The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County. The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.
The grant builds off previous awards for large-scale OFR implementation: a $5M Prop 1E grant award from California Department of Water Resources to the Kings River Conservation District in 2012, and a $7M grant award through the NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to Raisin City Water District in 2018, both requiring substantial private cost share.
The McMullin Projects represent the first-of-its-kind OFR projects in California and nationally. The Projects are 1) constructing necessary infrastructure to capture and convey storm waters and floodwaters to vast private farm acreage and 2) implementing farm-scale infrastructure and practices in partnership with farmers and landowners to infiltrate captured storm waters and floodwaters on those farmlands. Through this approach, the McMullin Projects are helping to reduce the ever-increasing threat of regional flood risks and, at the same time, increasing groundwater recharge.
The first McMullin Project was designed to divert and recharge 150 cubic feet per second of storm flow and floodwater from the Kings River across 5,000 acres of farmland. This most recently awarded Project’s goal is to more than double the Kings River diversion rate and the total acreage enlisted for recharge.
This expanded OFR project will implement an experimental data collection program to monitor performance and further develop OFR with greater emphasis on topics such as better integration of OFR with farming practices, protecting groundwater quality, managing costs, and improving groundwater and farmer sustainability. Information garnered from this Project is important as California begins developing the Flood-Managed Aquifer Recharge (FloodMAR) program as a critical element of California’s water future. It is also important for all of agriculture in developing approaches to sustain water resources while staying viable.
Support letters from MAGSA landowners were critical for this award, and all the previous awarded McMullin Projects, demonstrating continued local unified commitment towards greater sustainability. MAGSA was one of 24 projects funded through the Prop 1 Storm Water Grant Program. The $10M award was one of two awarded at the highest level. Sixty-seven applications were submitted, totaling $300M in grant requests. Twenty-four projects were awarded, totaling $98 million.
Ideally, the most effective Project will be conducted through a partnership with Raisin City Water District who will provide matching funds through their (Federal) 2018 NRCS-RCPP award. Prop 1 (State) authorized $7.545 billion in general obligation bonds for water projects including surface and groundwater storage, ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration, and drinking water protection. The State Water Resources Control Board administers Prop 1 funds. This would certainly be a model for State and Federal cooperation.
Combined, the projects will deliver $22 Million in benefits to the area and contribute substantially to the solutions required to offset the overdraft of the last century in the GSA and within the Kings Subbasin. Each of the individual Project(s) are supported by the continuous assistance of both Bachand and Associates and Provost and Pritchard Engineers. MAGSA’s General Manager Matt Hurley commented that “We have one of the most competent and cohesive professional, outreach and landowner collaborations on this team. We are in truly in great hands as we develop the solutions for MAGSA’s future. We can’t wait to get this Project moving forward!”