SB6 language clear as water: “No ‘volunteers,’ no grant funding”
Water, water everywhere … and who’s going to monitor Mono County’s? According to the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR), one of us had better.
During the Mono County Board of Supervisors’ Nov. 9 meeting, Assistant County Counsel Stacey Simon briefed lawmakers on long-awaited draft language for SB6, the groundwater monitoring law. Authored by Senate President pro-tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), SB6 establishes a groundwater monitoring program in which volunteers, using prescribed procedures, may be designated by the DWR as groundwater monitoring entities. That duty includes monitoring and reporting with regard to groundwater elevations in all or part of a basin or subbasin, as defined by the DWR.
The bill authorizes the department to work with each monitoring entity to determine the manner in which groundwater elevation information should be reported, make recommendations for improving an existing monitoring program, and require additional monitoring wells under certain circumstances.
The department would be required to conduct an investigation of the state’s groundwater basins and to report its findings to the Governor and the State Legislature not later than January 1, 2012, and thereafter in years ending in a 5 or a 0.
If you were waiting for the other shoe to drop, here it comes: under certain circumstances, say if there are no “volunteers” or one has to relinquish the duty, then the DWR is be required to perform groundwater monitoring functions. In that event, entities with authority to perform groundwater monitoring functions, such as Mono County, would NOT be eligible for any water grants or loans awarded or administered by the state.
Simon told the board that once a monitoring entity, be it the County or another person or organization, is selected, the next major step is to submit a plan, ideally by early 2011.
The draft, however, appears to be vague on certain points. There are guidelines as to how to locate wells and take measurements, etc., but the document doesn’t address how to “un-volunteer” as a monitoring entity.
How much of Mono County is to be monitored is yet to be determined, as is who will lace up their boots to do the work. Simon opined that Tri-Valley [Groundwater Management District] may want to volunteer as the water monitoring entity for Mono County, but added she thinks that a partnership may be the best solution. Tri-Valley, she pointed out, lacks staff and may not be able to keep up with the workload required.