Agriculture · Hanford

Lemoore launches salvo against effort to swipe to Kings River floodwater

Lemoore is speaking out against the efforts of an out of town water entity to export water from the Kings River.

The Lemoore City Council approved a letter in opposition to a petition to revoke the Fully Appropriated Stream (FAS) status of the Kings River on Tuesday.

The letter is directed to the State Water Resources Control Board, which is hearing a petition from Kern County water agency Semitropic Water Storage District to revoke the FAS status.

With the FAS status, the state has determined that the Kings River has insufficient supply for new water right applications.

Revoking the status would allow Semitropic to export water from the Kings River in an attempt that has stretched back a couple of years.

The California water board started its formal review last January of a Semitropic project that would potentially be used for recharging the aquifer, irrigating agriculture and selling to Southern California water users, as detailed in a series by The Sun.

“Lemoore is located within the Kings River place of use and benefits from the local use of Kings River water,” the letter reads. “As our community faces another historic drought, those benefits are called into question.”

Lemoore notes in the letter that Semitropic is not part of the Kings River place of use and has not had access to Kings River water in the past.

“In effect, Semitropic is trying to export Kings River water out of its designated place of use and away from our region and our constituents. If successful, Semitropic’s efforts will lay the groundwork for the exportation of Kings River water in conflict with existing licenses and to the detriment of the communities that need it the most,” the letter reads.

“This will have an immediate and adverse effect on lemoore and its residents. Aside from these concerns, Lemoore also recognizes the various regulatory consequences that would result if Semitropic is successful in these efforts.”

As noted in the letter, much of the area within the Kings River place of use is designated as “critically overdrafted,” per the direction of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

“All Kings River flows are currently being utilized for direct diversion for irrigation, urban use through surface water treatment plants, and groundwater recharge projects in their respective Kings River places of use. To export these flows to Kern County would be to deprive the region of the water necessary to meet existing and future demands and SGMA’s various mandates,” the letter reads.

“Lemoore opposes Semitropic’s petition to revoke the Fully Appropriated Stream Status of the Kings River and its complaint alleging forfeiture of certain KRWA water rights licenses. If Semitropic is successful in these proceedings, communities within the Kings River region will be hit the hardest. Our Kings River water needs to remain in our communities.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.