In 2014, California became one of the last states to formally regulate groundwater at the state level when the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law. Over the last 8 years, boundaries have been drawn, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) formed, and Plans submitted to Department of Water Resources.
The hard work bringing groundwater recharge and use into a sustainable balance within 20 years is now beginning. For the parts of Stanislaus and Merced Counties between the Tuolumne and Merced Rivers, two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies have been formed to take on this task: the East Turlock Subbasin GSA (ETSGSA) and the West Turlock Subbasin GSA. ETSGSA represents Eastside Water District, Balico Cortez Water District, a small portion of Merced Irrigation District and portions of Merced and Stanislaus Counties.
The two GSAs jointly submitted their GSP in January 2022, with a goal of implementing activities that will bring our subbasin to a sustainable groundwater pumping level within 20 years.
Our available tools are increasing recharge and decreasing pumping, and it is critical we do both in a timely fashion if we want to maintain local control of our resources. Before we can begin the process of managing pumping, we need to determine how much is being pumped, by what crops and where. To start this conversation, we will be reviewing crop water use data (“evapotransipiration”) that has been compiled from satellite imagery over the last 20 years.
This data will help us determine a baseline from which to begin building our pumping allocation and fee structure to help assist growers make a smart transition from overuse of groundwater. The ETSGSA would like to invite all residents to a Groundwater Accounting Options and Extraction Fees Workshop on Tuesday, October 18th at 9:30am. This workshop will be held at Cortez Hall, 12937 N. Cortez Ave., Turlock. Your participation in this meeting is vitally important. You know more about your farming operations than anyone, and we want to make sure we are utilizing accurate information, making smart decisions, and listening to your concerns and advice. We encourage you to attend this workshop and welcome your input in this process.
Tim Johnson, President, Eastside Water District
Dirk Ulrich, President, Balico Cortez Water District