Coca-Cola, Laguna Irrigation District and other partners have announced the completion of a groundwater recharge project for farmland between Laton and Naval Air Station Lemoore.

The project, located in Kings and Fresno counties, is slated to put an average of 2,600 acre-feet of water back into the ground annually.

The cooperative venture was first proposed in 2013. It received a major boost when the California Department of Water Resources announced a $906,000 seed grant for the project in February 2014.

An acre-foot of water is roughly enough to keep a third of an acre of farmland in production for a year. In urban terms, it's enough to meet the needs of an average home for 12-18 month.

Currently, there is major groundwater overdraft going on. Kings County farmers and surrounding growers take more water out of the ground than is being replenished with surface water from mountain river runoff collected in reservoirs.

The average annual overdraft of the Kings River basin is 150,000-200,000 acre-feet a year.

The project is likely to shore up the water level in wells that rural homes and farms in the vicinity of the recharge project count on for their water supply.

Coca-Cola contributed $250,000 toward the $1.5 million project. Other contributors included the California Department of Water Resources and Laguna Irrigation District.

Sustainable Conservation, a Bay Area nonprofit organization, coordinated Coca-Cola's involvement.

Coca-Cola, which has a bottling plant near Dinuba in Tulare County that uses groundwater, has a companywide goal of replenishing every quart of water it uses for its beverages by 2020.

The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. Follow him on Twitter @snidever.

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