The North San Joaquin Water Conservation District has petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board for an extension of time to place water in its Tracy Lake Recharge Project as part of a pending water rights permit.
The district posted on its website a notice of intent to petition the control board, in which it asked for an extension to Dec. 1, 2040.
Lodi attorney Jennifer Spaletta, who represents the district, said a petition to ask for a time extension is common when agencies have pending water rights permits.
Spaletta said the SWRCB issues the permits to agencies that has a timeframe identifying when they need to put their water to use.
“Essentially what (the state) is saying is, ‘If you want to use this much water, then you have to have a permit,’” she said. “But they also say, ‘You’re not going to hoard it. You have to use it by a given time.’”
Spaletta said the district originally applied for a water rights permit in the 1950s. She said the district has received several extensions since that time, with the last application filed in 2010.
That last request had been in the pending stage, she said.
In addition, the district has petitioned the board to expand the permit’s place of use to the district’s current boundaries, as well as add more underground storage as a purpose of use under the permit.
The district’s current western boundary travels through the center of Lodi to Bear Creek in the south, and along the Mokelumne River to the north side of Tracy Lake in the north. The eastern boundary currently travels along Alliance Creek from just north of Mosher Creek in the south, through Bear Creek and the Mokelumne River toward the lake in the north. The proposed expansion would extend the boundaries to the county lines in the north and east.
The expansion was proposed to be in conjunction with the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission boundaries adopted 10 years ago, Spaletta said.
“It’s basically a cleanup to make sure the county water we plan to use is within the same boundaries as our own,” she said.
The district has also petitioned to add two new points of diversion to the recharge project.
The first would be the existing diversion point used by Woodbridge Irrigation District at Lodi Lake, which currently diverts water to the Lodi Water Treatment Plant. No new construction would be required, according to NSJWCD officials.
The second would be a new structure located five miles northwest of Lodi Lake along the river, which would serve the Tracy Lake Groundwater Recharge Project.
There are currently three diversion points for the project along the river between Lodi and the Camanche Reservoir. A fourth is located at the reservoir.
The project involves the construction of an intake structure with fish screen in the Mokelumne River to prevent carrying sensitive species such as steelhead trout and salmon into the existing Tracy Lake.
A pump station would also be constructed on the adjacent bank, along with an approximately 1,000-foot-long, 30-inch diameter pipeline to carry water to the lake.
District officials said the project will divert up to 40 cubic feet per second to the lake for groundwater recharge and direct use for agricultural irrigation.
Spaletta said there are two lakes on the project site, and the district is recharging the southern body of water, which is 16 feet deep and about 100 acres in size.
The project will pull water from the Mokelumne River to land owned by Dan Leonard off Forest Lake Road in Acampo to create a year-round lake. Spaletta said in its current state, Tracy Lake cannot be used in the spring due to decreased water levels at that time of year.
Once this is complete, local growers will be able to use the water on crops while some trickles down to restore groundwater levels in the area.
The project is estimated to cost $1.6 million and is being funded in part by a $300,000 U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Water and Energy Efficiency Grant.
Property assessments within the NSJWCD boundaries are funding the remaining balance, Spaletta said.
Construction timelines depend on when necessary permits are approved. District officials expect the permits to be approved this spring, with construction of the intake structure and fish screen in the river to last between June 1 and Sept. 30.
A 30-day public review period for the project’s negative declaration began Feb. 4 and will end March 6 at 5 p.m. Written comments on the document, including email, will be accepted during the comment period. Postmarks will not be accepted if received after the close of the public review period.
The document can be viewed online at www.nsjgroundwater.org. Written comments should be addressed to North San Joaquin Water Conservation District, P.O. Box E, Victor, CA 95253, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at email@example.com.