Now that the Groundwater Sustainability Plan has been approved, the real work begins so to speak.
The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board approved the GSP at its meeting on Friday, laying out the goals for the agency to meet the state requirement to reduce groundwater usage to what’s considered a sustainable level by 2040.
The plan was due to be submitted to the state by January 31. The ETGSA covers virtually all of Southeastern Tulare County.
Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.
The board also took action in dealing with the issue of the Friant-Kern’s subsidence on Friday and the GSP deals with that issue as well.
The GSP’s goal is to basically make sure enough water can be stored for groundwater usage to be sustainable. “In achieving the Sustainability Goal, these GSPs are intended to balance average annual inflows and outflows of water by 2040 so that negative change in storage does not occur after 2040, with the goal being avoidance of undesirable results caused by groundwater conditions,” the plan states.
Based on an analysis presented in October, Southeastern Tulare County would have to reduce its groundwater use by 10 percent a year over the next 10 years, beginning this year and 30 percent a year from 2031 to 2040 to have what would be considered groundwater sustainability by 2040.
But while the 10 percent figure is a guide, what growers can specifically pump out of the ground will obviously have an effect on the amount of crops they can grow.
It has been reported based on current plans to reach sustainability by 20 one area of the canal would subside by 3.4 feet. Even if the 2040 sustainability standard was met right now that same area of the Friant-Kern Canal would still subside by less than a foot.
With that in mind the board approved a study that would cost about $45,000 that would look at the causes of the Friant-Kern’s subsidence and possible solutions. Also as part of the study a land management area which has yet to be identified will be chosen looking at the Friant-Kern’s subsidence impact on that area.
In addition Johnny Amaral of the Friant Water Authority which manages the canal spoke before the board and said the authority is looking at mitigation and mitigation fees as far as fees and groundwater usage is restricted based on usage of the canal. That’s a concern that’s also been expressed by growers.
The GSP also gives the ETSGA board the authority to implement fees and incentives when it comes to groundwater usage. But one area the GSP doesn’t address is water rights as it the plan waives the ETSGA of any responsibility when it comes to anything dealing with water rights such as water rights disputes.
The board also approved a three-year contract based on the agency’s finance committee’s review with Land IQ to measure the water usage of crops. The cost would be 72 cents per gross acre.