what the future holds,” Arroyave said.
Published on December 22, 2015