CSAC Bulletin Article

Counties Participate in Legislative Hearing on Groundwater Management

On February 15, 2022, the Assembly Local Government and Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committees held a joint hearing titled: “What’s Up Down Below? An Update on Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).” The hearing covered a variety of SGMA-related topics and included a panel titled “SGMA on-the-ground: Local agency perspective on governance and implementation,” which highlighted county experiences.

Counties were well represented by Santa Cruz County’s Water Resources Manager Sierra Ryan and Napa County’s Director of Planning and Environmental Services David Morrison who each testified to the needs of counties when it comes to SGMA implementation. Throughout the hearing multiple speakers emphasized the effort counties have taken to comply with SGMA, the need for continuing state support for program expenses, and the challenges of continued planning and permitting of wells as a component of Groundwater Sustainability Plans. There was also a consistent message that the state must explore non-grant funding methods as, especially for smaller communities, grants are expensive and challenging to apply for.

Catherine Freeman, CSAC Legislative Representative, testified about the hard work counties are undertaking to implement groundwater management actions, particularly during this intense multi-year drought. In addition, she re-emphasized the continuing need for state funding to support groundwater monitoring and management.  

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