California celebrates launch of Orestimba Creek stormwater capture project

July 7, 2023
The project would capture up to 3,500 acre-feet per year of stormwater flows for irrigation, while also reducing flood risks for nearby communities.

California water agencies celebrated the launch of the Orestimba Creek Recharge and Recovery project, which would capture up to 3,500 acre-feet per year of stormwater flows for irrigation while reducing nearby flooding risks.

California’s State Water Resources Control Board joined the Central California Irrigation District (CCID) and Del Puerto Water District (DPWD) in Newman, California to celebrate the project launch. The project is scheduled for completion in June 2024.

The State Water Board committed $5.6 million from its Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to fully fund construction of the project’s recharge ponds and diversion and conveyance structures. To provide needed flexibility to plan for and maximize stormwater capture over successive wet seasons, the board issued its second-ever five-year temporary permit to the water districts in May.

“Thank you to the water districts for their leadership in bringing this project forward,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Board. “I congratulate them on their partnership and their commitment to strengthening water security and mitigating flood risks for their region. It’s an example of how districts can take advantage of our financial assistance and streamlined permitting to make critical investments in water resilience.”

Orestimba Creek is a naturally occurring waterway that flows through both water districts in Stanislaus County. The project permit allows for diversions, beginning with next year’s wet season, to underground storage from approximately 80 acres of percolation ponds to the underlying Delta-Mendota Subbasin. Stored water can then be used to irrigate more than 209,000 acres of farmland or to augment surface water supplies, reducing impacts on the aquifer during critically dry years.

“Reaching the milestone of groundbreaking for any project is exciting, but my reflections today go first to the importance of collaboration and partnerships,” said Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto district. “This locally owned groundwater storage is a first for the Del Puerto District and its landowners, and I hope we can take what we learned and use it as a model for other potential groundwater storage partnership opportunities in the region.”