A series of community meetings are scheduled to update well owners and others on the creation of three new agencies to locally implement California’s new groundwater law. The meetings will take place in Sonoma County’s three groundwater basins immediately affected by California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA): Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley (meeting details below, agenda attached).
The first meeting is slated for Thursday, March 23 in Petaluma, the second meeting will be held onMonday, March 27 in Sonoma and the final meeting is onApril 3 in Santa Rosa. The meetings will include a brief overview of SGMA requirements, followed by a description of the recommended governance structure of the proposed new Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs).
The first requirement of SGMA is the creation of GSAs, which are regulatory bodies responsible for developing and implementing plans to sustainably manage groundwater. To bring an area’s groundwater into sustainability, the GSAs have the ability to regulate groundwater use and to levy fees on users.
Staff representatives from the entities that are eligible to serve as GSAs (see chart below) have been working since 2015 on recommendations to their governing bodies regarding these new agencies. The community meetings will provide an opportunity for the GSA-eligible entity staff to describe the recommendations for GSA formation, and for people to ask questions.
In April and May, the governing boards of the GSA-eligible entities will be making final governance decisions. Public hearings on the creation of the GSAs will be held in each basin in May or June. The deadline for forming GSAs isJune 30, 2017. If local agencies fail to create GSAs, the state will step in to manage groundwater in the three basins.
Petaluma Valley Basin
March 23, 6-8 p.m.
Petaluma Community Center
320 North McDowell Blvd., Petaluma
Sonoma Valley Basin
March 27, 6-8 p.m.
Sonoma Charter School Multi-Purpose Room
17202 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma
Santa Rosa Plain Basin
April 3, 6-8 p.m.
Santa Rosa Utilities Field Office
35 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa
ABOUT SGMA LOCALLY
SGMA was passed into California law in fall 2014. SGMA requires that State-designated medium- and high-priority basins form a GSA(s) and develop a groundwater sustainability plan(s). Sonoma County has three medium priority basins: Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma Valley; these basins have to comply with SGMA.
The Sonoma Valley has a voluntary groundwater management plan and Basin Advisory Panel and is in its 9th year of plan implementation. The Santa Rosa Plain adopted a voluntary groundwater management plan in 2014, has a Basin Advisory Panel, and is in the initial stages of implementing that plan. These existing groundwater management plans will remain in effect until new groundwater sustainability plans are developed. The Petaluma Valley has embarked on a study with the U.S. Geological Service to understand its basin. These programs will be incorporated as much as possible when developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan.
The GSA-eligible entities have been meeting since 2015 to understand SGMA requirements and explore options for GSA formation. Basin Advisory Panels (in Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain) have provided input on reaching out to stakeholders and shared ideas on how eligible entities can work together. Public workshops were held in the fall of 2015 and summer of 2016. Staff recommendations on GSA formation will be shared at the community meeting.