Regional Groundwater Sustainability – The Plans are Finished so what’s Next?

Over the past several years local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) charged with managing the region’s groundwater have been assessing the condition of the region’s groundwater resources and developing monitoring systems and management plans and projects to maintain the sustainability of these resources for the foreseeable future. These efforts have resulted in the completion of three Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) that cover each of the region’s groundwater subbasins – North American Subbasin, South American Subbasin, and Cosumnes Subbasin. The GSPs respond to State required planning criteria outlined in the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The California Department of Water Resources webpage has information about SGMA, the GSP planning process, and a public portal containing the three GSPs for the Sacramento region.  

ECOS, through the Water Committee, has participated in the development of these GSPs by attending public meetings and workshops, and providing comments on the draft plans. We have condensed these comments into a matrix comparing comments for each of the three GSPs. The matrix contains a summary of each original comment and, in bold, the actions taken by the GSAs to address each comment as documented in the final adopted GSPs. The full text of each ECOS comment letter can be found on the ECOS web site.

While some comments have been addressed in the final plans, others were not. For example, key aspects of the GSPs are six sustainability indicators that establish thresholds for when management actions must be taken to assure continued subbasin sustainability. The North American Subbasin GSP calls for management actions to be taken after one year of one or more of the GSP sustainability indicators exceeding action levels thus indicating the subbasin is in trouble. Unfortunately, the South American Subbasin allows three years of indicator exceedance that may lead to no actions being taken until the fourth year of an indicator being exceeded. The Cosumnes Subbasin did adjust their corresponding exceedance time periods but still allow a problem to exceed one or more threshold criteria for at least two years before actions to remedy the situation are taken. ECOS has argued that a one year exceedance criteria is acceptable and should be utilized in all three GSPs.

ECOS also believes climate change is not effectively addressed in the plans. All three GSPs base their management actions on a climate scenario that seems less realistic than current climate experience and the latest climate science indicates. This errant planning assumption may significantly overestimate the amount of groundwater available to meet demands in the future. If not corrected, sustainable management of the subbasins may be very difficult within the next decade.

ECOS members are meeting with the local GSA representatives to explore options to address our concerns prior to the next GSP updates which are due in 2025. Depending on the outcome of these meetings ECOS may find it necessary to participate in the State’s GSP public comment process.

Click here to view the matrix.

ECOS Letter to Sac County re Climate Action Plan

On March 23rd, 2022, Sacramento County held a workshop on their CLimate Action Plan. ECOS, Sierra Club, 350 Sacramento, as well as several other organizations and many residents, provided testimony during the workshop.

ECOS submitted a letter preceding the meeting, stating:

We’re grateful for the effort that County staff has made developing this CAP draft. However, it doesn’t address the biggest change we need to make: we need to increase housing in ways that don’t increase commute distances and thereby make our air and climate less healthy.

Click here to read our letter in full.

It’s your mother calling… March 29, 2022 – ECOS MTG/Board Business

LINK to join: ECOS ZOOM 6656164155 or call: 1 669 900 6833, Mtg ID: 665 616 4155

It’s your mother calling – you know, Mother Earth!

I’m having hot flashes and I need your help!

Now that we have your attention, here’s why we’re calling you. We’d like to invite you to a conversation about the future of ECOS and how can we help each other meet our goals.

Our strategy committee has spent quite a few hours thinking about how to make ECOS more effective, and as your new President, I’ve been losing sleep over it. In this almost post-pandemic world, we want to reboot this organization and use our limited resources as wisely as possible.

Climate change has most of us worried, and we need to focus our effort to succeed. Both the City and County are developing climate action plans, but radical action is required. We are running out of time. We need to sharpen our messages and work better together to make the progress we need to make.

Will you join us and the 40+ members of the ECOS Board for a spirited conversation, facilitated by me, former ECOS president Ralph Propper, and former mayor Heather Fargo, about what’s next? We want to discuss how we can work together and how we can get more people to understand what is at risk, to save the planet and ensure a sustainable future.

Some of the most caring and capable people in Sacramento are on the ECOS board. I’m convinced we can do better and that we need to do better.

Please join us via ZOOM on March 29, 2022 from 6:00-7:30pm. Your mother (and daughter) will thank you.

This is an different kind of ECOS meeting, but is nevertheless our regularly scheduled ECOS MTG/Board Meeting. Please join us. At the end we will cover Board business.

LINK to join: ECOS ZOOM 6656164155 or call: 1 669 900 6833, Mtg ID: 665 616 4155

Susan Herre

ECOS President

ECOS Letter re City of Sac Transportation Priorities Plan

On March 15, 2022, ECOS submitted a letter to the City of Sacramento regarding their Transportation Priorities Plan. Below is an excerpt from our letter.

ECOS recommends:
1) The schedule for developing the TPP plan should be accelerated so projects can be eligible for funding sooner and built sooner.
2) SacRT’s transit system should be the backbone around which the City’s transportation projects are selected, to make existing transit station areas and transit corridors more walkable and livable. This approach is consistent with state law (SB375, SB743), regional policies (SACOG Blueprint, Green Means Go), and it would enable the leveraging of federal grants.

Click here to read the letter in full.