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Groundwater Act focus of workshop
groundwater well
Management of groundwater resources is crucial for long-term sustainability for the Turlock Subbasin and the whole state. - photo by Photo Contributed

In an effort to inform the public on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and encourage all stakeholders to assume an active role in its local implementation, the Turlock Groundwater Basin Association will host its first public workshop later this month.

“Our expectation is we get information out about the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Act and let people know about what deadlines we have to meet,” said City of Turlock Regulatory Affairs Manager Garner Reynolds.

“We feel it is important to educate the public on the new requirements and having sustainable groundwater is important to every stakeholder and every resident in the county,” continued Reynolds.

The goal of the workshop is to inform Turlock Subbasin stakeholders about the requirements of SGMA and ways that the public can stay informed and engaged in future subbasin management processes. The event will cover a number of topics, including SGMA’s requirements, TGBA and the geology of the Turlock Subbasin. There will also be an opportunity for open discussion and a question and answer session at the end of the workshop.

Representatives from surrounding agencies will be present, including Walt Ward from Stanislaus County, TGBA Vice Chairperson Debbie Liebersbach from TID, Herb Smart from TID, Larry Ernst from Wood Rodgers, Inc., Phyllis Stanin from Todd Groundwater and TGBA Chairperson Michael Cooke from City of Turlock.

“While we have reached a historic agreement with Turlock Irrigation District to provide surface water to Turlock, managing our groundwater resources is crucial to Turlock’s Long Term Water Management Plan,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth. “It is vital that we take a regional approach in how our groundwater resources are managed.”

SGMA, which took effect earlier this year, requires the formation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies covering the Turlock Subbasin before June 30, 2017 to avoid probationary state intervention. The GSAs are to be formed by local public agencies that have water supply, water management, or land-use responsibilities within a groundwater basin.

SGMA also requires the GSAs—once established—to develop and adopt a Groundwater Sustainability Plan or multiple coordinated GSPs covering the entire Subbasin prior to Jan. 31, 2022. If the GSA fails to meet this deadline, the Subbasin will be subject to state intervention measures.

 Furthermore, the Subbasin can also be subject to state intervention after plan adoption if plans are deemed inadequate or are not being implemented in a manner likely to achieve the groundwater sustainability goals outlined in the GSP.

The California Department of Water Resources, in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board, is charged with implementing SGMA and is required by law to develop a series of regulations and documents to aid local agencies in complying with SGMA.

DWR is responsible for developing GSP regulations before June 1, 2016 that will be used to evaluate GSP submittals and GSP implementation. For GSAs, SGMA compliance will consist of adhering to SGMA statutes and complying with regulations developed and implemented by DWR.

The TGBA took action in September to execute a Memorandum of Understanding that details the need to work together in order to meet the new SGMA requirements.

“The TGBA’s existing MOU, which was adopted by the TID Board of Directors in 2001 and other agencies around that time doesn’t address SGMA,” said TID water resources analyst Herb Smart.

 The Post-SGMA MOU does not alter any provisions of the existing TGBA MOU; rather it was developed to build upon the language of the existing MOU with a better reflection on actions that will need to be undertaken by local agencies in the subbasin in response to the requirements of SGMA.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Workshop is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the City of Ceres Community Center. Those interested in attending must RSVP by Friday to