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Arroyo Grande Groundwater Forum Draws Big Crowd

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, was signed into law by Governor Brown last year amid California’s ongoing, historic drought.

It requires all areas of the state not governed by existing, court-ordered groundwater management plans to form their own Groundwater Sustainability Agency, or GSA, to manage future water use by June 30, 2017 or have the state do it for them.

Dozens of property owners and stakeholders in a future GSA for areas along the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin showed up at the South County Regional Center in Arroyo Grande Wednesday night to hear what it will mean for them and their private water wells.

“What we have are what we call fringe areas that are un-adjudicated and so that’s currently what we are looking at”, said GSA program coordinator Mindy Meyer.

In this case, the “fringe areas” are on the northern and eastern edges of the adjudicated Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin, believed to among the healthiest groundwater basins in the state despite the drought.

Most of the un-adjudicated areas are private wells for residential and agricultural uses.

“That plan (GSA) is going to govern whether or not your basin is sustainable and if that basin then needs to look at cutting back on how much groundwater is being pumped from the ground”, Meyer told the crowd.

Some of those in attendance liked what they heard, believing its better to have local control over future water use where they live.

“I think its going to be something that’s going to have to be there”, said private well owner Bob Banducci after the meeting, “if nobody represents us we’re kind of going to be stuck on the State of California doing it by themselves.”

How the GSA is formed, who gets to serve on it to make future water use decisions and how its funded will be ironed out in the months to come ahead of the state deadline.

“The biggest deal for me that they miss is they don’t talk enough about conservation”, said private well owner Todd Baskin, “they want to implement programs to control how much water we use, but people just don’t conserve well enough and that’s really where it all starts.”

More GSA public forums and stakeholder meetings are planned in the weeks and months ahead in order to meet the June 30, 2017 state deadline.

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