bathroom scale with a measuring tape, hand weights and a red apple on a white backgroundIf you’ve ever talked to your doctor about losing a few pounds, you know that he or she will advise to cut the calories and increase your exercise. Creating a sustainable groundwater basin relies on a similar approach: Both reducing the amount of groundwater used and increasing the amount of water that recharges the aquifer.

Section 6 in the three Sonoma County Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) provides a variety of alternatives for both reducing use and enhancing recharge. Some of these options are projects, for example reducing demand by expanding a recycled water system so farmers, municipalities and other users can switch from groundwater to recycled water when irrigating crops, parks, schools and golf courses.  Projects can take years to implement and often require significant funding to design, permit and construct.

“Management actions” or policies can also increase basin sustainability and often have shorter lead times and are less expensive to implement than projects. The GSPs provided several policy options for further development and consideration, including:

  • Working with permitting agencies to require zero-net groundwater use for future development, low-impact development, or water-efficient landscape plans;
  • Coordinating with the county on well-permitting requirements to provide discretionary review of all permits in areas of special concern, as identified in the GSPs and to require monitoring of wells drilled in the deep aquifer;
  • Development of a well metering program;
  • Development of a drinking water well mitigation program;
  • Study of water markets; and
  • Permitting and accounting of water hauling.

The GSA Advisory Committees and Boards will be discussing policy alternatives at upcoming meetings, to help prioritize options for additional study and possible future action. Just like no single diet program works for everyone, there is no magic option or combination of options that will work for each basin. If you have some ideas and would like to ‘weigh-in’ with your thoughts, join us at upcoming meetings.