Madera Ranch plans use of groundwater bank

Central Valley Project water flowingCentral Valley Project water flowingThe U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled a negotiation session with Madera Irrigation District to discuss the potential delivery, storage and return of federal Central Valley Project water into and out of the Madera Irrigation District’s Water Supply Enhancement Project, also known as the Madera Ranch groundwater bank.

The session, open to the public, will be held at 2 p.m. July 25 in the Madera Irrigation District Conference Room, 12152 Road 28 ¼ in Madera.

The goal of the session is to develop a partnership agreement that would lead to greater reliability of the Central Valley Project water in the San Joaquin Valley. The Central Valley Project is a Bureau of Reclamation federal water project that provides; through a series of canals, aqueducts and pump plants; irrigation and municipal water from Northern California to much of the Central Valley.

Madera Irrigation District opened Madera Ranch groundwater bank for operation in 2011. Along with its underground storage use, the facility is intended to improve water supply reliability and flexibility.

It could also improve regional water self-efficiency.

The ranch has plenty of underground storage area for storage and water banking, which is the practice of foregoing water deliveries during certain periods and banking either the right to use the foregone water in the future or saving it for someone else to use in exchange for a fee or delivery in kind.

The Madera Ranch groundwater bank covers 13,000 acres and could hold, based on a feasibility study, 200,000 acre-feet of water during wet years. In times of drought, it could hold 400,000 acre-feet and provide users 100,000 acre-feet per year by pumping water out through wells.

An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons of water.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, Section 206, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to participate in non-federal groundwater banking programs to increase the operational flexibility, reliability and efficient use of water in California. That includes making payments for the storage of Central Valley Project water supplies, the purchase of stored water, the purchase of shares or an interest in groundwater banking facilities or the use of Central Valley Project water as a medium for payment for groundwater banking services.

The terms and conditions between the Bureau of Reclamation and Madera Irrigation District will be developed at the negotiation session.