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North Fork Kings GSA Updates

Update for Kings County Landowners: Groundwater Management Status in the North Fork Kings GSA

KINGS COUNTY LANDOWNERS, you may have seen information published in the news or heard from your neighbors about the State Water Resources Control Board’s (State Board) decision on April 16th to put the Tulare Lake Subbasin on probation, meaning the State Board has intervened to manage groundwater. The North Fork Kings GSA is located in the Kings Subbasin, and currently has an approved Groundwater Sustainability Plan and IS NOT going through the probationary hearing process with the State Board. Groundwater will continue to be managed locally for parcels within the North Fork Kings GSA. If you have questions or concerns, contact the North Fork Kings GSA at our new number (559) 632-7032.

Well Registration Program Update

  • 362 agricultural and domestic wells registered
  • 50% of North Fork Kings GSA total acreage has been enrolled in the well registration program on Watermark
  • 728 parcels have been claimed to Watermark user accounts

Thank you to those who have participated in the new well registration program over the last several months. Well registration is taking place on Watermark, a new online SGMA tool for landowners.

Register your well(s) today! For step-by-step instructions on how to register, visit northforkkings.org/watermark

For more information about well registration, visit northforkkings.org/watermark. If you have any questions, contact the GSA at (559) 632-7032 or help@northforkkings.org.

General Manager’s Note from the Spring Newsletter

Justin Mendes, General Manager

We have finished the first quarter of 2024 and I wanted to provide the latest updates to North Fork Kings GSA landowners. Our top priority is maintaining our approved status with the State, the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR), which we will achieve by addressing the corrective actions they submitted with our Groundwater Sustainability Plan approval letter. Those actions focus on 3 important items:

  1. Domestic Well Mitigation,
  2. Confined Aquifer Study, and
  3. Interconnected Surface Waters.

These items need to be addressed by January 31, 2025, and are crucial to maintaining local control over SGMA regulations. Some neighboring GSAs will be before the State Water Resources Control Board in April for failing to meet DWR’s requirements. While we sympathize with our neighbors, it is not a process we want to endure.

The studies and implementation of the 3 items is going to come at a cost. The Domestic Well Mitigation program itself needs a
dedicated funding stream through at least 2040. The Board of Directors is fully committed to utilizing reserves to keep landowner assessments low, but we will need additional funding to carry out the program to 2040. At the March Board meeting the board voted to conduct a Prop 218 election that will conclude with a Public Hearing at the June 26 Board meeting.

The GSA plans to hold multiple workshops to go over the Prop 218 proposal and the 5-year budget of the GSA. There is no silver bullet solution to groundwater sustainability. The GSA is studying as much as we can to provide quality analysis at an effective cost. I invite you to stay engaged and learn more by signing up for our email list (you can do so at northforkkings.org), attending an upcoming workshop, or giving us a call. Please reach out if you have questions or would like to discuss the election and our priorities as a GSA at (559) 632-7032.

Board moves forward on Proposition 218 election and invites landowners to participate and stay engaged

The North Fork Kings GSA Board of Directors approved the Engineer’s Report at their March 27 meeting, a required initial step of conducting a Proposition 218 (Prop 218) election.

Through this Prop 218 election, landowners are being asked to approve a land-based assessment rate with an $18/acre per year maximum. The Board of Directors will set the rate annually and is planning on drawing some money from reserves to gradually increase the assessment over the next five years. In its proposed budget, the Board plans to start with a rate of $6 per acre in fiscal year 2024-25, escalating each year until it reaches the $18 per acre maximum.

The table below shows the proposed budget and schedule for assessment rates over the next five years and the funding categories.

Funding local groundwater efforts

In 2023, North Fork Kings GSA received approval on its Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), marking a significant milestone for the agency and its landowners by allowing the North Fork Kings GSA to locally carry out sustainability efforts.

This approval gives the North Fork Kings GSA the benefit of implementing its GSP at a pace that allows for landowner and stakeholder input and awareness on future projects and programs. Without pressure of immediate State intervention, the North Fork Kings GSA can develop required management actions, like groundwater allocations, with a measured and methodical multi-year approach.

Although approval of the GSP was received, additional funding is necessary to implement GSP activities and programs essential to keep the North Fork Kings GSA’s good standing with the State. Along with GSP approval, DWR included 12 corrective actions the GSA must address in its 2025 GSP update. SGMA is an unfunded mandate, leaving it up to the local GSA to generate funding to meet its requirements. To adequately address these actions and maintain its approved status, the North Fork Kings GSA needs the funding proposed through this Prop 218 election.

Previous funding efforts

In 2018, the North Fork Kings GSA passed a Prop 218 election with 94% of votes in support of the assessment. The previous election authorized the agency to assess up to a maximum of $10 per acre per year but had a five-year sunset concluding with fiscal year 2022-2023. Reserves were used to fund GSA activities in fiscal year 2023-2024. Due to this sunset of the previous authorization, additional landowner authorization is needed to fund the North Fork Kings GSA’s activities moving forward.

The North Fork Kings GSA has been careful to steward landowner dollars collected from the prior Prop 218 authorization, using funding to initiate the implementation of state sustainability requirements and develop a successful GSP. Additionally, the agency did not collect any assessments in 2023 because it had enough in its reserves for GSA administration, continue GSP implementation activities, and begin work on addressing the corrective actions identified by DWR.

More information coming soon

More information on Prop 218 will be made available soon. Landowners should be on the lookout for the Prop 218 ballot and notice in their mailboxes in early May. Ballots must be submitted by the Public Hearing on June 26.

For more information, visit www.northforkkings.org/218election where you can access the Engineers Report and proposed budget for the Prop 218 election. Additional resources and information will become available on the Prop 218 webpage in the coming weeks. We invite you to stay engaged by signing up for our email list if you have not already (you can do so at northforkkings.org), attending an upcoming workshop, or contacting us with questions at 559-632-7032.

Please also share the news with your neighbor, and invite them to stay engaged.

Join us at an upcoming workshop

Attend an upcoming Prop 218 educational workshop at the Riverdale Memorial Hall, located at 3085 W. Mt. Whitney Ave, Riverdale, CA 93656, to learn more about the Prop 218 election:

Workshop #1: Tuesday, May 21, 5:30 – 7:00 PM (Interpretación disponible en español)

Workshop #2: Wednesday, June 5, 8:00 – 9:30 AM

NEW Landowner Well Registration Program

The North Fork Kings GSA has launched a well registration program. Landowners’ prompt action in the program is important to keep local control of groundwater management. The well registration program is most immediately tied to a State-required groundwater study on the confined aquifer. Over the next several months, the North Fork Kings GSA is conducting this study to better understand land subsidence and groundwater flows. Landowner participation is an important part of completing the study by fall 2024.

Wells can be registered online via a new web-based platform called Watermark.

To participate in this initiative, landowners must activate their Watermark account and register wells using a short form within Watermark.

📪 LANDOWNERS! Letters were mailed on January 31st containing your unique verification codes. These codes are necessary to add your parcels and complete the registration process.

Your well registration helps keep groundwater management local.

Attend an Upcoming Workshop to Learn More and Receive Assistance

Upcoming Workshops on the Well Registration Program will provide an opportunity for landowners to:

  • Understand more about the well registration program
  • Receive one-on-one assistance with activating your Watermark account
  • Ask questions

Event location:

Riverdale Memorial District, 3085 W Mt. Whitney Ave, Riverdale, CA 936356

Event dates:

  • February 21, 2024, 7:30 AM – 10:30 AM
  • March 7, 2024, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • March 20, 2024, 7:30 AM – 10:30 AM

Please bring the letter than contains your verification codes and a laptop to receive assistance during the event.

For more information about well registration, visit northforkkings.org/watermark. If you have any questions, contact the GSA at (559) 242-6118 or help@northforkkings.org.

Record water year propels Kings River area toward groundwater sustainability

Project investments pay off as Kings Subbasin recharges 500,000 acre-feet back into the aquifer during historic 2023 Kings River water year

Following a multi-year drought, the Kings River ended the 2023 water year (October 2022 – September 2023) with a record-shattering 4.5 million acre-feet of runoff.

Flood releases from Pine Flat moved water through Kings River channels and water purveyor headgates for 162 days straight. It was a golden opportunity for agencies within the Kings Subbasin, encompassing portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kings counties, to make strides toward groundwater sustainability goals.

Kings River water districts, canal companies, and growers maximized surface water diversions during the action-packed year to recharge roughly 500,000 acre-feet back into the aquifer.

Interactive Storymap

Learn more about the historic water year and some of the projects that made record recharge numbers possible.

The seven Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and their members have been preparing for a year like this since January 2020, when they submitted their first plans to the State outlining the roadmap to sustainability by 2040 under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The Kings Subbasin strategy to build recharge basins during the drought paid off.

Since submitting their plans in 2020, the GSAs and their members have collectively invested in over 1,000 acres of prime groundwater recharge land to construct 25 dedicated recharge basins yielding over 24,500 acre-feet of new recharge capacity annually. These basins are either constructed, in progress, or will be completed over the next several years. During the 2023 historic water year, the agencies christened their newly constructed basins with flood waters for the first time.

Kings Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

The efforts of the past several years prove the GSAs are walking the talk, sincere in the race toward groundwater sustainability.

The Kings Subbasin is located in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley and comprised of seven Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): Central Kings, James, Kings River East, McMullin Area, North Fork Kings, North Kings, and South Kings. The GSAs are implementing individual Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) and operate under a Coordination Agreement to achieve groundwater sustainability together by 2040 under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), signed into law in 2014. 

Wettest Year on Record: 2022-2023 Water Year

Runoff on the Kings River this past water year was the highest on record with just over 4.5 million acre-feet of runoff (approximately 265% of average). The water year began October 1, 2022, and concluded September 30, 2023. Growers and member agencies within the North Fork Kings GSA were able to optimize recharge efforts and make use of available facilities to capture surface water during flood releases in addition to using more surface water for irrigation in place of pumped groundwater. Notably, North Fork Kings GSA member agency Laguna Irrigation District took advantage and successfully recharged 15,524 acre-feet (AF) in District owned recharge basins, while an additional 26,171 AF was recharged by landowners through dedicated recharge efforts.

North Fork Kings GSA to Conduct a Confined Aquifer Study

The North Fork Kings GSA is conducting a confined aquifer study within its boundaries. This study aims to estimate groundwater pumping from the confined aquifer beneath the Corcoran Clay to identify impacts on land subsidence and implement preventive measures for the Agency’s ability to maintain sustainable subsidence rates.

The confined aquifer study is a requirement for the North Fork Kings GSA to maintain its approved Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) status with the State. The study is one of 12 corrective actions provided in August in the GSP approval letter from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Addressing the corrective actions is a priority, as having an approved GSP is needed to maintain local control over groundwater.

As part of the study, the North Fork Kings GSA will establish a well monitoring network to observe the confined aquifer’s response to pumping. The monitoring network will help identify and fill any data gaps and develop a better understanding of groundwater use and flow.

To support the study efforts, the North Fork Kings GSA is initiating a well registration program to gather data on well locations, depths, and perforated intervals. This information will help the North Fork Kings GSA understand the specific aquifers that wells are pumping from, particularly the extent of groundwater being pumped from the confined aquifer.

Landowner participation in well registration is key to the study’s successful completion over the next year. The North Fork Kings GSA asks all well owners to register their wells. Visit www.northforkkings.org/watermark to get started now by joining the volunteer Early Access Group.

Well Registration Begins on Watermark, a New Online Tool for Landowners

More on Watermark
Land IQ


Watermark provides monthly
evapotranspiration (ET) data by parcel from Land IQ . ET is the amount of water consumed by the plant through evaporation and transpiration. In combination with satellite imagery, Land IQ uses scientifically tested ground
truthing to generate hourly ET
data. Temperature, humidity, net radiation, and wind speed are measured through the ground truthing process.

Land IQ is a trusted resource
by approximately 40 GSAs
and districts across California. The company has collaborated with UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension, and has advisors from the USDA Agricultural Research Service as part of its efforts to provide accurate, quality ET data.

A new online tool for landowners to register wells is launching in the North Fork Kings GSA. The tool, named Watermark, is an efficient way for landowners to fill out information about their wells using a digital form.

Over the next several months, landowner participation in the well registration process through Watermark is needed as a critical piece of completing a groundwater aquifer study requested by the State.

Key to the study on what’s known as the “confined” aquifer is knowing the depth of wells and their perforations, in addition to well location. Successful completion of the study in 2024 is mandatory, and directly impacts whether control over groundwater management remains local rather than in the hands of State agencies.

For domestic well owners, registration will be required to receive any financial support for wells that may go dry under a future Domestic Well Mitigation Program.

Watermark as a well registration tool is only the first step in a long-term vision for the platform. The online platform will be expanded over time to include water accounting capabilities once groundwater allocations are in place. For initial launch, landowners can use Watermark to begin tracking their monthly water use by accessing parcel-level ET data from Land IQ.

During November and December, Watermark will undergo a pilot launch with the North Fork Kings GSA Board and Committee members, and a Volunteer Early Access Group. Starting in January, Watermark will be available to access directly from the North Fork Kings GSA website.


LANDOWNERS! JOIN THE WATERMARK VOLUNTEER EARLY ACCESS GROUP BY PROVIDING YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION AT WWW.NORTHFORKKINGS.ORG/WATERMARK.

Notice to Riparian Rights-Holders:

Submitting your annual Statement of Diversion and Use to the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) for riparian pumping is crucial to ensure your surface water use is counted by the North Fork Kings GSA under future groundwater allocations. The reporting process aligns with the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and will benefit you in the long term. Further information regarding the State Board’s reporting requirements can be found at https://www.waterboards. ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/diversion_use/.

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