SBCWD’s Role & Responsibilities

Groundwater Sustainability Agency

The San Benito County Water District (SBCWD) is the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the Bolsa, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, and Tres Pinos groundwater basins (and is cooperating with Santa Clara Valley Water District, which is the GSA for small portions of the Hollister and San Juan Bautista basins within Santa Clara County). SBCWD also is seeking consolidation of the basins, which would support comprehensive, more cost-effective management of these contiguous, connected basins. The SBCWD has initiated preparation of its Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

The Bolsa, Hollister, and San Juan Bautista basins have been designated by the DWR as medium priority, recognizing that they are important sources of water supply, have been well-managed, and are not critically over-drafted. For medium-priority basins such as these, GSPs must be completed by 2022 and demonstrate sustainability by 2042. SGMA lays out a required schedule with deadlines for GSP preparation, annual reporting, and GSP updates every five years. The GSP must include an implementation plan (with activities, estimated costs, and scheduling) that will support groundwater sustainability into the future. To help with costs of GSP preparation, the SBCWD applied for and received a grant of $830,336 from the Department of Water Resources under the Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program. By law, the GSA may collect fees to help pay for the costs of implementing the GSP and maintaining it into the future.

As a GSA, the District must produce a GSP describing how basin sustainability will be achieved. The GSP must document:

  • The GSA and its decision-making process
  • Stakeholder outreach and communication
  • The GSP Plan Area and its local agencies, land uses, planning, water supply and demand, and existing groundwater monitoring and management
  • The physical setting of the groundwater basins including geology, current and historical groundwater conditions, water budgets, and interactions between the groundwater and surface water systems
  • How sustainability criteria are defined to guide local management
  • Local management actions and projects and how they will be implemented
  • What monitoring is needed to identify problems and to demonstrate sustainability

Recognizing that groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally, SGMA supports local control of the GSA/GSP process, and the involvement of local agencies, water providers, groundwater users, and environmental, business, and agricultural interests. GSP preparation involves collaboration among local water management and land use planning agencies, and substantial outreach to stakeholders and the community including a series of workshops, distribution of informational materials, and opportunities to review and comment on draft sections of the GSP. The goal is to inform, educate, and engage all interested parties in order to create an effective, useful, and successful GSP.

The GSA Board of Directors is comprised of the five members of the San Benito County Water District Board of Directors. The meetings of the GSA board will take place during regular District board meetings. The Board meets the last Wednesday of each month, 5 pm, at the District headquarters located at 30 Mansfield Road, Hollister, CA.