Groundwater

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Though groundwater currently provides only 5% of drinking water in Santa Cruz, it plays a critical role in Santa Cruz County drinking water supplies. Local groundwater basins are threatened from overpumping and seawater intrusion. Following is information about both state and local efforts to better manage and protect groundwater supplies.

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The SGMA provides a framework for sustainable management of groundwater supplies by local authorities. Recognizing that groundwater is most effectively managed at the local level, the SGMA empowers local agencies to achieve sustainability within 20 years. SGMA establishes minimum standards for sustainable groundwater management, improves coordination between land use and groundwater planning, provides state technical assistance, protects water rights, and creates a mechanism for state intervention if a local agency is not managing its groundwater sustainably.

Santa Cruz County Groundwater

Midcounty - In July 2015 the Soquel-Valley Groundwater Basin was identified by the Department of Water Resources as one of 21 water basins to be reclassified as critically overdrafted. This was done on the basis of seawater intrusion detected at the coastline, and the declaration of a Groundwater Emergency by Soquel Creek Water District in 2014.

The Soquel-Aptos Groundwater Management Committee (SAGMC) includes representatives from the county, from Central Water District, from Soquel Creek Water District, from the City of Santa Cruz, and private well owners. This group is a joint exercise of powers entity with interest in management of the Soquel-Aptos groundwater basin. Their efforts include collecting, maintaining and sharing data; undertaking cooperative research and resource management initiatives; jointly pursuing groundwater management grants and studies; and facilitating the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The SAGMC also provides public outreach and education on groundwater topics and issues.

Northcounty - The Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin has been managed under an AB3030 Groundwater Management Plan since 1994.  In 1995, a group of local agencies established the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin Advisory Committee and became signatories to a Memorandum of Understanding that outlined the objectives for the cooperative groundwater management of the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin. The SMGBAC meets twice a year in May and November.

As part of the Groundwater Management Plan implementation, annual reports are produced that analyze and describe the status of the Santa Margarita Basin.  In 2013, the reporting cycle was changed to biennial cycle due to incremental year-to-year changes observed in the basin.  The most recent report was produced in 2015, and reflected basinwide conditions during 2015.

The SAGMC is the best resource for information on local groundwater issues. To visit their website and learn about upcoming public events and meetings, please click here.