Groundwater Assessment Election

Election Results

A Public Hearing was held on June 21, 2018 at 5:30 pm in Lemoore, CA. The Proposition 218 ballots were tabulated and results announced with 74% of votes in favor of the $9.80/acre assessment. Votes were weighted by acreage; 63% of the 65,658 acreage included in the election voted. The Board set the rate at $9.80/acre for the fiscal year 2018-19 to be levied on landowners within the South Fork Kings GSA.

The City of Lemoore entered a cost sharing by agreement on behalf of all property (5,655 acres) in the City limits and has incorporated the ongoing payments into their existing rate structure.

To determine if your property lies within the South Fork Kings GSA, you can use this CA DWR map tool. Type your address into the search bar at the top left of the page to locate your GSA.

Public Notice

Aviso de Audiencia Publica

The Cost of Groundwater Management

An unfunded California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) 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.

A fee is necessary to cover the costs to follow the new State law within its stipulated deadlines. Based on the Agency’s needs, the South Fork Kings GSA Board of Directors conducted and successfully passed a Proposition 218 Election for landowner approval to levy an assessment. The assessment will generate sufficient revenue to fund annual Agency operational costs and expenses associated with the development and initial implementation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan.

The $9.80/acre assessment will be levied on all landowners within the boundaries of the South Fork Kings GSA via Kings County tax rolls starting fiscal year 2018-19. The City of Lemoore entered a cost sharing by agreement on behalf of all proprty (5,655 acres) in the City limits and has incorporated the ongoing payments into their existing rate structure.

Compliance with the State law is not optional. SGMA stipulates that local GSAs must develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan by January 31st 2020; failure to do so will trigger State Intervention. Funding the development and implementation of a GSP through the proposed fee is crucial to achieving compliance at the local level.

The South Fork Kings GSA Board is dedicated to navigating SGMA together as a local community of stakeholders. Implementing SGMA at the local level allows stakeholder input and provides for solutions that carry benefits to our region.

Failure Comes at a Greater Cost

The $9.80/acre will help keep SGMA implementation at the local level. Without funding from the fee, compliance would still have happened but at a much higher cost. The State has introduced a fee structure for probationary basins (those that fail to meet State-mandated deadlines and thus are not in compliance with SGMA) many times more costly than the new South Fork Kings GSA fee. The first trigger for State Intervention is failing to meet the deadline of GSP development by January 2020. Follow the link below for an overview of State Intervention triggers:

State Intervention Triggers

In the case of State Intervention, the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) would impose a fee structure on groundwater pumpers many times more costly than what is proposed by the South Fork Kings GSA, and is likely to impose unfavorable restrictions without providing local benefits.

Basins run the risk of state intervention if they miss the deadline for plans or don’t have a plan that DWR thinks will be sustainable…[State Water Resources Control] Board will proceed with its own plan until the issues are fixed…That kind of interim plan wouldn’t have much flexibility: we’d require monitoring, collect pumping data, and set a schedule for certain corrective actions – likely reduced pumping. SGMA gives us that blunt instrument – reducing pumping – and we would probably use it.Sam Boland-Brien, Groundwater Management Program Chief of the CA State Water Resources Control Board
Read the full interview with Sam Boland-Brien here: Enforcing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

The cost of State Intervention far exceeds the cost of local implementation, and does not carry the same benefits for the local community. The graph below shows the South Fork Kings GSA fees for an average 40 acre parcel versus the State fee structure in the case of State Intervention.

South Fork Kings GSA fees at $9.80/acre versus the State fees 

  • 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

Funding the Local South Fork Kings GSA

Proposition 218 is a Constitutional Initiative approved by the voters of California in November 1996. It requires new or increased fees and assessments be approved by affected landowners.

The South Fork Kings GSA Board is committed to retaining local control over SGMA implementation, where landowner dollars are utilized most efficiently and beneficially. To fund these efforts the Board conducted a Proposition 218 election for approval to levy assessments on landowners within its jurisdiction.

The affected landowners includes all parcel owners within the boundaries of the South Fork Kings GSA. The proposed $9.80/acre fee has a lifetime of 5 years, at the end of which the GSA may hold another Proposition 218 election for additional funding needs.

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.

SFKGSA Engineer’s Report

The Agency has landowner approval via Proposition 218 Election 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. The rate for Fiscal Year 2018/19 has been set at $9.80/acre.

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