Building a Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Pursuant to SGMA, the NDGSA is obligated to undertake a variety of activities in order to achieve legal compliance. The NDGSA must undertake scientific investigations in its management area in order to fully understand the existing groundwater conditions; existing publicly available data will be used for this purpose, to the extent possible. Based on these investigations, the NDGSA will pinpoint the sustainability concerns, also known as undesirable results, and formulate management strategies as necessary to address those issues. The management strategies will be outlined in a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (“GSP”) (or potentially multiple GSPs if the basin boundary modification request is not approved) that will be implemented by 2022 and will guide future management activities. Following implementation of the GSP (or GSPs), the NDGSA will continue to monitor groundwater conditions, adaptively managing the resources based on the impacts of the GSP.

Funding the GSP

To sufficiently fund the NDGSA’s essential operations and undertake the activities required by SGMA, the NDGSA needs to develop and implement a fee structure within the Agency’s management area. To comply with SGMA, the NDGSA must develop, or cooperate with other GSAs in the Subbasins to develop, a GSP (or multiple GSPs) that provides for achieving groundwater sustainability in the Subbasins underlying the Agency within a period of 20 years from the date of GSP implementation.

Based on the Agency’s budgetary needs to meet this legislative mandate, the NDGSA Board of Directors is proposing to impose a fee to generate revenue sufficient to fund both annual Agency operations costs and expenses associated with the development and implementation of a GSP. The annual operational costs have already begun to accrue for ongoing NDGSA operations and activities, including retaining a technical consultant and legal counsel to provide the NDGSA with oversight and assist the Agency with attaining SGMA compliance. Expenses consist of technical analyses needed to understand the local hydrogeology, pursue a groundwater basin boundary modification request, support GSP development, and implement GSP(s). These expenses are expected to occur over several years with the highest annual costs anticipated during the five-year period of 2018 through 2022.

Please note that, while the NDGSA does have members agencies that are Reclamation District GSAs (and other agencies), none of the fees collected for the NDGSA through the Proposition 218 process will go to those agencies or their activities. The funds collected by this process are strictly for the NDGSA to sustainably manage groundwater in order to comply with SGMA.

Because the NDGSA overlies multiple groundwater basins, the income from fees will be maintained and accounted separately by basin prior to the potential approval of the Northern Delta Subbasin boundary modification process. Any activities undertaken by the NDGSA that benefit all of the Agency’s service area, such as administrative actions, will funded by drawing down the separate funds proportionally by geographic area; any activities that only provide services and benefits to one groundwater basin will be financed with funds collected from property within that same basin. This accounting practice will ensure that each geographic area pays only its share of the costs.

The proposed fee schedule will apply to all assessable parcels within the Agency’s boundaries as the NDGSA’s administrative and GSP-development services are provided to all parcels. Some parcels may not be assessable due to public ownership. The County Assessors’ rolls for the portions of Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo counties within the Agency’s jurisdiction identify the acreage for each of these parcels. The actual fee will be set annually by the NDGSA Board, based on the budget needs, but not to exceed the proposed rate. If activities are proposed to attain the sustainability criteria established in the GSP that would require supplemental funding and fees greater than the fees recommended in this report, the NDGSA would need to adopt a new fee schedule to fund these costs, and if necessary, will comply with the requirements in Article XIIID of the California Constitution, commonly referred to as Proposition 218 requirements.

The NDGSA Board of Directors is proposing to adopt fees to cover the proposed budget, not to exceed $3.00 per acre for all assessable parcels. This amount will be applied proportionally to all parcels based on their actual size (e.g., a 0.25 acre parcel will be charged $0.75 if the annual fee is $3.00 per acre). Importantly, the specific annual fee levied may vary each year but will not exceed $3.00 per acre. The NDGSA Board will annually review the required funding and, depending on the projected funding needs, may approve annual rates up to the fee outlined here. The proposed annual rate is designed to allow the NDGSA to levy the fees to pay increases in operating costs and special activities without having to repeat the Proposition 218 process for several years to come. The NDGSA Board will always strive to minimize costs.

The NDGSA is adopting the fee schedule pursuant to requirements in Article XIIID of the California Constitution for adoption of fees and charges and associated implementing statutory provisions codified at California Government Code sections 53750–53756. 

The Cost of Service Report, property tax rolls, and proposed budget are available here.

Find updates about the funding process on the News & Updates page.