Board adopts groundwater management plan to protect county water
Bob Vince, of Brown and Caldwell, the contractor who prepared the plan, said the plan move away from focusing on sustainable yield for groundwater use and moves toward historic uses. It seeks to understand and protect historic uses along the Nevada border, where there hasn’t been a lot of use. The plan seeks to direct future actions and decisions toward protecting baseline groundwater levels.
Vince also said the GWMP makes the county eligible for competitive state grant funds included in the governor’s budget. Proposition 84 made $1 billion available for development of plans and implementation of projects. Brown and Caldwell has offices in 47 cities across the country including Davis, Calif. and Carson City, Nev.
Vince said the plan focuses on protecting historic uses and the quantity and quality of groundwater in the county’s wells.
Susanville resident Phil Nemir said groundwater is declining in the Herlong area.
“That’s a trend that needs to be addressed,” Nemir said. “I’m not sure how that would be addressed, since the plan really has no enforcement teeth.”
He said, “Some group needs to be responsible for looking at these trends and if there’s a problem, address it.”
Nemir said the plan is a great start, “but where do we go from here?”
“We’re metering, I think it’s 83 wells, and we’re trying to get an historic line so we’ll know where our groundwater is, in case somebody wants to come in and take some of our groundwater.”
“And dump it in the river,” District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson said.
“You bet and send it down to the valley,” Albaugh said. “So, I hope that there’s some method to start keeping track of your groundwater, how much is coming out and what your groundwater levels are. And I hope you include all of the water districts in Lassen County, including Big Valley, Pitville, Surprise Valley and all.”
The Susanville City Council considered the plan at two meetings, one in February and the second on March 7. The council authorized Community Services Director Rob Hill to draft a comment letter for Mayor Lino Callegari’s signature.
The letter, dated March 8, extended support for the GWMP. But the council also expressed concern about future development.
“Approximately 3,700 city water customers depend on clean, available water for their livelihood,” it said. “With the population of Susanville and Lassen County continuing to expand, the council wants to ensure that consideration of future development is not omitted from the plan.”
Future development is not addressed in the GWMP’s stated objectives in Section 3.2, the letter said.
The council requesting adding another objective to the plan to read:
“Facilitate responsible and sustainable development of the future domestic groundwater supplies for urban development.”
The letter also expressed concern about the establishment of management sub-areas through the basin management objectives process.
“The council wants to see a management sub-area established to include Susanville, Johnstonville, and Gold Run area,” it said. “The city is aware that the sub-areas are not established at this time. However, the city is requesting for the record that it be represented on the BMO Working Group that guides the identification of sub-areas and also the Water Advisory Committee once the plan is adopted.”
District 3 Supervisor Lloyd Keefer said the county needs to pursue grants and needs more good monitoring data, not only of agricultural wells but also residential wells.
“I think we need to be looking at a lot of the residential wells from along the escarpment, that’s where most of the growth pressures are, all the way from Susanville clear to Hallelujah Junction.”
Further data collection will depend on the county’s success in getting grant funding, Keefer said.
Supervisor Jim Chapman made a motion to adopted the plan, incorporating the comments where possible. The board voted to adopt it 4-0, with District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle absent.
“There probably isn’t a more important issue in front of us,” Hanson said.
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