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Closing in on a Ground Sustainability Plan

 

Last updated 8/21/2018 at 12:27pm

It's complicated, but step-by-step, piece-by-piece, the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for dealing long-term with our critically over-drafted aquifer is getting ever closer to draft stage.

The document, now in the early stages of preparation by our Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA – Core Team of BWD and County officials), will serve as the guiding roadmap for groundwater-related management actions to be re-evaluated in 5-year increments out to the year 2040.

Over a period of 19 months, the GSA has convened 12 Advisory Committee (AC) Meetings and one Severely Disadvantaged Community (SDAC) Socio-Economic Workshop. The AC is comprised of nine members serving the interests of designated stakeholders.

The GSP is due in final form for County/State approval by January 2020. We must by State mandate (the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act – SGMA) show how the GSP will, by verifiable means, reduce aquifer draw-down by 70-75% from current usage to attain a sustainable aquifer yield of 5,700 acre-feet per year by 2040.

Included in the SGMA mandate is the need for public input and assessment of socio-economic impacts, and the Advisory Committee and Core Team are now considering a requested change in the time for public input on the draft GSP from 45 days to 60 days.

At the July 26 public meeting held at the Borrego Springs Resort, the AC/Core Team reviewed presentations by GSP consultants covering both broad and specific actions and management issues to be addressed in the GSP. Hydrogeology consultant Trey Driscoll of Dudek, Inc. showed how their hydrogeologic conceptual model (HCM) can compute aquifer outflows and inflows, plus generate computer simulations for past and future aquifer dynamics, including water quantity and quality aspects.

Water budgets, analytical and numerical models, and monitoring networks are all included in the mix of critical, objective information to be made available for GSP-related topics going forward.

"The HCM has been updated with current groundwater level data, land use data, stream flow data, extraction data, and septic system return flows," according to the Dudek report.

The HCM shows (via annotations by this reporter) that we will extract about 80,000 acre-feet of water from our aquifer over the next five years or so, before we even begin to move away from current aquifer storage depletion and in a positive direction towards sustainability (approx. 600,000 acre-feet of storage) the following 15 years.

Rachel Ralston of LeSar Development Constultants has been working under Proposition 1 funding to gather data needed to assess the socio-economic impacts and mitigation options related to the SGMA-mandated GSP on our community. Both Driscoll and Ralston helped to make clearer to AC/GSA Core Team members the current status of action items and management alternatives yet to be finalized.

Full story in the Aug. 9 issue of the Borrego Sun.

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