You are here

Santa Cruz County water agencies to change inconsistent basin boundaries

By Samantha Clark, Santa Cruz Sentinel

POSTED: 03/29/16, 5:13 PM PDT 

SANTA CRUZ >> Under a historical law passed in 2014, water agencies in California must replenish troubled basins by 2040.

But the state and local water managers have different maps that say which basin belongs to which agency. Years ago, the Department of Water Resources separately defined the boundaries for basins that now require management under the new law.

The deadline to correct any inconsistencies is March 31, so Santa Cruz County water agencies are asking the state to modify its boundary designations to match the local designations.

“It just makes it clearer to the state who is managing what. What the state wants is for there to be no unmanaged area and no overlap,” said Mary Bannister, general manager of Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency. “Our jurisdictional boundary will stay the same.”

That means business as normal. The basin boundary proposal wouldn’t change any fees for customers or management practices for water systems within what the local agencies have always defined as their jurisdictions. Some customers were confused by notices of the proposed modifications.

“We’re adjusting all the basin boundaries according to the state because they don’t reflect our understanding of how the basins really work,” said John Ricker, Santa Cruz County Water Resources Division Director. “It’s just basically bringing the basins that the state recognizes in conformance with how we’re managing them locally.”

Multiple basins would be affected by the boundary modifications, including the Pajaro Valley Basin, theSanta Cruz Mid-County Basin and the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin in the Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley area.

The Scotts Valley Water District and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency in collaboration with the county have submitted their requests to the state. Public comment on the proposal must be submitted by April 23 at for Mid-County for Scotts Valley.

PV Water’s board will vote to do the same Wednesday. After the Department of Water Resources deems the request complete, the agency has five working days to notify customers within the affected basins during a 30-day public comment period. The state will take input online

The state marked 21 groundwater basins as “critically overdrafted.” While most of them are in the Central Valley, three are local in the Pajaro, Soquel and Salinas areas.