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Sonoma County Gazette
Groundwater hydrologic cycle

Groundwater Sustainability Fee Adopted in Santa Rosa Plain

Jun 13, 2019


On Thursday, June 13, the Board of Directors of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency approved a groundwater sustainability fee and adopted a groundwater user registration ordinance.


The groundwater sustainability fee of $19.90 per acre-foot of groundwater pumped annually will go into effect on July 13, 2019. While the fee is calculated on actual or estimated groundwater use of everyone in the Santa Rosa Plain subbasin (an area extending from Santa Rosa west to Sebastopol and from Windsor south to Cotati), the fee will be assessed only on major municipal groundwater pumpers: the cities of Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol; the Town of Windsor; and Sonoma Water. Fees paid by municipal water providers will total $101,885 annually (see table below).


A three-year financial contribution of up to $240,000 annually to the GSA by the County of Sonoma and Sonoma Water will offset the fees of residential, agricultural, schools and other groundwater users in the unincorporated areas of the Santa Rosa Plain basin. 


“The GSA Board is grateful to have a funding source that that will provide the financial stability needed to protect and enhance groundwater in the Santa Rosa Plain,” said GSA Board Chair Lynda Hopkins, who also serves as a Sonoma County Supervisor and Sonoma Water Director. “The annual contribution provided by the County and Sonoma Water means that rural residents and others won’t have to pay fees for three years, while the GSA completes the state-required Groundwater Sustainability Plan.”


Municipal Water provider Fees

“The fee reflects the goals of the GSA Board when we started this process: It’s easy to understand, equitable and as low as possible,” said GSA Vice-Chair and Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm. “The groundwater user registration ordinance provides a simple process to collect the data needed for the Groundwater Sustainability Plan.”


The GSA received a $1 million grant to help complete its mandated Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The annual budget of the GSA is $337,000, which includes the non-grant funded costs of completing the plan, plus administrative, legal, community engagement and other expenses.


The groundwater user ordinance will apply to all groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain subbasion. The ordinance will go into effect on July 13, 2019 but will be rolled out over three years and will add groundwater user information to a GSA database. People will be notified via mail about the registration program. They will not be required to take any action, but will have an opportunity to share information with the GSA about their well, water quality issues and groundwater use through an on-line or paper system. A specific roll-out plan for the ordinance will be developed and discussed at future Board meetings.


Go to to view the fee study, fee resolution, groundwater user ordinance and other materials.


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