Groundwater is an important resource in the Sonoma Valley that has many beneficial uses and users including: agricultural users, domestic/rural residential well owners, municipal wells, public water systems, local land use planning agencies, environmental uses, etc.Locally about half the water demands of the Sonoma Valley are met through groundwater. Recognizing the importance of groundwater the Sonoma County Water Agency, City of Sonoma and VOMWD started funding an effort in 2006 that resulted in the adoption of a voluntary Groundwater Management Plan in 2007. These non-regulatory efforts have continued for the past 8 years and will be the foundation for the regulations that were passed in the Fall of 2014.
The new laws, referred to as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, now require all groundwater basins designated as high or medium priority basins (Sonoma Valley is medium priority) to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans.
Additionally, the State law requires the development of one or more Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) within the groundwater basin by June 30, 2017. In the Sonoma Valley eligible local public agencies that may form a single or multiple GSAs are: Valley of the Moon Water District, City of Sonoma, Sonoma County Water Agency and/or County of Sonoma. If no local agency wants to manage groundwater the County of Sonoma becomes the GSA by default unless the County opts out then the State Water Resource Control Board is the backstop.
Other important benchmarks are:
- January 31, 2022 Completion of Groundwater Sustainability Plan
- January 31, 2042 Groundwater basins must achieve sustainability