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Kings County Leaders Oppose Semitropic Water Storage Project

A Kern County water district sees a major opportunity east of Kettleman City. It’s called the Tulare Lake Storage and Floodwater Protection Project.

Part of it includes a proposed 12,000-acre reservoir, with the potential to hold up to 30,000 acre-feet of floodwater.

“So when there are excess flows from the Kings River, we would move that into a proposed storage site near Kettleman City,” said Jason Gianquinto. “(We would) be able to regulate that into the aqueduct, and then bring that into Kern County through Semitropic’s programs to recharge the groundwater basin to avoid overdraft and enhance our surface water supply.”

Semitropic says they started developing the project as a result of reduced Delta flows and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The extra water would benefit their landowners in Kern County.

But officials in Kings County question how it will affect their ability to comply with the state mandate.

“So when we start talking about allowing water to leave our basin, it’s a real concern for us,” said Kings County Supervisor Craig Pedersen believes more water storage is needed.

The board supports Temperance Flat, and Pedersen believes recharge basins like one, run by Laguna Irrigation District, are beneficial to the county.

But he doesn’t support Semitropic’s project.

“So can we allow for the possibility of a facility to be built that is going to export water out of the region that we know is not sustainable today?” Pedersen said. “So it would be difficult to be comfortable I think, basin-wide, to allow any escape of water.”

Gianquinto says there are multiple benefits to the project, including ecosystem and recreational improvements, as well as flood control in the Tulare Lake lakebed.

Monday, they’ll submit their project proposal to the state. But it could be years before the water district breaks ground on the project.