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Can Collaborative Groundwater Management Work?. The Sonoma County Experience Jay Jasperse Sonoma County Water Agency April 9, 2010. Overview. SCWA/USGS Groundwater Assessment Program Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Program Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management Activities

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Can Collaborative Groundwater Management Work?

The Sonoma County Experience

Jay Jasperse

Sonoma County Water Agency

April 9, 2010

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  • SCWA/USGS Groundwater Assessment Program

  • Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Program

  • Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management Activities

  • Lessons Learned

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Alexander Valley Study Area Completed 2006

Santa Rosa Valley Study Area Initiated 2005

Sonoma Valley Study Area Completed 2006

Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) Water Transmission System

Petaluma Valley Study Area

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Valley Groundwater Study

  • Key Findings 1975-2000:

    • Increased GW pumping from 6,000 to 8,500 AFY

    • Localized decline of GW levels (-)17,300 AF decrease in storage

    • Salinity Issues in southern part of valley

  • Numerical Model – Tool to evaluate data gaps & simulate future conditions

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Findings Stakeholder Assessment – Center Collaborative Policy

  • Water Supply - Important to educate residents about water

  • No More Regulations – “Deal Killer” for some

  • Groundwater - Not sustainable & quality is a concern

  • Recycled Water – Generally viewed favorably

  • Land Use - Link land use & water supply

  • Diversifying Supply - Strongly supported

  • Information Gathering – Sensitivity related to

    confidentiality of well monitoring information

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Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Program Policy

Convened Stakeholder Group in June 2006

Agricultural alliances, environmental organizations, water purveyors, and residential groundwater users

Groundwater Management Plan Adopted by Sonoma County Water Agency, City of Sonoma & Valley of the Moon Water District in Late 2007

Non-regulatory and collaborative process with emphasis on local control and management

Currently in Third Year of Implementation


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Sonoma Valley -Management Strategies Policy

The BAP Identified the Four Management Strategies:

  • Increased Conservation (Urban, Non-Urban, & Agriculture)

  • Recycled Water Use to Offset Groundwater Pumping

  • Stormwater Recharge of Groundwater Basin: Multi-Benefit (Stormwater/Water Supply/Open Space)

  • Conjunctive Use of Winter Russian River Water to Recharge Groundwater Basin

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Volunteer Groundwater-Level Monitoring Program Policy

  • Volunteer well monitoring program twice per year (water levels)

  • Water quality monitored in some wells by DWR

  • Coordinated/synchronized monitoring (136 wells)

  • Developed a Sampling & Analysis Plan and Water-Level Monitoring Guide

  • Developed Web-based data management system (WEBH2O)

  • Prioritizing areas where data gaps still exist

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Stakeholder Involvement & Outreach Activities Policy

BAP and TAC meetings

Maintain project website

Video produced

Panel members brief constituency groups

Press releases/newspaper articles

Water conservation awards

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Programs and Studies Policy

  • Planned multi-completion monitoring wells (grant)

  • Recharge area mapping (grant)

  • New Stream Gage - Sonoma Creek

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on groundwater recharge age-dating study

  • Urban & agricultural conservation (NBWA grant)

  • Groundwater banking study (Russian River water)

  • Planned stormwater recharge study (collaboration with Open Space District)

  • Well Owner’s guide

  • “Slow it, spread it, sink it” guidance manual

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Groundwater Management Program Funding Policy

  • Local Cooperative Funding Agreement

    • SCWA, City of Sonoma, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, VOMWD, SVCSD and County

  • DWR Memorandum of Understanding

    • Facilitation Services Technical Assistance – Central District Office

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Conducted by the Center for Collaborative Policy PolicyFinalized in January 2010

Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management Situation Assessment

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Center for Collaborative Policy PolicyStakeholder Assessment

Impartial Mediators Interviewed 55 Stakeholders Representing 37 Organizations


Business & Developers

Conservation & Environmental

Government (State, County & City)

Rural Residential Well Owners



Water Supply & Groundwater Technical People

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Findings – Stakeholder Assessment Policy

Lack of understanding

Groundwater basin and its capacity

Sustainable yield and cumulative effects of pumping

Groundwater management & planning

Technical information needed

Planning is critical, but some are skeptical

Interest group dynamics: low trust

Need to identify rural residential well owner representation

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Center for Collaborative Policy Policy Recommendations

Step 1: Convene Santa Rosa Plain Steering Committee

Step 2: Initiate a robust public education on USGS technical study and groundwater planning options

Step 3: Re-assess interest in groundwater planning and identify key representatives

Step 4: Contingent on Step 3, develop a phased-approach to groundwater planning

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What Have We Learned? Policy

  • Start from a solid scientific basis

  • Invest time and effort in education: science and process

  • Develop a charter – Roles, responsibilities & dispute resolution

  • Manage Expectations – Perfection will not be achieved

  • Consequence of “No Action”

  • “Low hanging fruit”

  • Alignment with State & regional programs/policies

  • Community ownership is key!

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Sonoma Valley Water Use - Year 2000 Policy

Total Water Use

Groundwater Use

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Historical & Projected Groundwater PolicyUse - Sonoma Valley