The Cost of Groundwater Management
An unfunded California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires better management and balance of groundwater supplies in a groundwater subbasin through the creation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with extensive powers to manage groundwater.
An assessment is necessary to cover the costs to follow the new State law within the stipulated deadlines. Based on the Agency’s needs, the South Fork Kings GSA Board of Directors is requesting landowner approval to levy assessments to generate sufficient revenue to fund both annual Agency operational costs and expenses associated with the development and initial implementation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan. However, the assessment will only be imposed after approval by the voters.
Failure Comes at a Greater Cost
The proposed assessment must be supported by landowners within the South Fork Kings GSA territory. If the GSA is unable to fund its efforts to comply with the regulation, the State will intervene and implement the law at a much higher cost. In the case of State intervention, the State will impose a fee structure on groundwater pumpers many times more costly than what is proposed by South Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency.
South Fork GSA Fees vs. State Fees
Below are comparisons of the South Fork Kings GSA fees at $9.80 per acre versus the State fees for residents and landowners.
- Average sized 1/4 acre residential household parcel base annual payment to the State: $60.09 for the first year
- Average sized 1/4 acre residential household parcel annual payment to the South Fork Kings GSA: $2.45 per parcel per year
- 40 acre ag parcel base annual payment to the State: $7,450 for the first year
- 40 acre ag parcel annual payment to the South Fork Kings GSA: $392 per parcel per year
* State fee for ag parcel can range from approximately $5,000 to over $8,000 depending on crop water use/acre foot and State requirements.
Compliance with the State law is not optional. SGMA stipulates that local GSA’s must develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan by January 31st 2020 and failure to do so will trigger State Intervention. Funding the development and implementation of a GSP through the proposed assessment is crucial to achieving compliance at the local level.
At the March 15, 2018 Board meeting, the Directors of the South Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency approved the Engineer’s Report to conduct a Proposition 218 Election. The Engineer’s Report is prepared in accordance with State law to describe an equitable distribution of the benefit assessments to be derived by each parcel within the Agency upon which such assessments will be levied. The Engineer’s Report discusses benefits of the Agency’s organization, proposed actions, and services provided by the South Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency.
Proposed 5-Year Assessment Schedule
The Agency is requesting landowner approval to levy assessments up to the maximum amount shown in the table below, specifically $9.80/acre for all parcels. The components that make up the total are shown in the table below (click to enlarge) and are explained further in the Engineer’s Report. Note that the assessment amount levied by the Agency may vary from year to year, but will not exceed the maximum amount unless an increase is approved through a subsequent Proposition 218 proceeding. The necessary funding for the Agency will be reviewed annually by the Board and, depending on the funds projected to be needed for the year, may be approved up to the maximum ($9.80 per acre) assessment rate.
Schedule for the Proposition 218 Election Process
|March 15||Board approved Engineer’s Report, set Public Hearing|
|March-May||Conduct public outreach and education|
|May||Prepare and mail ballots|
|June 21||Public Hearing, tabulate received ballots and certify election|