Read below for answers to several common questions about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). For more information about a specific topic, read one of the FAQ pages below or check out the fact sheets in our resources library.
What is “sustainable” groundwater management?
What areas of Sonoma County are affected?
Who will manage groundwater in Sonoma County?
The first requirement of SGMA was to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) by June 2017. The three GSAs formed in Sonoma County are regulatory bodies that can manage groundwater using a variety of tools, including setting fees, requiring water use reporting, regulating how much groundwater is pumped, and monitoring wells. This is the website for the Santa Rosa Plain GSA; click here for more information on the GSA for the Sonoma Valley GSA or the Petaluma Valley GSA.
Isn’t groundwater already managed in the Santa Rosa Plain?
The Santa Rosa Plain groundwater basin has a voluntary groundwater management plan that a diverse stakeholder group known as a Basin Advisory Panel developed and implemented collaboratively. This voluntary, non-regulatory plan is an excellent first step, and will significantly advance the region’s ability to comply with SGMA by establishing a robust data collection and monitoring program, and by promoting, studying and implementing programs and projects aimed at sustaining the basins’ groundwater resources and fostering stakeholder coordination. This plan, however, do not meet the more stringent requirements of the new law.
For example, the current plan includes actions that could result in a sustainable groundwater basin, if implemented through the voluntary cooperation of well owners and agencies. In contrast, the new law requires each Groundwater Sustainability Plan to include actions that will be taken to meet the sustainability goal in each basin. SGMA also provides the GSA with powers and authorities to ensure that these basins will reach groundwater sustainability within 20 years.
When will the groundwater sustainability plan be in place?
What will happen if state intervention becomes necessary?
SGMA states that if local GSAs fail to follow the established timeline, then the State Water Resources Control Board will step in and intervene in local groundwater management. More information on this process may be found here.
Will stakeholders and the general public be involved in implementing SGMA?
Does SGMA affect my water rights?
Who will pay for the implementation of SGMA and any programs/projects?
During the GSA- formation process, GSA-eligible entities applied for and received grants funded by Proposition 1 to cover costs of GSA formation. In addition, the Santa Rosa Plain GSA received a $1 million Proposition 1 grant for GSP development. For the first two years of GSA operation, costs not covered by grant funds are being covered by member agencies, in amounts specified in the JPA forming the GSA. The GSA will continue to aggressively pursue Proposition 1 and other grant opportunities to offset local costs. The law also allows for the GSA to collect fees to help pay for the costs of preparing and implementing the GSP. Read more on the Finances page.
How will the new law affect me?
The GSA will decide which of these new authorities, if any, are needed to sustainably manage groundwater in each affected basin. Given that the groundwater sustainability process is only beginning, including numerous opportunities for public and well owner input, identifying specific impacts of the new law on well owners is speculative. Once the GSP is adopted, the impacts could vary depending on where your well is located to the amount of water you pump annually; the GSA will decide what is necessary to sustainably manage groundwater in the basin.