Santa Rosa Groundwater Management Planning - Background

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    Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management Plan, Released 2014

    An integrated strategy to locally manage groundwater resources is to develop and implement non-regulatory, voluntary groundwater management plans in compliance with the 1992 Assembly Bill 3030 (AB3030) and the 2002 Senate Bill 1938 (SB1938). Such a plan has been successfully developed and implemented in Sonoma Valley and development of such a plan for the Santa Rosa Plain is one of the immediate actions identified in the Water Agency’s Water Supply Strategy Number Five (Work with Stakeholders to Promote Sound, Information-Based Water Supply Planning Programs) of the Water Supply Strategies Action Plan. There can be multiple potential benefits to developing and implementing a groundwater management plan including increased water supply reliability, minimized adverse impacts to groundwater, enhanced local management of groundwater resources, and economic opportunities through available state grant funding programs.

    On September 16, 2014, the Governor signed a package of bills known as the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, that will change groundwater management in California.  The legislation, which takes effect on January 1, 2015, gives local agencies the means to manage groundwater basins in a manner that is sustainable over the long-term and provides authority for the State to step in should basins not be managed sustainably. Adopting the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management Plan prior to the new law taking effect significantly advances the region’s ability to comply with the new legislation by establishing a robust data collection and monitoring program, promoting, studying and implementing programs and projects aimed at sustaining the basin’s groundwater resources, and fostering stakeholder coordination activities.  Additionally, having the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management Plan in place makes the region eligible for current and future State funding programs for water and groundwater projects, and increases the likelihood for local decision makers to retain the ability to manage the water resources of the Santa Rosa Plain moving forward.


    Background Documents


    Stakeholder Assessment

    To investigate the feasibility of pursuing groundwater management for the Santa Rosa Plain, the Center for Collaborative Policy, California State University, Sacramento, (Center) conducted an impartial assessment of issues and concerns related to groundwater management and to learn if and how stakeholders might want to address these issues. The Center interviewed 55 individuals representing 37 organizations with an interest in groundwater between February and October 2009. This assessment demonstrated support for groundwater management planning if certain pre-planning would occur to lay the foundation for a phased groundwater management planning process.


    Steering Committee Outreach and Recommendations

    Based on these findings and direction received from its Board in January 2010, the Water Agency convened a Steering Committee in April 2010 to address groundwater stakeholder concerns, oversee a public education and outreach effort to build common understanding about groundwater and develop recommendations on whether groundwater management should proceed. The Steering Committee met six times in 2010, held three educational public workshops involving nearly 200 people and conducted briefings with 20 organizations. Based on the understanding gained through these outreach activities, in January 2011 the Steering Committee recommended that stakeholders collaboratively develop a non-regulatory, voluntary groundwater management plan for the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Basin under the Groundwater Management Act (AB 3030).


    Basin Advisory Panel Formation

    Following on these recommendations, a Basin Advisory Panel (Panel) was convened. The Panel began meeting in December 2011 and was the primary decision-making body in developing the Groundwater Management Plan. The Panel is comprised of a diverse group of almost 30 technical experts, residential well users, businesses, agricultural groups, environmental organizations, governmental agencies, tribal groups, and natural resource managers.