Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to footer

North Fork Kings GSA Updates

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/.

A Note From the General Manager

Justin Mendes, General Manager

During the first half of 2023, the North Fork Kings GSA was focused on our Roadmap to an Allocation. Most of that time was spent discussing the methodologies to calculate a Sustainable Yield and the rules and regulations of the agency. As of right now, these items exist in draft form and remain available for more input. Some may view this as falling behind other GSAs but truthfully, we have time to observe what works and what doesn’t. Also, by having five committees there is more opportunity to discuss ideas.

In August, the Kings Subbasin received its formal approval letter from the CA Department of Water Resources with 12 “Corrective Actions.” Most of the corrective actions center around data gaps and implementing a Domestic Well Mitigation Program. Maintaining our approved status needs to be our top priority and thus the Board rightfully decided to shift the focus from our “Roadmap” to our Corrective Actions. In the final quarter of 2023, we will be initiating data studies and a Well Registration Program to preserve our approved status.

With our short-term goal of gathering data, the Board still has a long-term goal of providing all constituents and landowners a vision for the future so they can plan ahead. SGMA is not a math test with an absolute answer at the end. SGMA is a group Accounting project to demonstrate various methods to eliminate over-pumping. The crucial piece to this is developing a Water Accounting system to help water users make efficient decisions. In 2024 expect extensive outreach to assist you in learning more about water accounting.

John Coelho Creates Generational Sustainability with Recharge

John Coelho is leading a decades-long, multi-generational farming career. He’s creating a sustainable operation for the generations that follow him.

John operates Casaca Vineyard with his brother, and thinks strategically about managing water supplies, especially when it comes to correcting groundwater overdraft. In 2017, he created a groundwater recharge pond where he started using his own acreage to recharge the aquifer. In 2022, he built another 320-acre pond. Though there were drought conditions between 2017 and 2022, the wet year in winter 2023 filled both ponds for groundwater recharge.

He says it’s important to be ready to capture surface water so that during wet years he can help keep surface water within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary.

“You’ve got to build it before you need it,” John said.

Landowners may see credits for their efforts down the line as North Fork Kings GSA pursues policies to support landowners who recharge. But for John, groundwater recharge is also a way to ensure sustainability for his family’s future farming operation.

“You want to hand something off to your children that’s sustainable,” John said. “Groundwater recharge provides a long-term solution to keep your operation sustainable.”

Performing groundwater recharge requires proper maintenance, but this maintenance has been worked into Casaca Vineyard’s ongoing operation. He says maintaining the ponds for groundwater recharge is an investment into his community.

“Our family has always believed in giving back to the community. Keeping water in our area is a way to do that,” John said.

Working towards a future of sustainability through grower recharge

This year’s record water year has led to a unique opportunity for North Fork Kings GSA growers to contribute to groundwater sustainability through grower recharge – the application of using available surface water during wet years to recharge the aquifer beneath grower’s land.

Reid Potter, a grower in the North Fork Kings GSA, was one of several within the agency to take the opportunity to perform grower recharge. To perform recharge, Reid flooded the open fields on his ranch. He also identified nearby landowners with surface water and open fields to help them perform recharge on their land.

Reid has a long history of farming, beginning in 1970 with his father’s purchase of a ranch within the North Fork Kings GSA area, which Reid took over in 2009.

Reid began practicing grower recharge on open land in March 2023. A major motivator for Reid’s participation was the status of the 2022-23 water year.

“Last year really hit home for me. I spent more time last summer working on wells in three months than in 40 years. So, this year when we had all this water, I knew I had to do something,” Reid said.

Although he’s doing what he can to make his land sustainable, Reid acknowledges that having more growers participate will be what it takes to make an impact and secure sustainability within the North Fork Kings GSA.

“We’re all in this together, and we have to help each other. We could solve our problems if we got everybody involved – if we can get a big part of the GSA involved,” he said.

Since practicing grower recharge, Reid has encouraged others in the GSA to understand its importance and do the same.

“It’s easy to talk about it [grower recharge], but when you do it, and people see it, it’s like, ‘okay, that’s something I can do.’ It’s not rocket science,” said Reid. 

Reid strongly encourages others within the North Fork Kings GSA to contact General Manager Justin Mendes to learn more about practicing grower recharge.

To learn more about practicing recharge on your land, call us at 559.242.6118 or email General Manager Justin Mendes at jmendes@northforkkings.org

North Fork Kings GSA to perform a canal capacity study

North Fork Kings GSA is performing a canal capacity study during the 2023-24 fiscal year to identify where potential improvements can be made to the canal and conveyance systems within the agency. The study will allow surface water units within the North Fork GSA to deliver as much available Kings River water as possible for irrigation and recharge to help comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The study will gather information to estimate the existing canal capacity and constraints of existing conveyance systems through site visits and discussions with existing operations staff. Following the study, a second phase consisting of a more detailed survey of needed improvements and preliminary design of the highest priority systems may be conducted to help estimate the costs of the improvements and determine participation between North Fork Kings GSA and the applicable surface water unit.

By performing this study, North Fork Kings GSA aims to increase the capacity of the systems to bring more surface water in to offset groundwater pumping and conduct groundwater recharge.

The canal capacity study will be shared with irrigation districts and the mutual water companies within the North Fork Kings so they can quickly identify where to invest in improvements.

Translate »