North Kern Water Storage District was organized in 1935 and comprises approximately 60,000 acres of agricultural land north of the City of Bakersfield, west of Highway 99, and east of the cities of Shafter and Wasco. The District adopted its “Project Report” in 1950 and implemented the described improvements shortly thereafter.
Fundamentally, the Project provided for the District to purchase the right in perpetuity to all water accruing under various Kern River “pre-1914” water rights. Because the River rights purchased by North Kern were largely “junior” and subject to large swings in yield depending on River hydrology, the Project also described a series of projects focused on “re-regulating” these highly variable supplies for the primary purpose of “maintaining economic pumping lifts” for landowners within the District. Re-regulation was primarily to be accomplished through construction and operation of “recharge/spreading ponds” to maximize the capture of wetter year River supplies accruing to the rights, and groundwater wells to “recover” previously recharged water in drier years when surface supplies accruing to the rights were limited. Later (in the 1960’s) the District contracted with the United States to acquire “conservation storage” capacity in Lake Isabella as a means to further re-regulate its Kern River supplies. Isabella “surface storage” is used by the District to supplement “groundwater storage” associated with the District’s recharge and recovery activities.
To supplement its “base” Kern River supplies described above, the District entered into an additional Kern River water supply contract with the City of Bakersfield in 1976. Although the “basic term” of this contract expired at the end of 2011, the contract continues pursuant to “extension term” provisions and is expected to continue to provide water supplies to the District in the future, particularly during wetter years. In addition to its Kern River supplies the District uses occasional flows available from Poso Creek and takes advantage of the other supplies available directly or through exchange from State Water Project and Federal Central Valley Project sources.
The water supplies described above have allowed the District to maintain a positive long-term water supply balance.
Since 1980 North Kern has also administered, operated, and provided supplemental surface water supplies (independent of the District’s Kern River supplies) to the Rosedale Ranch Improvement District (RRID). RRID is comprised of about 10,000 acres most of which is developed for agriculture. The character of RRID is in the process of change due to the transition of agricultural lands to urban land uses. North Kern and RRID share management and operating personnel, but rely on separate water supplies and are financially independent.