Overdrafting credulity on the east side

Submitted: Sep 24, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Journalists shouldn't take at face value the public utterances of other peoples' consultants, for example the Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group, in the pay of the Eastside Water District, a mysterious institution that lacks any surface water to distribute.

We may be over-emphasizing a small point, but when the consultant said:

“The groundwater pumping has caused a ‘cone of depression’ and groundwater overdraft to occur,” said a report on the project by the Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group in Modesto. “This is due to the lack of a surface water supply that could offer groundwater recharge in the area and lead to a sustainable supply.”

...we thought it was flak gone too far, so we imagined a few questions that went like this:

1.Isn't the overdrafting of the eastside aquifer caused by overdrafting. i.e. pumping too much water out of the aquifer?

2. How can it be the responsibility of the known lack of surface water supply?

3. Is it possible that the increase in orchards requiring permanent, year-in-year-out irrigation, replacing seasonal pastures which require no irrigation, is the real reason for the overpumping?

4. Is it possible that the farmers, including those involved in the Eastside Water District, more responsible for the overdraft of the east side than the "lack of surface water supply"?

5. How can "a lack" be responsible for anything?

 

9-21-15

Modesto Bee

Eastside Water District plans for recharge

Groundwater-dependent farmers could capture surface flows in wet years

Project would boost stressed aquifer in eastern Stanislaus and Merced counties

Farmers would cover $6 million construction cost

John Holland

http://www.modbee.com/news/article36071856.html

The Eastside Water District, which serves part of eastern Stanislaus and Merced counties, will lay out plans Thursday for a groundwater recharge project.

The 61,200-acre district, which has no river water rights, proposes to construct basins that would capture wet-year flows from a Turlock Irrigation District canal and Sand and Mustang creeks. The recharge could be as much as 6,500 acre-feet per year, a small part of Eastside’s demand but a step toward fixing one of the region’s most stressed aquifers.

Eastside landowners would cover the estimated $6 million construction cost, as well as operating expenses. Under state law, the assessment could not go through if a majority of them object.

The project will be discussed at a Thursday morning meeting in Turlock, which could include setting a hearing where farmers could protest.

Eastside was established in 1985 in an area that has had groundwater problems since the 1950s. It extends generally northeast from the intersection of East Avenue and Hickman Road, almost to Turlock Lake.

“The groundwater pumping has caused a ‘cone of depression’ and groundwater overdraft to occur,” said a report on the project by the Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group in Modesto. “This is due to the lack of a surface water supply that could offer groundwater recharge in the area and lead to a sustainable supply.”

The project would provide an estimated 2,500 acre-feet in years when excess storm water collects in TID’s Highline Canal. Another 4,000 acre-feet could come from the creeks.

Eastside farmers would pay up to $30 per acre per year to build the project to start. The figure would be adjusted for inflation over the 10-year buildout. The charges would be roughly $20 to $30 per year in the ensuing 15 years.

The district also proposes to become the “groundwater sustainability agency” for its acreage, as required by a new state law aimed at improving management of aquifers.

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