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Groundwater Banking

The Semitropic Groundwater Storage Bank is a proven, effective water storage system that began operation in the early 1990s. It is now one of, if not the largest, groundwater banking programs in the world.

Here’s how the program works: In wet years, participating banking partners deliver their surplus water to Semitropic. Currently, there are six banking partners who have delivered approximately 700,000 acre-feet of water to Semitropic, which is enough to supply about 1.4 million households with water for a year.

Whenever necessary, Semitropic returns the stored water to the California Aqueduct for use by its partners either by exchanging its entitlement or by reversing the intake facility, which is called “pumpback.” Through pumpback, Semitropic can deliver a maximum of 90,000 acre-feet of water per year into the California Aqueduct. The state would then deliver the water to the banking partners.

Currently, the district is seeking new water banking partners as the program’s storage and return capacity has been expanded.

Banking project capabilities:

  • Can store a total of 1.65 million acre feet – enough water to meet the yearly needs of approximately 3.3 million households.
  • In a 50 percent State Water Project year, it can provide 356,500 acre-feet of dry year water supply.
  • Can take 315,000 acre-feet per year of surplus wet-year water into storage.
  • Helps supply drought-year water to more than 20 million people in Southern California and in the Bay Area — equivalent to 15 to 20 gallons per person per day.

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