New Sonoma County groundwater agency set to decide user fees for well water

Apr 11, 2019 at 1:00pm

The Press Democrat

One of Sonoma County’s newest and most obscure public agencies is scheduled Thursday to consider fees for residents, ranchers and businesses who use well water in the Santa Rosa Plain.

The meeting will start with a discussion of the proposed fees at 1 p.m., with official consideration of a groundwater ordinance no earlier than 2 p.m.

Established two years ago in compliance with state law, the agency is responsible for sustaining the quality and quantity of underground water in the plain, which is generally the valley floor from Cotati to Windsor and from the foot of Sonoma Mountain to Sebastopol.

Rural residents who rely solely on well water would pay $8 to $13 a year. All rural landowners are assumed to use a half-acre-foot (162,925 gallons) of groundwater annually.

 State law prohibits mandatory metering on wells used for homes, gardens and landscaping — but not for commercial purposes — that use less than 2 acre-feet of water per year.

 Larger water users, including cities, towns, mutual water companies, wineries, farms, businesses, school and golf courses, would pay $16 to $26 per acre-foot (325,851 gallons).

The ordinance would also establish a well registration program, under which the agency would send letters to all residents and businesses in areas without a public water system and ranchers who are assumed to have a well, advising them they will be registered.

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