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Kern County banks more groundwater than ever before

Lake Isabella is seen in a KBAK/KBFX file photo from January 2017.
Lake Isabella is seen in a KBAK/KBFX file photo from January 2017.
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The winter and spring of 2017 will be remembered as featuring a string of wet months in California.

There was so much precipitation this year that Gov. Jerry Brown declared the statewide years-long drought over. Possibly no area of the state benefited more from all that rain and snow than Kern County.

"In the Kern Fam Banking Projects alone, we've brought in over 900,000 acre-feet as of October 31st," said Holly Melton, water resources manager for the Kern County Water Agency.

The more than 900,000 acre-feet is a record for groundwater banking in Kern County. The previous record was just barely over 700,000.

Not to mention the county banked more than half of all groundwater collected throughout the entire San Joaquin Valley.

So how much water is that?

A football field is 1 acre of land. An acre-foot is an acre of land covered in 1 foot of a substance. So the groundwater banked in Kern County is enough to cover more than 900,000 football fields with a foot of water.

This groundwater will remain dormant in underground aquifers until it is needed.

"In dry years, that water is recovered from wells and delivered to water users," said Melton. "So bringing in this surplus water and recharging our groundwater basin is going to ensure we have water supply to meet future needs."

While all of this is great news for the county and for water users throughout the county, it doesn't mean water can be used just for the sake of it.

"The drought may be over, but the effects are still being felt," she said. "We live in a desert region. Water conservation needs to be a way of life."

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It is also worth noting the 900,000 acre-feet is just one agency's banking efforts, and divisions from other municipalities banked an additional 300,000 acre-feet within the borders of Kern County.

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