In working with the Turlock Irrigation District (TID), grower Eric Spycher’s groundwater recharge efforts are proving successful. He explained the process in a recent episode of the Almond Journey Podcast from the Almond Board of California. In the first year of the collaborative project, there were marked improvements to groundwater levels in local wells. Farming primarily in Delhi soils, Spycher said it made his operation a good fit for the project.
“We put out I believe it was 14 inches per acre. So, over an acre-foot on the parcel that we irrigated. It was a 40-acre parcel and I think we only did about 10 or 15 acres of it because of the time it took to get the water to spread out,” said Spycher. “That’s one irrigation. Typically, a flood irrigation for me would have been three to four inches of water in the past. So this ground was so dry, even with all the rain, that it took quite a while to get the water to move across it.”
One of the reasons the process was made possible was TID’s installation of control gates from Rubicon. Automating the system has allowed for better data collection and administration of water flows in real-time. Spycher said that the particular parcel they were using for the groundwater recharge project is strictly reliant on surface water. However, the data provided through the project will be significant for overall efforts to address groundwater supplies in the district. It has already made a notable impact on wells in the area.
“After four inches of rain, and basically about 14 inches of surface water that we put on – so a total of 18 inches – they had wells that came up as much as 30 feet,” Spycher explained. “Most of them came up 20 feet and these are in a groundwater strata of around 200 feet plus/minus.”
Listen to the segment below.