a man stands outside near a shed holding a blue device and measures his wellSonoma County’s groundwater basins are characterized by diverse geological conditions underground, so to truly understand how much water is in our aquifer requires water level measurements at many strategic locations throughout the region. While there are several public monitoring wells that record water level data in Sonoma County, there still exist many data gaps. With recent grant funding from the California Department of Water Resources, a few more monitoring wells will be constructed in Sonoma County over the next two years, but that still does not complete the full picture. Building on the existing voluntary monitoring network, the GSAs are now seeking to expand the volunteer monitoring network for private wells to get a more complete understanding of aquifer levels.

To get started, GSA staff formed a groundwater monitoring subcommittee comprised of representatives from the Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain, and Sonoma Valley GSA Advisory Committees, along with staff from Permit Sonoma, Sonoma and Gold Ridge Resource Conservation Districts, Sebastopol Water Information Group, and the Sonoma Ecology Center. The subcommittee has already met several times to review and discuss the goals of the program to address data gaps, monitoring approaches, data reporting and management, data sharing and display on a website dashboard, monitoring protocols, and coordination. The subcommittee plans to initiate an outreach campaign in February and develop protocols and procedures to implement and begin data collection in April.

The program will be designed to support well owners on both residential and agricultural parcels to measure their groundwater levels in their well two times a year, in spring and fall. Participants will get to know how water depth changes over the course of the year and better understand how the groundwater reservoir beneath their property responds to winter recharge and use over the dry months. Outreach partners include the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Resource Conservation Districts, and community-organizations. The GSAs have identified key areas that have experienced several years of decline for more targeted outreach and technical support, but any well owner in the basin is welcome to participate in the program with the DIY tools and instructions available.

If you are interested in learning more or participating in the program, sign up for our mailing list and watch for more information on our website and social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram).