Sonoma County groundwater management effort receives $250,000 state grant
A $250,000 grant was awarded to Sonoma County groundwater management efforts by the California Department of Water Resources. The grant is funded by statewide Proposition 1 (The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014), and is to assist communities in planning for implementation of California’s sweeping new law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
The funds will be matched by local agencies and used to develop a data management system for all three groundwater basins immediately affected by the new act: Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain, and Sonoma Valley. Because SGMA requires groundwater basins to achieve sustainability based on quantitative measurements of groundwater levels and other factors, efficiently compiling, managing and evaluating data from many sources will be key to successfully implementing the new law.
“We know that good information will be key to achieving healthy groundwater basins. This grant provides one of the tools that we need to reach sustainability,” said Sonoma County Supervisor and Sonoma County Water Agency Director Efren Carrillo.
The grant will also be used to develop a public portal for viewing groundwater data, in keeping with SGMA’s focus on transparency and stakeholder involvement. There are thousands of wells in the three basins, and the portal will eventually provide important information to well owners on groundwater levels, including seasonal and longer-term fluctuations.
Under SGMA, local agencies must form a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) by June 30, 2017. Groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) must be created by 2022, and groundwater sustainability must be achieved by 2042. Because no state dollars have been specifically designated to help local agencies achieve these milestones, the County of Sonoma, Sonoma County Water Agency, the cities of Cotati, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Sonoma, the Town of Windsor and the Valley of the Moon and North Bay water districts are supporting initial implementation. The Proposition 1 grant funding and a facilitation support services grant awarded to Sonoma County will help offset start-up costs.
“Our water district has long been involved in Sonoma Valley groundwater efforts and the need for a better data management tool has become increasingly obvious. Thanks to this grant, we will have an important new tool in our tool belt,” said Valley of the Moon Water District Board President Jon Foreman.
While the Sonoma County Water Agency is the grant administrator, all the local entities listed above supported and participated in the development of the grant application. These entities are also working together in developing options for GSAs. For additional information and to sign up to receive monthly updates, go to www.sonomacountygroundwater.org.