Clovis is paying for a new water bank in western Fresno County through an agreement with Fresno Irrigation District to supply water once new development occurs in the city.
Clovis City Council members approved a $5.5 million agreement Monday night with the irrigation district, which will build the water bank.
The bank will supply water to future development in the city that is outside the irrigation district borders and does not have a water supply dedicated to it.
The new water bank is near North and Jameson avenues, southeast of Kerman. The city expects to receive 4,500 acre-feet from the water bank. An acre-foot is equal to about 326,000 gallons, enough to supply one home for one year.
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Since the water bank is downstream from the city, the Fresno Irrigation District will exchange water from its canal system for an equal amount of water from the bank that will go to its users on the west side of Fresno County.
City officials said they did not want to use more wells to supply the city and increase the overdraft of underground water supplies.
The financial terms allow the city to pay Fresno Irrigation District $2 million within 60 days and then pay $500,000 annually until the debt is cleared.
The city has reserves to make the payments as a result of a water rate increase approved in 2009, said Mike Leonardo, the city's public works director.
The city will pay $163 per acre-foot for the water, but will buy water only as needed.
Paying for the water bank now guarantees the city a supply of water later and at a "bargain" rate, Leonardo said.
The city will likely need the water if there is a drought, when water will cost more.
"It will be a dry year when the city makes the call for that water, and I will have people knocking on my door offering $500 an acre-foot," said Gary Serrato, Fresno Irrigation District general manager.
Clovis has been paying an average of $30 per acre-foot for Fresno Irrigation District water.
The Jameson Groundwater Banking Facility would be the city's second. About five years ago, the city opened its Waldron Pond banking facility, near Belmont and Bishop avenues, west of Fresno, in a similar agreement with Fresno Irrigation District.
Waldron Pond produces about 9,000 acre-feet of water annually.