Three California Water Agencies Awarded Nearly $800,000 to Develop Water Market Strategies

By on October 8, 2018

Three California water agencies are among the seven total agencies that will share in $1.3 million from the Bureau of Reclamation to establish or expand water markets or water marketing activities. The four other water agencies receiving Reclamation funds for water market strategies are located in Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma and the state of Washington.

The three California water agencies receiving a combined total of $792,999 and their funded projects include:

County of Madera for the Madera County Water Marketing Strategy Development & Pilot Program

Reclamation Funding: $199,999                            Total Project Cost: $399,999

The Madera County Department of Water and Natural Resources in California will develop a water marketing strategy and pilot program to address a 160,000 acre-foot per year critical overdraft within the Madera County groundwater basin. The marketing strategy will give Madera County groundwater pumpers the ability to engage in temporary transfers to reallocate the available water on a supply-and-demand basis, with a cap on total use. This approach will promote sustainability while increasing water management flexibility between agricultural entities in Madera County. Multiple stakeholders support Madera County’s strategy including individual communities, agricultural interests and water providers, who are committed to participate in the planning process. In developing the strategy, the Madera County will analyze legal constraints, research existing marketing approaches, assess potential impacts, opportunities and financial benefits, develop draft rules and a legal framework and conduct a small-scale marketing pilot program.

Inland Empire Utilities Agency for the Chino Basin Water Bank Strategic Plan

Reclamation Funding: $400,000                            Total Project Cost: $1,666,949

In conjunction with the City of Ontario, Cucamonga Valley Water District and Monte Vista Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency will develop and implement a water marketing strategy for aquifer storage and recovery in the Chino Groundwater Basin. This project in Southern California’s San Bernardino County, brings together the region’s water service providers, wastewater service providers, operators of surface water treatment and groundwater recharge facilities along with the Chino Basin adjudication parties to maximize use of the basin’s excess storage capacity to improve drought resiliency using local water supplies. Based on the results of outreach and planning activities, the project partners will develop a model to identify scenarios to optimize operation of the water bank; a financial structure and marketing plan; and an operations plan for the Chino Basin Water Bank as part of their water marketing strategy.

McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency to develop a Groundwater Credit Program for

Landowners with Surface Water Marketing Strategy (within the Kings Sub-basin in the Fresno area)

Reclamation Funding: $193,000                            Total Project Cost: $386,000

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) in Fresno, California is a Joint Powers Authority comprised of the County of Fresno, Mid-Valley Water District and Raisin City Water District, formed in response to California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The McMullin Area GSA is located within Reclamation’s Central Valley Project service area and manages groundwater for predominantly 120,635 acres of agricultural lands. The area is experiencing an average annual groundwater overdraft of 33,000 acre-feet per year as well as declining water quality and land subsidence. The water marketing strategy will develop a groundwater credit program that would allow landowners who do not use all their allocated water to sell or trade the groundwater to other users within the McMullin Area GSA and to coordinate with other agencies that could potentially market to the GSA.

“Water marketing provides communities a solution to move water between willing sellers and buyers within their local delivery areas,” Commissioner Burman said. “A water market is just one of the several tools water managers need to manage water within their communities.”

Water marketing refers to water rights transactions and includes the lease, sale or exchange of water rights undertaken in accordance with state and federal laws between willing buyers and sellers. Water marketing strategy grants are used to conduct planning activities in developing a water marketing strategy. Reclamation works cooperatively with states, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts.