SACRAMENTO — Jan. 15, 2016 — California’s State Water Resources Control Board issued its first temporary groundwater storage permit, allowing the Scott Valley Irrigation District to capture high winter and spring flows for local groundwater storage and recharge, according to a press release.

This is expected to be the first in a series of temporary permits issued by the State Water Board for this type of water diversion and use, noted the release.

“The predicted high rainfall events associated with El Niño this year provide an opportunity for accelerating groundwater recharge that we so critically need,” commented Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Board, in the release. “This is the first of what we hope are many new opportunities for creative thinking and community effort to take advantage of storm flows everywhere we can. My thanks to everyone who helped allow us to turn this around in just a few days.”

The temporary permit application was submitted on January 13 by the Irrigation District in coordination with staff at the University of California at Davis, the California Farm Bureau Federation, Scott River Water Trust and others, stated the release. The permit was issued on January 15.

Under the plans, up to 5,400 acre-feet of water will be diverted during high water events using existing diversion structures. Water will be diverted from the Scott River using the District’s unlined earthen canal system and spread onto as many as 3,475 acres of existing, dormant agricultural fields within the District’s service area for infiltration.

According to the State Water Board, capturing high flows in this way can reduce downstream flood risk and alleviate the effects of heavy groundwater pumping in the short term, as well as demonstrate the feasibility of using available high water flows to recharge local groundwater, reported the release.

The winter diversion to underground storage is also anticipated to enhance approximately 26 miles of habitat for fisheries downstream of the District’s diversion dam by increasing groundwater base flow to the Scott River, improving conditions for salmonids, shared the release.

You can find the entire release here.