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 the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting.
Phase 1 was constructed in 2012-2018 and diverts 150 cubic feet per second (cfs) of flood and storm flows at the James Bypass onto approximately 5,000 acres of private farmland. Phase 2 is currently under design and when constructed will increase the diversion and recharge capacity from 150 cfs to 450 cfs and increase the potential farmland acreage for receiving flood and storm flows for OFR by about 15,000 acres.
Phase 2 utilizes agreements between various public agencies and will be operated in partnership with Raisin City Water District, which will provide matching funds through a U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant award. Phase 2 will rely upon and promote regional collaboration in managing water resources and facilitate the setting of regional priorities and increased self-reliance. 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 MAGSA and the Kings Subbasin. This would certainly be a model for State and Federal cooperation.
The project represents a large-scale demonstration project of OFR for improved and more integrated groundwater and surface waters. The project is the type envisioned by the California Department of Water Resource’s FloodMAR approach, in which OFR projects are a key component in changing statewide management that ranges from local and regional water projects to re-operation of the state and federal reservoirs for an integrated surface water and groundwater storage system that can accommodate California’s variable water supply under the changing climate.
MAGSA, through its contractor Tetra Tech, are preparing the required environmental analysis and documentation. A draft California Environmental Quality Assessment document is expected to be available for public review during the Fall of 2021. A draft National Environmental Policy Assessment document is expected to be available for public review during the Winter of 2021-22.