Smith and others said that additional reservoir storage is needed to capture water during rainy years and save it for dry years.
Rudy Hernandez, who manages pistachio ranches in Kern and Fresno counties, said he has seen the disparity between infrastructure investments and a lack of them.
The Westlands Water District west of Fresno, for example, has historically relied on federal surface water deliveries. Although individuals have sunk new wells since the past drought, the district as a whole hasn’t made large-scale investments in alternative water sources.
But the Semitropic Water Storage District in Kern County began a groundwater banking program in the early 1990s during the state’s last prolonged drought. The program is designed to reduce groundwater overdraft and increase water delivery reliability for the 136,000 or so irrigated acres within the district.
George Soares, a managing partner of the legal firm Kahn, Soares & Conway LLP, Hanford, Calif., said five to six water bond measures are in various stages of development as possible 2014 ballot proposals.
An $11.9 billion water bond, dubbed the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act, was planned for a public vote in 2009.
It was withdrawn after supporters determined voters wouldn’t pass it. But Soares said he believed the time was right to present it to voters.