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Author: Rebecca Quist

Determining Groundwater Use

There are two basic ways to determine the amount of groundwater used by each landowner: (1) measuring the volume of groundwater pumped by using a flowmeter on the well, or (2) through crop evapotranspiration information obtained via satellite technology. A flowmeter installed on a well measures the gross or total amount of groundwater pumped, whereas the net amount of consumed groundwater can be determined through calculations using crop water use data. The gross amount of water pumped will exceed the net consumptive use because of inefficiencies in the irrigation system.

The North Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency (NFKGSA) has recently hired a consultant that utilizes satellite data, cropping data, and local weather stations within the NFKGSA to calculate, by field and by parcel, the amount of water consumed by the crop each month. The actual cropped acreage of a field is identified along with the crop itself. This data is available approximately 30 days after the end of each month. After accounting for surface water deliveries to the field and the amount of precipitation used by the crop, the amount of consumed groundwater can be obtained. At this time, the NFKGSA is using the crop consumptive use information to calculate groundwater use and is only requiring flowmeters to be installed on new wells, but all groundwater wells within the GSA may be required to measure groundwater extraction by flowmeters at some point in the future.

The maps below represent the amount of water consumed by fields in the GSA for the months June, July, and August 2021. Measuring water consumption and calculating groundwater use allows the NFKGSA Board to effectively track progress and make management decisions to achieve groundwater sustainability as required by State law. These maps that allow you to view your measured water use are located at Additional information on how the crop consumptive use information will be used will be provided to all landowners in the near future.

Kings Subbasin Builds for Drought Resilience at Record Pace

15 basins representing 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land with a singular goal of groundwater sustainability

Click here to view the StoryMap outlining project details, locations, and more, and to view the highlight video.

In the short span of two years, the Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, including the North Fork Kings GSA, have invested in 600 acres of prime groundwater recharge land. This land represents 15 dedicated basins that are constructed or in development.

Local water managers have taken the long view as they invest in infrastructure now with the goal to bring sustainability to the groundwater supply shared by all within the Kings Subbasin region.

The additional water infrastructure is anticipated to provide over 15,000 acre-feet of recharge per year on average, directly benefitting groundwater levels for communities and ag lands in the area. An acre foot equals 325,900 gallons, or enough water to cover a football field to a depth of one foot.

View Full StoryMap

Project highlights, videos, locations, and more.


Since the Kings Subbasin submitted seven Groundwater Sustainability Plan Plans (GSP) in January 2020, there has been a driven effort to successfully build groundwater recharge capacity to support Kings Subbasin sustainability goals.

The North Fork Kings GSA has worked diligently alongside its subbasin neighbors to contribute to these efforts. Since GSP adoption, member agency Laguna Irrigation District (ID) has expanded and improved its existing Basin 11 project. Cooperation with water districts like Laguna ID and local landowners has catalyzed construction on several additional projects that in total will bring over 7,000 acre-feet of increased recharge capacity to the area.

Laguna Irrigation District Basin 11 Improvement & Expansion Completed

The Laguna Irrigation District Basin 11 Improvement project consisted of the development of a groundwater recharge basin on a 52-acre site using Kings River floodwater as the primary water source.

This project increased conveyance capacity of the Liberty Canal, constructed a basin with exterior levees, a settling channel, a check structure and headworks to divert water, and installed flow meters and monitoring wells. The project was recently improved through excavation to increase water infiltration resulting in more water being recharged.

The Basin 11 Expansion Project was completed in 2019, adding 38 acres to the project.

Regulation for wells, groundwater usage

The North Fork Kings GSA Board adopted Rules and Regulations in December 2020 to sustainably manage groundwater within the GSA boundary. These regulations, which will be periodically updated, are necessary to implement solutions that will provide a groundwater supply buffer for landowners to use during drier years. The regulations cover topics such as registration of wells, installation of flowmeters, groundwater usage, fees, and storage of groundwater. You can review these rules on the Board Policies webpage.

Here is a brief overview of each of these:

Individual Recharge

A landowner may use existing facilities to store surface water underground within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary and can then put that water to their own beneficial use within the GSA boundaries. The GSA is currently developing the process for growers to participate in an individual recharge program.

Well Registration

Any new wells constructed after January 31, 2021 must be registered with the North Fork Kings GSA within 30 days of drilling completion. All new wells must also install a flowmeter at the time of construction. Metering wells will allow the North Fork Kings GSA to have reliable, accurate extraction data to more effectively track progress and achieve sustainability goals.

All existing wells owned by landowners who own sixty or more acres within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary need to be registered with the North Fork Kings GSA by July 1, 2022. All other wells must be registered by January 1, 2023.

Criteria for Using Meters

All new extraction wells, excluding de minimis users (a person who extracts 2 acre-feet per year or less of groundwater for domestic purposes) are required to be measured by flowmeters and all costs associated with the purchase, installation, operation and maintenance of flowmeters shall be borne by the owner or operation of each extraction facility. In the future, the North Fork Kings GSA may require flowmeters on all non-de minimis wells.

Groundwater Usage

Currently, the North Fork Kings GSA is utilizing satellite imagery, needs analysis, local precipitation and surface water accounting to determine pumping in the region. This technology along with meter information is necessary to develop an accurate water balance for the region. Technical groups are developing future groundwater allocations which are necessary to balance groundwater supplies.

Fees & Assessments

The North Fork Kings GSA is funded through land-based assessments that are included on County property tax bills. North Fork Kings GSA landowners voted to allow a maximum $10.00 per acre assessment in order to locally manage groundwater. In the future, groundwater pumping fees may be necessary to build recharge ponds to replenish groundwater in rainy years.

If the North Fork Kings GSA is unable to locally fund the implementation of SGMA and achieve groundwater sustainability, the State could step in and impose a fee structure on groundwater pumpers many times more costly than the North Fork Kings GSA. They, the State, will also regulate how much groundwater a landowner can pump.

Terra Linda Fruit Avenue Recharge Project Completed

The recently completed Terra Linda Fruit Avenue Recharge project is an 80-acre Landowner Project within the Liberty Mill Race Company service area of the North Fork Kings GSA. The project included construction of above ground levees and installation of headworks and structures for three lift pumps. A generator backup, to keep water flowing in the event of power outage, will soon be installed.

All surface waters for the project will be supplied by Liberty Mill Race Company in the form of its Pre-1914 water supply during flood events.

The North Fork Kings GSA will continue to implement innovative projects that will lead to a resilient supply of groundwater in the region while working to keep groundwater management local.

Board approves $10 per acre assessment

At the May 26 Board Meeting, the North Fork Kings GSA Board approved a maximum assessment of $10 per acre for Fiscal Year 2021-22. The fall county tax rolls will include the assessment. This means if a landowner owns 100 acres, the amount that will be due to the North Fork Kings GSA in Fiscal Year 2022 is $1,000. There are 163,653.7 assessable acres in the North Fork Kings GSA. Based on the assessable acres, this generates $1,636,537 of projected revenue for implementation.

With the adoption of the North Fork Kings GSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan in January 2020, the budget focuses on implementation projects and programs that will achieve groundwater sustainability.

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