Wednesday, January 16, 2019     Volume: 19, Issue: 45

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 9th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 10 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 10

Supes ask DWR to adjust groundwater basin boundary


The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on May 8 to submit a request to California's Department of Water Resources (DWR) asking the agency to remove northern fringe areas from Santa Maria River Valley Groundwater Basin. Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam recused himself from discussions because his family drew water from wells in the land in question.

The main areas requested for removal are on the northern and eastern edges of the county's boundary. One such example is the Santa Maria River and the San Luis Obispo County border. That county is also considering adjusting its fringe basin as well. The basin had previously been identified by DWR as part of requirements for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Matt Young, Santa Barbara County's water resources program manager, said the majority of the land does not possess water-bearing formations, lacks significant groundwater pumping, and has a limited opportunity for future development. The fringe basin also acts as a barrier to groundwater flow. According to Young, the areas contribute little to the greater Santa Maria Basin.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SGMA into law in 2014. It provides the framework for the sustainable management of groundwater supplies by local agencies and provides tools, authority, and a timeline for local agencies during the 20-year implementation period.

SGMA requires sustainable management of the county's basins that are designated as medium- or high-priority by DWR. In Santa Barbara County these basins include the Cuyama, San Antonio Creek, Santa Ynez River, and Santa Maria River Valley basins, along with the Goleta Groundwater Basin.

Previously adjudicated basins are not subject to SGMA, with the exception of specific reporting requirements. In the high priority Santa Maria Basin, the boundary of the adjudication does not completely match with the basin boundary as defined in DWR's Bulletin 118, leaving "fringe" areas which are unmanaged, according to county staff. SGMA requires that all portions of a basin be managed, and a groundwater sustainability agency was thus required for the fringe areas.

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