It's a far cry from 2010 wwhen water was 271 feet underground
The pumps in the West Kern Water District’s well field have been turned on now that warm and dry conditions are approaching.
But they won’t have to reach as far to quench domestic and industrial thirst as they did a year ago.
Last year at this time the average production well in the district’s underground storage field north of Tupman had to reach down 225 feet to find water, but this year that level was just 96 feet.
Those figures were among items reported last week by regulatory administrator Gary Hamilton at the monthly meeting of the district board of directors.
Water levels had gone up every month, reaching a peak of 91 feet in February, but that trend, as expected, began to reverse this month, slipping by five feet.
“You’ve got to remember that everybody is pumping now,” Hamilton said. “We reached a high of 61 feet below the surface and now we are seeing a downward trend.”
Water well levels have risen steadily since October of 2010 when they hit 271 feet below the surface.
Records for the last seven years show a high of 62 feet in late 2005 and a low of 279 feet in July of 2009.
Last year’s plentiful precipitation helped restock the underground banking project and get this year’s dry season off to a good start.
The district currently has 258,631 acre-feet of stored water available for use, Hamilton said.
Harry Starkey, the district general manager, said that although the state had a relatively dry winter, recent storms have perked up the mood a little in the water community.
“We are on a positive slope,” he said as he reviewed the northern Sierra precipitation figures. “And we have another storm coming in. If form holds true we will be at 33 inches going into April. Reservoirs are safe.”
Bay Delta issue
Directors unanimously agreed to “stay the course” on the district’s financial commitment to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – a statewide effort to revamp the source of water that comes to the Westside through the State Water Project.
The action will keep WKWD in the plan through July.
“This will allow for our continued direction to the process and will allow us to evaluate more fully the costs and benefits of the project,” Starkey noted in his memo to the board.
The district’s commitment to continue with the study is $108,000.
If the plan is approved West Kern’s share for the Bay Delta project will range from $2.3 million to $4 million, Starkey said.
He stressed the importance of continuing to join with other districts that have a stake in the project.
“One more compelling reason to continue with this is if you are not in the kitchen you’re probably on the menu.”
Most of the county’s water agencies have either approved or are going to approve participation in the project, he said.
A public draft of the Bay Delta plan will be released in July.