The vast majority of Merced Irrigation District’s water rights are associated with the water it stores and releases at Lake McClure. However, the District has a significant interest in the health and well-being of local groundwater. Since its inception, MID has operated as a “conjunctive-use” district. The District replenishes local groundwater with water from Lake McClure and withdraws it when needed during dryer years when the reservoir has insufficient supplies.

For several decades, MID has taken a lead role in the community’s efforts to address local groundwater challenges. Following the drought in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the city of Merced and MID collaborated on the Merced Water Supply Plan Study. The plan recognized the significance of MID conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater and suggested the practice be expanded. As a result, the district completed numerous water-use and delivery improvements benefitting groundwater.

In 1997, local groundwater purveyors organized under the umbrella of MAGPI (Merced Area Groundwater Pool Interests) began monitoring groundwater conditions. The group also generated a groundwater management plan in 1998, updated in 2008. The plan addressed groundwater issues and made recommendations for use and recharge.

In 2014 the State of California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The law both enabled and required local communities to address their own local groundwater challenges through the implementation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans. Failure to comply with the state mandate would trigger the State Water Resources Control Board implementing its own plan for our local groundwater.

Today, MID continues to work with others in the community as a member of the joint Merced Irrigation Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency. The agency is collaboratively working to monitor and reduce overuse of groundwater in eastern Merced County. MID is also a partner to the East Turlock Groundwater Sustainability Agency which overlaps norther Merced County and borders the north side of the Merced River.

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