Read below for answers to several common questions about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). For more information about a specific topic, read one of the FAQ pages below or check out the fact sheets in our resources library.
What is “sustainable” groundwater management?
What areas of Sonoma County are affected?
Who will manage groundwater in Sonoma County?
The first requirement of SGMA was to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) by June 2017. The three GSAs formed in Sonoma County are regulatory bodies that can manage groundwater using a variety of tools, including setting fees, requiring water use reporting, regulating how much groundwater is pumped, and monitoring wells. This is the website for the Petaluma Valley GSA; click here for more information on the GSA for the Santa Rosa Plain GSA or the Sonoma Valley GSA.
When will the groundwater sustainability plan be in place?
What will happen if state intervention becomes necessary?
SGMA states that if local GSAs fail to follow the established timeline, then the State Water Resources Control Board will step in and intervene in local groundwater management. More information on this process may be found here.
Will stakeholders and the general public be involved in implementing SGMA?
SGMA requires the GSA to involve groundwater users and the general public in the development of the GSP. Diverse stakeholders and the public at large will continue to be involved in implementing SGMA in Sonoma County, just as local agencies, agriculture, the environmental community, and private well owners had critical roles in the Basin Advisory Panels in Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain basins, though this process did not happen in the Petaluma Valley basin. Collaboration and stakeholder involvement will be key to the successful implementation of SGMA. Opportunities for stakeholder involvement include open public meetings of the GSA boards and advisory committees, advisory committee membership, and periodic community meetings.
Does SGMA affect my water rights?
Who will pay for the implementation of SGMA and any programs/projects?
During the GSA- formation process, GSA-eligible entities applied for and received grants funded by Proposition 1 to cover costs of GSA formation. In addition, the Petaluma Valley GSA received a $1 million Proposition 1 grant for GSP development. For the first two years of GSA operation, costs not covered by grant funds are being covered by member agencies, in amounts specified in the JPA forming the GSA. The GSA will continue to aggressively pursue Proposition 1 and other grant opportunities to offset local costs. The law also allows for the GSA to collect fees to help pay for the costs of preparing and implementing the GSP. Read more on the Finances page.
How will the new law affect me?
The GSA will decide which of these new authorities, if any, are needed to sustainably manage groundwater in each affected basin. Given that the groundwater sustainability process is only beginning, including numerous opportunities for public and well owner input, identifying specific impacts of the new law on well owners is speculative. Once the GSP is adopted, the impacts could vary depending on where your well is located to the amount of water you pump annually; the GSA will decide what is necessary to sustainably manage groundwater in the basin.