On Monday, Oct. 30, representatives from the California Department of Water Resources formally presented Sonoma County’s three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies grant funds totaling over $15 million to support Sonoma County groundwater supplies through the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program.
People from across the county attended the ceremony, which was organized as part of California’s Go Golden Initiative, which highlights the partnership between the state of California and local organizations and water agencies to fund bold and innovative projects that strengthen California’s water infrastructure and community resilience.
The funds will support the activities outlined in the basins’ groundwater sustainability plans for the Petaluma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency, the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency and the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency. These plans were developed over several years and approved by the Department of Water Resources in January.
“The three new grants will help support local sustainable groundwater management, including projects to help rural residents use water more efficiently and to help the GSAs better understand how groundwater pumping impacts local creeks and streams,” said Susan Gorin who serves as the chair of the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board of Directors and is a Sonoma County supervisor.
Between 2018 and 2020, each basin received $2 million from the California Department of Water Resources through bond measures approved by the state voters – Proposition 1 and Proposition 68. These were the maximum awards possible and were used to successfully develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans for each basin. In this third round of funding, the Petaluma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency has been awarded $6.7 million, the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency $5.3 million and the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency has been awarded $3.1 million – for a total of $15.1 million.
“These implementation grants are critical in covering the gap, and ensuring that we can successfully manage this critical water resource,” said Chair David Rabbitt of the Petaluma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board of Directors and who also serves as a Sonoma County supervisor. “We want to thank the California Department of Water Resources, which has been committed to supporting the work of over 260 GSAs in over 140 basins with grant funding opportunities.”
Groundwater is an essential part of the water supply for every residential, agricultural, and commercial user in Sonoma County. The funded projects will include an assessment of available groundwater under current conditions and a detailed 20-year plan to ensure that groundwater is available to meet the region’s needs over the next 50 years through aquifer system assessments, water use efficiency programs, stakeholder engagement programs and more.
“The grants will allow us to continue educating and working directly with groundwater users to expand our voluntary monitoring programs in key areas of the aquifers,” said Chair Susan Harvey of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency and who serves as the mayor of the City of Cotati. “In helping us better understand what’s happening in the aquifers beneath our feet and how groundwater pumping impacts people and the environment, the grants will allow us to construct new monitoring wells in all three basins.”