Harvest Water

Recycled Water for Crop Irrigation, Groundwater Restoration, Habitat Protection, and Regional Sustainability

Overview

Regional San, in collaboration with regional stakeholders, is developing Harvest Water (formerly called the South County Ag Program). Harvest Water will offer multiple benefits, including providing a safe and reliable supply of tertiary-treated water for agricultural operations, reducing groundwater pumping, supporting habitat protection efforts, and providing near-term benefits to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. 

Latest Update February 2023

In the fourth quarter of 2022, the Harvest Water team worked with staff from the Department of California Fish & Wildlife to fine tune the program’s Ecosystem benefits and develop the ecosystem Public Benefits contract and Adaptive Management Plan. The team also met with the State Water Resources Control Board on the water quality Public Benefits contract and Adaptive Management Plan. Meanwhile, work continued on the development of the Groundwater Accounting and Conjunctive Use Project, including developing a draft groundwater monitoring plan and performing baseline groundwater measurements.

By the end of 2022, Regional San had received Harvest Water grant reimbursements totaling $12.9 million from early funding under its primary funding source, California’s Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). The team continued outreach to potential recycled water customers while working on the recycled water user service agreement template. Over 42,200 AFY of agricultural water demand was accounted for in the Letters of Intent received through December 2022.

On the infrastructure side, the Harvest Water Pumping Station and Elk Grove Transmission Main reached their 60% design milestones. Other pipeline segments—the Franklin/Eschinger, Central/South, and West Distribution Pipelines—neared 100% design. Lastly, 50% design drawings for the On Farm Connection Assemblies were submitted for review by staff. 

Background

Harvest Water is being developed by Regional San and has the potential to deliver up to 50,000 acre-feet per year (AFY) of drought-resistant recycled water to irrigate more than 16,000 acres of local permanent agriculture and habitat conservation lands in south Sacramento County. The recycled water will be used in-lieu of pumping groundwater. Additionally, Harvest Water will include ecosystem management activities and wintertime application of recycled water for wildlife habitat purposes. The California Water Commission announced that Regional San will receive up to $291.8 million in Proposition 1 grant funding through the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) to help make Harvest Water a reality for the Sacramento region. The WSIP funding was awarded based on the public benefits expected as a result of Harvest Water.

The Harvest Water team is currently conducting extensive outreach and coordination with local growers and beginning preliminary design for the pump station and distribution system to convey recycled water from the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant near Elk Grove to agricultural lands in southern Sacramento county. 

Harvest Water Service Area (blue) and planned transmission line (orange)

click map to enlarge

Costs and Funding

The costs to implement Harvest Water are currently estimated at approximately $444.2 million, encompassing planning, design, and capital costs.

The California Water Commission announced that Regional San will receive up to $291.8 million in Proposition 1 grant funding through the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) to help make Harvest Water a reality for the Sacramento region. The WSIP funding was awarded based on the public benefits expected as a result of Harvest Water.

In addition, Regional San was awarded $5.9 million in grant funding from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBR) Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse program to support Harvest Water.

Benefits

Harvest Water offers numerous benefits:

  • Increases regional and state water supply reliability through groundwater storage and conjunctive use
  • Provides up to 50,000 acre feet per year of recycled water to irrigate more than 16,000 acres of agricultural lands
  • Improves water quality by restoring groundwater levels and increasing in-stream flows in the Cosumnes River
  • Restores depleted groundwater levels up to 35 feet within 15 years and helps advance the goal of basin sustainability under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Increases volume of groundwater in storage by approximately 225,000 acre-feet within 10 years, and approximately 370,000 acre-feet over the course of the project.
  • Supports and increases riparian and wetland habitat on over 5,000 acres
  • Supports a variety of threatened species, such as Swainson’s Hawk, Sandhill Cranes and Giant Garter Snake
  • Increases frequency of Cosumnes River instream flows to support fall-run Chinook Salmon
  • Supports the State and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation goals for increased use of recycled water
  • Provides reliable agricultural water supplies and drought resiliency

Stakeholders

Regional San has worked extensively with our environmental, agricultural, and water supply partners including:

  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Local farmers
  • Sierra Club
  • City of Elk Grove
  • County of Sacramento
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Environmental Defense Fund
  • Regional Water Authority
  • League of Women Voters
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk
  • Sacramento Area Creeks Council
  • Sacramento County Farm Bureau
  • Sacramento County Water Agency
  • Southgate Recreation & Park District
  • Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
  • Sacramento Water Recycling Coalition
  • Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority
  • Federal and state legislative members

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