NewsCalifornia Drought


Kern County Water Agency declares water supply emergency

Califronia Drought
Posted at 3:31 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 18:31:30-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — On Wednesday, the Kern County Water Agency has declared a water supply emergency due to the shortage of water supplies for Kern County. This is after an announcement by the California Department of Water Resources declaring that water supply allocation is zero percent.

The announcement is unprecedented since the previous lowest allocation was five percent in 2010 and 2014. This means that the Agency will receive no SWP water in 2022, which is the third consecutive year of dry weather, leaving the county at an all-time low.

Kern River’s water supplies are also the second driest on record leaving the smallest carryover balances in Isabella Reservoir since its existence.

“This declaration should make all aware that these are extraordinary times for Kern County. Given these dry conditions, coordination and cooperation among local, State, and federal agencies will be required to maximize and optimize California’s very limited water resources.” Said Royce Fast, Agency Board of Directors (Board) President.

During this shortage, Kern County farmers are expected to rely on groundwater basin to make up the shortage.

The Agency Member Units will be forced to continue recovering water from the approximately 1.6 million acre-feet currently stored in the Kern Fan banking projects and to pay the costs to recover these groundwater supplies in addition to the $155 million paid for SWP water not received in 2022.

“To get through these extreme dry conditions, local farmers and others will look to water stored in groundwater banks in previous wet years. Unfortunately, groundwater reserves have been depleted in recent years with dry hydrology and the effects of regulatory restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Groundwater banks must be replenished consistently to be a viable resource. Ultimately, water shortages have a direct impact on Kern County’s economic health,” added Fast.

Agency staff is working with local water districts to find ways to minimize the impacts of a third dry year, but those possibilities are stretched thin. Dramatically improved hydrologic conditions in the coming months could improve water supply conditions.