So as more ag land is taken out of production to balance the underground basin how does building more homes make sense?
Jun 20, 2018
We wonder if cities and counties are thinking about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) when planning for new housing developments. The article below talks about Folsom Ranch, a new development of 3300 acres with "11,000 homes and apartments, seven public schools, a pair of fire stations, a police station, a slew of office and commercial buildings and 1,000 acres of parks, trails and other open space. Expected population: 25,000." But state regulators aren't sure they've secured enough water. Whatever water they think they have will begin to change with the implementation of SGMA. On the one hand state officials say there is a need for new housing, the California Dept. of Housing and Community Development saying 180,000 new homes are needed in the state per year or 1.8-million in 10 years. On the other hand, they are making it more difficult to find the necessary water for the homes.
Madera County's Rio Mesa Plan could have 30,000 homes over the next 30 years. Madera County has been deemed 'critically overdrafted' by the SGMA (as is much of the Central Valley) and will have to achieve groundwater sustainability, meaning they can't take more water out of the underground then they can put back in. So as more ag land is taken out of production to balance the underground basin how does building more homes make sense? Taking water out is the easy part, finding water to put back in is trickier. That's really what the Temperance Flat debate was all about.
We would be interested to hear from public officials in local communities with big plans if they've thought about SGMA. It's one thing to tell a farmer he's not going to get water to grow his crops, but quite another to tell a new development of 11,000 or 30,000 people that they can't pump their groundwater because they're in violation of SGMA.
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