- Author: Rachael Long
Guest post from Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Yolo County
The Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (YCFC) is an agency that supplies water to farmers in northern California. The agency is at the forefront of innovative efforts aimed at banking groundwater by diverting flood waters into their unlined canals. This gives flood waters time to infiltrate soils and recharge groundwater.
Using a water right permit that they recently obtained from California's State Water Resources Control Board, flood waters from recent storms are being captured from Cache Creek as it enters the Sacramento Valley. YCFC recently opened their lateral gates, allowing the flood waters to flow into their canals.
With a new series of automatic gates, YCFC can now regulate the flows along their canals. The computer-operated gates replace older systems that required manually pulling wooden boards to control flow rates. As more canals are updated with these automatic gates, more flood water can be put into the canals to help recharge groundwater.
This is the first time YCFC has tried this approach for recharging groundwater. As they experiment, there is a lot to learn, particularly when it comes to understanding how quickly water infiltrates the soil along the canals.
This kind of effort fits nicely with many other UC research efforts focused on groundwater, including intentionally using flood irrigation to recharge aquifers. UC Cooperative Extension is leading research and outreach efforts on ways to enhance recharge and groundwater storage in agricultural landscapes.