What a wonderful water year it has been.

We have had water in the Kern River through Bakersfield since February and it is now October. What a beautiful difference this has made in the community as a whole. It has been an aesthetic and recreational paradise and has continuously recharged our groundwater for future use.

My daily commute is along the Kern River running through our beautiful city so I have been able to observe and enjoy many of the sites and sounds made possible by this phenomenon. I have heard the whitewater rushing underneath me as I cross the pedestrian bicycle bridge at Riverwalk Park. On that same bridge, I have seen hundreds of families and couples taking a walk and soaking in the natural wonder of the surroundings. In the early mornings and evenings, I have shared with others the joys of the beautiful sunrise and sunsets across the water. In the midday summer sun, I have had the pleasure of watching families playing together in the water at Beach Park, Yokuts Park and Riverwalk Park. The waterfowl along the Kern River through town has been spectacular; this year I have delighted in the flocks of ducks, the great white herons and the ever present hawks. The Bike Bakersfield Full Moon Rides along the Kern River gave many families and friends the opportunity to appreciate and absorb the natural beauty of our community as the sun set in the west and the moon was rising in the east. Many times while bicycling along the Kern River by moonlight, I would luxuriate in the quiet and absorb the beauty of the city lights reflecting off of the water.

All of the above is wonderful and provides quality of life benefits to our community that is spectacular but hard to measure. What we can measure is the amount and benefit of the groundwater recharge that is taking place every minute of every day that water is flowing in the Kern River through our community. This year we have recharged well over 130,000 acre feet of water by flowing water in the Kern River and beyond in the city of Bakersfield’s 2,800 acre recharge facility just west of the urban portion of our city. This has been made possible by a number of factors — the most important is that we had a great winter last year and therefore had a snowpack that was almost 200 percent of normal. We have also worked hard to make sure that we did not waste this opportunity and stored as much as possible in our underground reservoir. Much of this effort is in collaboration with the various water districts that the city works with to deliver water to our agricultural community. I want to personally thank all of them for their willingness to work together for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Early in the year we worked with the Kern County Water Agency on behalf of multiple agencies including themselves and were able to have water in the Kern River from the Friant Kern Canal which terminates at the Kern River near Coffee Road and all four of the Cross Valley Canal Turnouts. We worked with North Kern Water Storage District to deliver water after it flows through the city. Its water was delivered near Riverwalk Park and then into a canal system and on to the agricultural fields. Kern County Water Agency also has helped by delivering some of its urban water allotment from the state water project into the Kern River near Golden State Avenue and then flowing through our city. We have also worked with Buena Vista Water Storage District, Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Kern Delta Water District, West Kern Water District, Rosedale Rio Bravo Water Storage District and the Henry Miller Water District to move and store water using the Kern River through the city of Bakersfield.

Water in the Kern River through Bakersfield is an exceptional quality of life amenity and an economic driver for the community at large. Water recharged into our underground reservoir is critical for the long term sustainability of our community.

What a wonderful water year it has been.

Bob Smith is the Bakersfield Ward 4 councilman, board member of the Kern River Groundwater Sustainability Agency and chairman of the City of Bakersfield Water Board.