Westlands Water District (District) has met its ambitious goal of recharging 200,000 acre feet of groundwater and is prepared to capture more. With water still available for recharge, predictions of a wet “El Nino” for California, and strong enthusiasm from District farmers to prioritize groundwater recharge, Westlands has set a new target of recharging 275,000 af of groundwater by the end of this water year on February 29, 2024.
“This outstanding achievement demonstrates the District’s dedication to ensuring a long-term water future in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s prime farmland,” said Allison Febbo, General Manager, Westlands Water District. “This year farmers and the District went from drought to abundance of water supply and quickly pivoted to capture as much water as possible. With over 434 projects approved and a handful more coming online in the next few weeks, the District is in a great position to take advantage or another wet year.”
With increased surface water supply from this past wet winter, Westlands set a goal of recharging 200,000 af of groundwater back into District aquifers. Due to the strong commitment from landowners to implement climate-resilient farming practices and build a sustainable water future, Westlands achieved this ambitious goal early and set a new target of recharging 275,000 af of groundwater by February 29, 2024. Westlands recognizes and appreciates the efforts of dozens of family farms that contributed to achieving our goal and the additional farms coming online soon.
“Farmers in Westlands cautiously recognize that the next drought is only a matter of time and the District’s robust recharge projects will provide a lifeline to hundreds of family-owned farms during periods of prolonged drought,” said Jeff Fortune, Board President. “Updating our target after hitting our goal demonstrates that our farmers’ commitment to sustainability extends beyond rhetoric. We are ‘all-in’ for building a more sustainable water future for the San Joaquin Valley.”
In addition to investing in District projects, since 2019 Westlands has been working with District landowners to establish and invest in on-farm recharge projects, with the goal of using abundant water supply (when available) to improve groundwater levels in the lower and upper aquifers. To date, over 434 recharge projects have been processed and over 285 projects recharged thus far.
With predictions signaling the potential for another wet winter, the District will continue to prioritize groundwater recharge efforts but has also adjusted schedules for select infrastructure projects to ensure efficient water delivery to landowners. While mother nature is unpredictable, the District is doing what it can to be ready for another wet winter.