- Written by: Thomas Esqueda, City of Fresno Director of Public Utilities
Water Infrastructure Improvements Planned to Ensure Sustainable Water Supply for Fresno
Safe, clean and reliable water is a fundamental component of healthy, vibrant and economically advantaged communities. The City of Fresno is recommending a long-term water infrastructure improvement program that would provide this assurance through construction of critical facilities to reduce our dependence on a rapidly declining groundwater source, and maximized use of surface water entitlements that Fresno already pays for but can’t use.
The plan – known as Recharge Fresno – has been in the making for decades, but laws and regulations have changed, making decisions even more critical now.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: In 2014 the State of California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which requires the management and use of groundwater … without causing “undesirable results,” such as lowering groundwater levels, significant reduction of groundwater storage and degraded water quality. The City of Fresno currently faces these challenges and overdrafts groundwater, taking more water from the ground than is replenished. Overdrafting is not allowed under the new state law.
TCP in Drinking Water: Fresno also faces more stringent federal and state groundwater quality standards for 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), a known pollutant found in many wells in Fresno.
Fortunately, unlike many California communities, Fresno has options. Recharge Fresno is the City’s water plan to address these challenges and ensure a sustainable water future for Fresno. The recently proposed five-year water rate increase would fund $429 million in critical system improvements including:
- Intentional Groundwater Recharge: Storing water for percolation underground to recharge our groundwater supply and replenish that resource so it is available during dry years. Balanced groundwater use will always be part of our future.
- Raw Water Supply: Capturing surface water from mountains and rivers, and transporting it to Fresno for treatment. During normal years, Fresno’s water entitlements could supply nearly all of Fresno’s water needs.
- Surface Water Treatment: Maximizing use of surface water resources and ensuring clean, safe water for Fresnans. Recharge Fresno includes construction of the 80 million gallon per day Southeast Surface Water Treatment Facility.
- Treated Water Distribution: Improving the pipeline network that will move clean drinking water from treatment facilities and wells to customers throughout the City.
- Rehabilitation/Replacement and System Upgrades: Ensuring useful wells are maintained or replaced, pumping stations are in proper working condition and aging pipelines are replaced.
With the new and pending legislation, Fresno has exhausted our “do nothing” alternatives.
Recharge Fresno, is the City’s plan to invest in and secure our water future. Together, these projects and associated rates will balance our groundwater, secure new water resources, and control Fresno’s water future.