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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. 

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