Thursday, April 14, 2016

Salinas Valley groundwater sustainability effort in early stages

If the discussion at this week's latest Salinas Valley groundwater basin collaborative work group meeting was any indication, it looks like interest groups with a stake in the future of water in the agriculture-rich and populous river-fed basin are leaning toward creating a new government agency to oversee state-mandated local efforts to bring the overdrafted basin into balance.
During an informal query of the 22-member work group on Wednesday, the clear preference among those who spoke was in favor of forming a new groundwater sustainability agency, though there was also an indication that some existing agencies - Marina Coast Water District for one - could look to assume control of their slice of the basin.
Some also pointed out that the basin includes a number of diverse interests and sub-basins, and could require a number of different groundwater sustainability plans.
Two years ago, state legislation passed requiring formal management and oversight of groundwater for the first time in state history. Known as the Sustainability Groundwater Management Act, the legislation required the establishment of groundwater sustainability agencies by 2017 with broad oversight power of groundwater basins, and the creation of groundwater sustainability plans by 2020 designed to balance basin usage and recharge by 2040.
The local work group has been meeting since early March, conducting three sessions thus far, and is planning a Salinas Valley groundwater basin stakeholder forum on May 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers at the County Government Center in Salinas.
Work group members and the group's facilitator, Gina Bartlett of the Consensus Building Institute, stressed the need to reach out to and inform the public about the work under way and how it affects the community.

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