Groundwater Sustainability Will Be Focus of New Rules
By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
Groundwater agencies up and down the state are formulating initial plans for growers in their areas to reduce overdraft pumping of groundwater as they prepare for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act regulations that will kick in around 2040. Ron Samuelian is a civil engineer with Provost and Pritchard consulting group, with offices around the state. He spoke with California Ag Today about their role as an engineering firm regarding helping growers with SGMA.
At the moment, a lot of the work is related to a plan. Using hydrogeology, they are figuring out the water budget, its impact, the amount of overdraft occurred, and how to monitor this in the future.
“But maybe most importantly, how are we going to fix it and what are we going to do about it? I think that is where we really come in. We understand not only ag but, urban and all of the other uses,” Samuelian said.
The goal of SGMA is to be in balance in 2040.
“In terms of sustainability over time, we have seen a decline in our water table. At a given well, the water level might bounce up and down, but the general trend has been to decline a 1 to 5 feet a year, depending on location,” Samuelian explained.
“We’re coming down to the wire pretty quickly,” commented Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau in Salinas. “We’re moving forward with our SGMA implementation and moving closer to a proposal for our groundwater sustainability agency. We hope to have something presentable to the public entities sometime this fall.”
“We are meeting with stakeholders in the Valley and hopefully we can move forward with some of the solidification of the proposals and get into the nitty-gritty details of how to work that particular agency through the process,” Groot continued. “We have options to either take an agency that we have here in our county and rework it legislatively, or perhaps create a brand new agency. It just depends on the complexities of that particular issue based on the proposal that we come up with,” said Groot.
Groot noted local agricultural leaders have proposals on the table and various different options are under consideration. “The complexity of reworking an existing agency through a legislative process is rather daunting,” explained Groot. “The complexity of creating a new agency from the scratch is also very daunting and probably very expensive.”
Certainly any of these proposals under scrutiny will not be approved overnight. “It’s going to take some thought; some time, effort, and energy; and definitely some money to do,” said Groot.