What is in this article?:
- One of the largest agricultural water districts in California and a leading environmental organization have completed a joint study that shows how both interests can benefit from operating major storage reservoirs in conjunction with groundwater basins.
If implemented, the project would also be designed to generate net economic benefits so that the program can be self‐financing. To do this, the project must be able to generate revenues that more than offset the expenditures associated with project implementation, including construction, operation, maintenance and any mitigation costs. The economic analysis did not assign a monetary value to the environmental benefits that would accrue, even though the potential increase in salmon productivity could be quite substantial. Rather, the economic analysis was conducted to determine whether the revenue from the sale of water generated by the project alone would be large enough to pay for the capital and operational costs. The net economic benefit varies depending primarily on where the water generated by the project can be sold and, to some extent, on whether new wells are constructed or the project is operated using primarily existing wells.
GCID’s General Manager Thaddeus Bettner, the agricultural district partner, explains that, “this detailed study and investigation has shown that there is the capacity to reoperate existing surface water reservoirs and generate new yield to the system to benefit the environment and water users with minimal risk. What we have learned is that with every decision we make with our current infrastructure is that there are trade-offs that require real time decision making to identify the best benefits when re-operating a system. We are hopeful that this study will help policy makers, project operators, water users, and our neighbors understand the balance of these trade-offs and benefits.”
The potential benefits relative to risks revealed through this investigation suggest that further efforts to develop and implement conjunctive water management in the Sacramento Valley are warranted. A number of specific recommendations for further development and refinement of Sacramento Valley conjunctive water management are provided in the report, including evaluating the effects of climate change, reconciling tradeoffs among different types of environmental water uses, conducting more detailed water temperature modeling, and options for minimizing or eliminating reliance on Sacramento Valley aquifers to pay back the reservoirs.
The entire report can be downloaded at:
D:\Dropbox\NHI Documents for Sharing\NSVCWMP Report Final_20120925.pdf