Kern River Flow and Municipal Water Program and EIR

Horizon Water and Environment (Horizon) is working closely with the City of Bakersfield Water Resources Department (City) to develop a river restoration and municipal water program on the Kern River. The program will implement City-adopted plans and policies to enhance and protect the natural resources of the Kern River through increasing river flows. Increased river flows will provide benefits of increased groundwater recharge, recreation, and habitat enhancement. The program would allow several thousand acre-feet of surplus water to flow down the Kern River channel seasonally and percolate to the groundwater basin below. The City will draw off of the recharged basin to support its municipal water supply needs.
The Kern River Flow program will use additional water supplies that will become available for City use in 2015 following the expiration of existing water delivery agreements between the City and four agricultural districts. Additionally, Horizon is assisting the City with an application to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to request that surplus unappropriated water be made available to remain in the Kern River to support domestic uses and environmental purposes.
Horizon is developing a comprehensive and legally defensible environmental impact report (EIR) for the City’s proposed program. Horizon is working closely with the City’s legal council to ensure the document will stand through the CEQA compliance period and provide coverage needed to support program implementation and water rights approval from the SWRCB. Challenging issues for the EIR analysis involve evaluation of secondary effects on agricultural water users, potential effects on groundwater levels and quality, and biological resources management. The Draft EIR is scheduled for public review in spring 2012.