First Friday of the month at 5p.m.
KFCF, 88.1 FM Fresno
Listen to our podcast.
It was welcome news to read in today’s (10-29-15) Fresno Bee that momentum builds to employ winter-fallowed farmlands, including dormant orchards and vineyards for Valley aquifer recharge should anticipated El Nino flood flows materialize. My well and pump man Hollis Priest was on the farm last week tuning us up when I asked him what sort of water table declines he was observing over this irrigation season. Hollis reports the Clovis area remains stable, while other communities, like Raisin City, have experienced drops of greater than 50 feet. In our case, we’ll commission an official Pump Test soon, but our well’s yield decline, from 800 gallons per minute down to 650 GPM, over this summer indicates Madera’s water table has suffered significantly. Warmer than average high temperatures this fall have abated over recent days to near normal, while lows continued 10 degrees F above normal. Should this trend persist, as predicted, even generous winter rains may not translate into much snowpack. This is the hard reality I found friends and communities in Oregon, Washington and Alaska struggling with this summer during my travels to those states. Over the next decade, Western regions may need to redesign their whole approach to storing the water that spells us over dry Mediterranean summers. Pioneering research on the concept of seasonal flooding of agricultural lands for groundwater recharge was conducted by a former classmate Don Cameron on Fresno County’s 7,000 acre Terranova ranch in 2011, in conjunction with the Kings River Conservation District (KRCD). Over the past two years, I have promoted this innovation through “Down on the Farm” radio shows and in appearances before Madera County’s board of supervisors, Madera Irrigation District (MID) and the Madera Groundwater Joint Power Authority. This spring, the University of California published a statewide study that identifies 3.6 million acres of agricultural lands which feature ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ potential for groundwater recharge. Thankfully, this September, Madera Irrigation District formally solicited farms to voluntarily participate in an on-farm flooding program this winter, to which they reportedly received enthusiastic response. T&D Willey Farms will certainly devote acreage to groundwater recharge if the opportunity arises. A just-released California Water Foundation report estimates flood flows from all major rivers and streams in Fresno, Madera and Merced counties (excepting the San Joaquin R.) could contribute a net average annual increase to our tri-county region’s groundwater storage of 50,000 acre feet through on-farm winter flooding. This could reduce groundwater overdraft by as much as 20%.
Calif. Water Foundation Report: bit.ly/1LAra8a
UC Report: bit.ly/1EEbGAg