Water is an important topic here in Mendocino County for farmers, ranchers, wildlife, residents and businesses. Farmers and ranchers in Mendocino County are very aware of the importance of a long-term, reliable water supply and good water quality for everyone. Mendocino County Farm Bureau works directly with farmers and ranchers in the various watersheds to consider critically important water issues. Farm Bureau’s Water Committee reaches out to collaborate with multiple stakeholder groups and seeks to build partnerships that allow us to do even more for our members.
Water Committee News
Submitted by Frost Pauli, Water Committee Chair
Ukiah Valley Basin Sustainable Groundwater Agency (UVBGSA)
The UVBGSA submitted the 2022 Annual Report to the State Water Resources Control Board in March. The report can be found on the UVBGSA website. The Annual Report indicates that in 2022, despite horrific drought conditions, that ground water levels in the basin were never in danger of reaching overdraft levels, and that water quality also remained good.
Clint Nelson of Bonterra Vineyards is in process to be approved as the Alternate Ag Representatives on the Board of Directors for the UVBGSA. Nelson will work with current Ag Representative Adam Gaska to bring the GSA into compliance with state mandated groundwater rules and the further development of the Ground Water Sustainability Plan for the Ukiah Basin. Thank you Clint and Adam for your efforts.
Later this spring and summer, the UVBGSA will be working with a consultant to formulate the Rate and Fee Study. Essentially, this consultant will help develop the fee structure which will pay for the implementation of SGMA and the Ground Water Sustainability Plan in the basin. Two consultants were interviewed by the group, Hansford Economic Consulting and SCI Consulting Group. Once a selection is made, the agriculture community will need to be heavily involved with the development of the Rate and Fee Study to ensure a fair and economical outcome. Mendocino County Farm Bureau will be standing by to work one on one with the new consultant and to facilitate face to face meetings with farmers and the team responsible for the study. If all goes to plan the Rate and Fee Study would be completed this year or early next year, and adoption of the new fees could be brought forward in 2024.
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Water Diversion and Use Reporting
If you divert and use water from a surface water source such as a lake, creek, stream, or river, or you divert water from a subterranean stream that flows in a known and definite channel, California law requires you to report your diversion and use to the State Water Board, Division of Water Rights.
On September 23, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 155 which modifies the reporting deadline and reporting period for annual water use to the Division of Water Rights. Provisions in SB 155 consolidate all water use reporting periods, for all types of water rights, to the standard Water Year (October 1 through September 30). Further, the new law consolidates the due dates for all water use reports to February 1 of the ensuing year.
All water right holders who have previously diverted or intend to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year (riparian and pre-1914 ), or are authorized to divert more than 10 acre-feet per year under a permit, license, or registration, are required to measure the water they divert.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
In December 2014, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the ground water basin classifications to determine coverage under SGMA. For Mendocino County, the upper Russian River from the Tomki Road area in Redwood Valley to Knight Hill (north of Hopland) was classified as a medium priority ground water basin, the Ukiah Valley ground water basin # 1-52, and is subject to SGMA compliance. From July of 2016 until July of 2017, the Mendocino County Water Agency hosted public meetings to assist in the formation of the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and Farm Bureau was at the table to ensure that agriculture was represented in the process. The GSA formation was the first step to work toward compliance and this was completed in June of 2017. The Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (UVBGSA) was created by a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) and have been meeting regularly since 2017. The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) was finalized and submitted to DWR in 2022. The GSP is pending final approval from DWR. For additional information, please see the links below.
Other Water Related Resources
“In my opinion, the benefits realized from the small amount of money we pay for the membership, by far outweighs the cost. If I had to go to a Water Rights Specialist alone, I would be talking about hundreds if not thousands of dollars.”member since 1995