Private Well Owners (PWOs) are individuals or businesses that have a groundwater well that they operate indepently of any water agency, and that supplies water for drinking water, livestock, and/or irrigation. Any well serving up to four connections is considered a private well. The Mid-County Groundwater Agency (MGA) is hopeful that PWOs that have wells in the Mid-County Groundwater Basin will engage with the process of developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the basin. To help ensure that the concerns and interests of PWOs are heard, three PWO representatives from within the basin are serving on the MGA Board. Remember, sustainable groundwater levels benefit all users in the basin.
We encourage every PWO in the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin to take the following actions:
1) Sign up to the MGA email listserve. We use the listserve to provide monthly updates on the process and upcoming events;
2) Attend MGA meetings and community drop-in hours to learn more and share your ideas;
3) Fill out the PWO survey, and ask your neighbors to fill it out too! The survey takes 10-15 minutes, is completely private and will help us understand your concerns. The survey can be reached by clicking here.
4) Read the PWO FAQs below;
5) Still have questions? Contact one of the MGA and PWO representatives:
- Sierra Ryan, Water Resource Planner for the County of Santa Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org, (831) 454-3133.
- Darcy Pruitt, Senior Planner for the Mid-County Groundwater Agency at email@example.com, (831) 662-2052.
Frequently Asked Questions specific to PWOs:
Q) Will the MGA require metering of private wells?
A) The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act gives the Mid-County Groundwater Agency the authority to meter larger, non-de minimis wells. A de minimis well is defined as a well using less than 2 acre-feet per year for domestic uses. The average household uses approximately half an acre-foot per year. So, most private residential wells in the Mid-County basin are de minimis and therefore not subject to metering.
Private wells used for commerce or agriculture uses are more likely to be subject to metering in order for the agency to be able to have the information needed to effectively manage the basin and bring it into sustainability by 2040 as required by state law. For more information, read the section on metering from SGMA (on page 23 of the Act).
Q) Will the MGA assess a user fee on private wells?
A) Under the act, it is *possible* to levy a fee assessment on de minimis and larger volume users alike. We do not know if a fee will be necessary for the Mid-County Basin, however, we do know that fees are charged by the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, which is the GSA for the neighboring Pajaro Basin to cover the costs of water management activities. There will be many opportunities for community input on the entire MGA planning process, including management fees. Any fees would have to be justified and would ultimately be subject to approval under Proposition 218.
Q) What happens if we cannot reach agreement on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan or resulting management fees?
A) If we cannot come to a local agreement on how to bring our basin into sustainability, the State will intervene. They have been very clear about what they will do – they will levy large use fees on all users and where possible, limit water well pumping across the board. The Act gives the state the authority to manage the basin if we cannot do it ourselves. Local participation within the MGA is the preferred alternative to state level basin command and control regulation.