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Well owner survey closing, promising returns


A survey of 9,500 rural well owners that was initiated in December will wrap up on Jan. 15, and will be followed by focus group gatherings to discuss and analyze the returns, which look promising, according to Sonoma Water spokesperson Ann Dubay.

“Staff … will provide a summary update on the survey at the Jan. 25 board meeting, and there will likely be a more thorough discussion at future meetings,” Dubay said.

An initial discussion with the consultant working on the project showed that there has been “about a 17 percent return rate for the Sonoma Valley surveys, which is good. It seems that Sonoma Valley residents understand groundwater issues and the importance of sustainable management,” she added.

The California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in 2015, requires that counties manage their groundwater to avoid depleting their resources, as population growth puts increasing pressure on obtaining fresh water supplies. Counties that do not implement acceptable management plans will have a state plan imposed.

The state law requires counties to consider monitoring and regulating groundwater extractions as well as implementing fees.

A Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is a 20-year plan to ensure the sustainable use of groundwater within a groundwater basin. The three Sonoma County GSAs are required by the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) to develop GSPs by 2022, with a target implementation date of 2042. The goals of the GSPs are to establish local criteria for sustainably managing groundwater, and to determine how each basin will achieve sustainability.

“This is a very, very initial summary and there will be more information when all the results are tabulated and the consultants have provided their analysis,” Dubay said.

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