Groundwater Resources paeg
MEETINGS Groundwater Government Traffic Urban Sprawl Land Use Quality of Life Links

John King's Overdraft Letter



Did you know that this letter was hand delivered to all the addressees in the side bar? But despite the fact that each office date-stamped the document very few recipients claim that they got it. more>>

January 14, 2003


Re: Critical Overdraft of Groundwater Supplies & Loss of Recharge Lands

Dear Mayors, Council Members, and Agency Representatives,

For the first time in the history of Sonoma County some hard decisions will have to be made concerning the future protection of our irreplaceable groundwater resources if they are to remain sustainable. The demand for groundwater is increasing while groundwater recharge land is diminishing.

Information revealed in Rohnert Park’s May 2000 EIR for their General Plan Update shows that the groundwater table in the Southern Region of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Basin has dropped as much as 150 feet over the past 25 years. The impacts of these declines, however, are not restricted to the area beneath the existing city limit.

Recent surveys of local property owners in surrounding areas show that private wells used daily for residential and agricultural use are going dry too. As each year passes, more and more property owners are being forced to lower existing submersible pumps or drill new, deeper wells in an effort to access remaining groundwater supplies.

Rohnert Park’s consultants, PES Environmental, Inc., have established that a large sub-region of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Basin recharges, on an annualized daily basis, at a rate of 1.6 million gallons per day (mgd). PES Environmental, Inc. has prepared a map that defines this 4.5-mile by 6.5-mile wide sub-region (see map). This diamond-shaped sub-region begins at the southern edge of Santa Rosa and extends southward to the northern edge of the Penngrove core area, and expands in an east / west direction from the Sonoma Mountains to the Cunningham / Laguna de Santa Rosa area just north of Hessel. Existing groundwater demand in this area includes, but is not limited to: Northern Penngrove 300,000 gallons per day (estimated), Sonoma State University 165,000 gallons per day, City of Cotati 400,000 gallons per day, and Rohnert Park 4,200,000 gallons per day. Total average daily consumption is 5,065,000 gallons. This count does not include the Sonoma County Water Agency well located at Todd Road which continues to pump 1,700,000 gallons per day (for over 3 years) and does not include all the residential, commercial, and agricultural groundwater used in the area West and North of Rohnert Park that lies within the identified sub-region. This SCWA well alone extracts more water per day (1.7 mgd) than is recharging (1.6 mgd) in our sub-region of the Santa Rosa Groundwater Basin.

Conservative estimates indicate that 5 million gallons per day (mgd) or more are critically over-drafted from this region. With demand continuing to exceed supply and uncertain surface water supplies, it is inevitable that mandatory groundwater rationing in this sub-region of Sonoma County will become necessary. Rohnert Park must abandon reliance on groundwater supplies without exception.

Unfortunately, recent litigation has been necessary to protect identified groundwater recharge lands that, as a consequence, have been historically zoned at 1 home per 20 acres. The land in question is part of an attempt by the City of Rohnert Park to annex land from the unincorporated area of Penngrove. The litigation continues.

Under current policy City annexation of County identified groundwater recharge lands lose County Zoning restrictions – Cities are free to impose high-density development land use policies on these very lands.

Approximately 1,000 pages of documentation concerning proof of groundwater declines and existing unimplemented State Groundwater Management Policy have now been provided to the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Sonoma County General Plan Update. The contents includes excerpts from numerous State Water Studies, State Water Code, Guidebook for Implementation of Senate Bill 610 and 221 of 2001 which is designed to assist Water Suppliers, Cities, and Counties in integrating water and land use planning, Rohnert Park’s EIR, Well Survey Forms, maps of identified local groundwater recharge lands, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Groundwater Management Plan, etc., etc.

I have requested of the CAC that in the reformulation of County Water Policy that the following issues be fully addressed:

· Update identification of all groundwater recharge land here in Sonoma County.
· Prevent further loss of recharge lands.
· Prevent over-drafting of groundwater supplies.
· Prevent land subsidence.
· Identify and monitor areas of land subsidence.
· Establish baseline levels for identifying groundwater and surface water levels with respect to sustainable yields.
· Establish groundwater and surface water monitoring policies that meet or exceed the California Department of Water Resource Guidelines for sustainable yields.
· Protect water related ecosystems.
· Protect groundwater basins.
· Protect watersheds and ensure sustainability of water supplies resourced outside Sonoma County for Sonoma County consumption.
· Mandate allocation and delivery of surface water supplies to identified areas of known groundwater over-drafting.
· Prohibit the sale of surface and or groundwater supplies to contractors outside Sonoma County.
· Require property owners to test well water annually for bacterial contamination and present a copy of the test results to identified County Agency.
· Prohibit growth when development uses sustainable out-of-the-area aqueduct delivered water supplies but destroys groundwater recharge areas where development is planned here in Sonoma County.
· Prove that the issuance of well development permits will not cause or contribute to over-drafting of groundwater supplies, regardless of jurisdiction in Sonoma County.
· Lands annexed by Cities from County domain must not be allowed to remove zoning and land use restrictions that have been put in place to protect and safeguard regional water resources.

Existing County Water policies do not properly address the aforementioned issues. As a result there is an increasing number of County residents and property owners who are burdened with the expense of finding replacement groundwater supplies. Property owners in unincorporated areas of Sonoma County, where groundwater supplies are in decline, are paying through their property tax bill for the cost of building Warm Springs Dam – yet the water in Lake Sonoma is tentatively being allocated to Water Contractors in Sonoma County and North Marin for future growth. These same “dry well” property owners are not in the “head count”. What’s wrong with this picture?

The residents of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sub-Region are in serious trouble. It is clear that mandatory groundwater rationing is inevitable.

The State Department of Water Resources identifies the Sonoma County Water Agency as being responsible for managing surface and groundwater resources. The current Sonoma County Urban Water Management Plan does not address Groundwater Management – no one is in control.

Prior to additional growth and development, surface water supplies must be reallocated to all Cities and Water Contractors – the use of groundwater must be prohibited where possible to ensure sustainable high-quality, un-chlorinated groundwater supplies for the unincorporated areas of the County.

Sound water policy should be based on fact, not politics.

How unfortunate our Sonoma County Board of Supervisors finds it appropriate to knowingly appoint Land Investor/Developer Craig Harrington to the 3-member General Plan Update Water Subcommittee. The Subcommittee is responsible for taking public comment and formulating draft water policy for the General Plan Update. Mr. Harrington’s significant Land Investments in the same Sub-Region that is being critically over-drafted may be the reason Mr. Harrington has knowingly voted to not adopt countywide policies that would protect identified groundwater recharge lands. Mr. Harrington’s Company, Quaker Hill Development, is planning on building a significant portion of Rohnert Park’s proposed 4,500 homes on California Department of Water Resources – identified Recharge Lands of the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Basin. This is unacceptable. Mr. Harrington and others who lack independence must be removed immediately from serving on the 15-member Citizens Advisory Committee for the General Plan Update. (See Attached Article)

Therefore, I request that all appropriate Sonoma County Agencies, Water Contractors, Cities, and State Authorities submit for consideration all relevant water data and participate in the Sonoma County General Plan Update process by commenting on the draft water policies.

The 30-day Public Comment Period for the General Plan Update Environmental Impact Report started on January 10, 2003 and ends February 10, 2003. The Sonoma County Planning and Resource Management Department (PRMD) must receive your comments no later than February 10, 2003.

Please support the development and implementation of a Groundwater Management Plan that meets or exceeds California Department of Water Resource standards.

The economic future and the quality of life for Sonoma County residents are reliant on sustainable groundwater supplies.

John E. King

Cc: Susan Brandt-Hawley – Attorney At Law
Derek J. Simmons – Attorney At Law
South County Resource Preservation Committee Database

Attachments: PES Sub-Regional Map, College Park Mutual Water Company Letter, Petaluma /North Marin / Rohnert Park Temporary Water Agreement, Stipulated Judgment, Rohnert Park Request for Groundwater Management Plan, SCWA Response, SCWA Urban Water Management Plan, DWR Elements of Urban Water Management Plan, Senate Bill 610 & 221 Implementation, Penngrove Specific Plan, DWR Evaluation of Groundwater Resources Map, DWR – Rohnert Park Study, Rohnert Park May 2000 EIR, RP Well Production Report, SSU Groundwater Consumption, Santa Clara Valley Water District Groundwater Management Plan, Dr. Steve Carle / CAC General Plan Update Letter, Napa County Groundwater Extraction Ordinance, Regional Groundwater Survey Form Sample.

Note: The aforementioned document excerpts are submitted as a reference only to show that groundwater is in decline, who is affected, what policies exist at state levels, and how County policies have failed.


To: City of Cloverdale
124 N. Cloverdale Boulevard
Cloverdale, Ca 95425
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Cotati
201 West Sierra Avenue
Cotati, CA 94931
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Healdsburg
401 Grove Street
Healdsburg, Ca 95444
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Petaluma
11 English Street
Petaluma, CA 94952
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Rohnert Park
6750 Commerce Boulevard
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Santa Rosa
100 Santa Rosa Avenue, Room 10
Santa Rosa, Ca 95404
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Sebastopol
7120 Bodega Avenue
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Sonoma
1 The Plaza
Sonoma, Ca 95476
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

City of Windsor
9291 Old Redwood Highway
Building 400
Windsor, Ca 95492
Attn: Mayor & Council Members

California Department of Water Resources
Division of Planning and Local Assistance
Central District
3251 ‘S’ Street
Sacramento, Ca 95816
Attn: Bob Niblack

State Water Resources Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, Ca 95814
Attn: Arthur G. Baggett, Jr.

California Regional Water Quality Control Board
San Francisco Bay Region
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400
Oakland, Ca 94612
Attn: Sandi Potter

California Regional Water Quality Control Board
North Coast Region
5550 Skyline Boulevard, Suite A
Santa Rosa, Ca 95403
Attn: Bill Massey

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 102 A
Santa Rosa, Ca 95403
Attn: Board Members

Sonoma County Department of Health Services
Environmental Health Division
Community Outreach Specialist
3273 Airway Drive, Suite D
Santa Rosa, Ca 95403-2097
Attn: Laura Barnthouse

Sonoma County LAFCO
575 Administration Drive, Room 102 A
Santa Rosa, Ca 95403
Attn: Steve Sharpe

Sonoma County Permit & Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, Ca 95403
Attn: Pete Parkinson

Sonoma County Water Agency
2150 West College Avenue
Santa Rosa, Ca 95406
Attn: Randy Poole

Sonoma State University
1801 E. Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, Ca 95404
Attn: President Ruben Arminana

Penngrove Area Plan Advisory Committee
P.O. Box 227
Penngrove, Ca 94951
Attn: Harriet Boysen

From: John E. King
8617 Petaluma Hill Road
Penngrove, Ca 94951

©2003 :: Request Email Bulletins :: Contact Us :: :: Who We Are :: Supporters ::