View this email in your browser

April 2016 Update on Groundwater Sustainability Agency Formation in Sonoma County

You are receiving this email because you either attended a recent Groundwater Workshop or signed up to receive periodic updates on the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Staff are continuing to discuss governance proposals to create one groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) and one groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) in each basin (with coordination between the basins, to be as efficient as possible), including an active role for advisory bodies and exploring ideas for representation and voting on GSA governing boards.
$250,000 Grant Received
A $250,000 grant was awarded to local groundwater management efforts by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). 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 SGMA.
In Sonoma County, 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.


Throughout California, several entities, including Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) and some agricultural commissions, have raised questions regarding their eligibility to serve as GSAs. The State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) has established an email system to seek clarification on GSA-eligibility.
In Sonoma County, the Sonoma RCD asked for clarification, and learned from the state (on April 13) that it is eligible. The Sonoma RCD will begin working with the other GSA-eligible agencies on governance issues. Gold Ridge RCD is determining whether to participate in the GSA process. The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission has indicated that it will be asking the State Board for clarification.

Comments on GSP Draft Regulations

The heart of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is development and implementation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). These plans are required in all high- and medium-priority basins. The GSPs must identify problems and provide a plan to achieve quantifiable sustainability within 20 years. The GSPs for Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley basins must be complete by 2022, and the basins much reach sustainability by 2042.
The draft regulations for development of GSPs were released by DWR in February and final regulations will be released by June 1.
GSA-eligible agency staff reviewed and provided extensive comments on the draft regulations for Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) that DWR issued.
An overall comment made by local agencies was concern with the prescriptive nature of the regulations. It is ultimately the responsibility of local communities to reach groundwater sustainability, so the GSAs should have the flexibility to develop programs that will work locally so long as the overall goal of sustainability is met.
All comments, including those made by Sonoma County, Sonoma County Water Agency and the City of Santa Rosa can be found at

GSA Governance

In April, staff will focus on developing guidelines for GSA advisory bodies (community-based committees that will provide advice and guidance to GSA governing boards). Staff will also continue discussing the governing board, voting options and the legal structure (memorandum of understanding or joint powers authority or some other cooperative agreement) for each GSA. The goal is to vet some proposals this summer with the governing boards, councils, the basin advisory panels, and the public.

Outreach Activities this Summer

This winter/spring, staff met with representatives from mutual and private water districts; agricultural groups; and the Sonoma County Water Coalition and the Sonoma Ecology Center to discuss their interest in GSA governance.
Should staff schedule board and council briefings on GSA activities, we will announce those meetings through this email list, as stakeholders requested during last fall’s public workshops. Staff anticipate meeting with existing basin advisory panels in the Santa Rosa Plain (May 17, City of Santa Rosa Utilities Field Office, 35 Stony Point Rd. The SGMA discussion will begin at approximately 11 a.m.) and Sonoma Valley (April 28, Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa Street, Sonoma. The SGMA discussion will begin at approximately 3:30).

Staff anticipate holding public workshops in the summer in the basins to gather community input on the governance and legal structure options.
Thank you for your continued interest in groundwater planning in Sonoma County. For more information or questions, please contact Ann DuBay at the Sonoma County Water Agency,, or 707-524-8378.
Copyright © 2016 Sonoma County Sustainable Groundwater Management, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp