Located on a large, undeveloped section of the Kern River’s sandy alluvial fan, the Kern Water Bank covers nearly 30 square miles over California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. Ideally situated, both for its unique geology and its proximity to water supply and delivery systems, the Kern Water Bank plays a dual role in California’s economically vital agricultural heartland.
The Kern Water Bank provides an efficient, reliable and environmentally sound water source for both local urban water supplies and hundreds of thousands of acres of essential crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, fiber and livestock used in products enjoyed by consumers throughout California.
A nationally recognized native plant and wildlife habitat conservation program that is restoring critical intermittent wetland and upland habitat to their natural state and protecting endangered species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, Tipton kangaroo rat, and San Joaquin wooly threads.
The Kern Water Bank stores excess water supplies that are available when rainfall or runoff is plentiful by recharging that water through shallow ponds into an underground aquifer. The stored water is then recovered in times of need by pumping it out with wells.
The 30 square miles of open space used to store critical underground water supplies for the residents of Bakersfield and farmers in Kern County also serve another very important function—located above the ground. Over 17,000 acres of former famland have been restored to upland and intermittant wetland habitat.
The conversion of farmland to habitat has resulted in a significant increase in the number of sensitive species that live on the water bank. Since 1994, that list has grown from 10 species to 34 - due in large part to the addition of shallow recharge basins that provide diverse habitat to a wide variety of water dependant bird species.