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Author: Justin Mendes

Well Registration Deadline Set by Board: Register Your Wells with North Fork Kings GSA’s Well Registration Program Before October 1 to Avoid Fees

In January 2024, the North Fork Kings GSA fully launched a Well Registration Program for well owners using the online tool Watermark. Starting July 1, 2024, well registration will be required for all domestic and agricultural wells within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary. Registering a well(s) will be free until September 30. After October 1, an initial registration fee of $100 per well will be charged. The board will consider an escalating fee scale in 2025.

Landowners who register their wells before the deadline will be first in line for future grant opportunities to fund the installation of meters. North Fork Kings GSA is pursuing grants to offer to those who want to install meters to track their groundwater under a future allocation program.

Registration is also a prerequisite to receive any financial assistance for domestic drinking water wells impacted by groundwater level declines under the new Domestic Well Mitigation program, set to launch October 1.

Landowners have been encouraged to take prompt action and participate in well registration to keep local control of groundwater management. Up until July, the program has been voluntary for landowners, starting with an early launch in November 2023, followed by a complete launch to all landowners in January.

Throughout the launching process, the North Fork Kings GSA has provided direct support to landowners at customer support workshops held in February and March and through one-on-one virtual appointments in an effort to help landowners activate their Watermark accounts and register their wells. The agency will continue to provide this support to its landowners through its Watermark support team. 

As of June 2024, 493 wells have been registered, and over 50% of North Fork Kings GSA’s total acreage has been enrolled in the Well Registration Program on Watermark. The Board of Directors determined at the June 26th Board Meeting that well registration must be mandatory to ensure enough participation to complete required groundwater studies.  

The Well Registration Program is closely linked to a state-mandated groundwater study focused on the confined aquifer. This study will allow North Fork Kings GSA to better understand land subsidence and groundwater flows.  The groundwater study must be completed by the fall of this year ahead of the 2025 Groundwater Sustainability Plan update and submittal to the State.

The North Fork Kings GSA strongly encourages well owners to register both agricultural and domestic (private drinking water) wells to avoid fees in October.

To register your wells today and find more information, visit northforkkings.org/watermark. For further assistance, landowners can contact the GSA at (559) 632-7032 or contact the Watermark support team by email at help@northforkkings.org or submit a Freshdesk support ticket within Watermark.

North Fork Kings GSA Proposition 218 Election Passes – Next Steps for the GSA and Landowners

Following the June 26 North Fork Kings GSA board meeting and public hearing, the successful Proposition 218 election results were announced, with 87% of votes in support. Votes in the election were weighted by acreage, and 514 ballots were received. The Board of Directors set the assessment rate at $6.00 per acre for fiscal year 2024-2025.

The agency plans to escalate the rate each fiscal year until it reaches the approved maximum of $18 per acre in 2027, as detailed in the now-approved Prop 218 budget. Beginning this fall 2024, landowners will see the assessment as part of their county property taxes and will be payable in December 2024 and April 2025.

We appreciate our landowners’ support on the Prop 218 and their trust in our GSA to continue managing our groundwater with local leadership,” said North Fork Kings GSA General Manager Justin Mendes. “This funding is a crucial part of maintaining our approval from the State and will enable us to continue striving for sustainability under local management.”

The assessment will help implement GSP activities and programs that are essential in keeping the North Fork Kings GSA’s good standing with the State. SGMA is an unfunded mandate, leaving it up to the local GSA to generate funding to meet its requirements.

Where will assessments be invested?

  1. Administrative costs: this enables the agency to maintain administrative functions, covering expenses related to General Manager duties and future agency staff
  2. Professional services: this includes consultants and attorneys that provide a variety of services needed for the agency’s operations in support of GSA activities for the General Manager
  3. GSP implementation: this includes expenses for implementing its Groundwater Sustainability Plan to meet State sustainability requirements

Most immediately, the funding will help the GSA fund the required work to update its Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for resubmittal in January 2025. The North Fork Kings GSA received conditional approval on its GSP from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in 2023. The approval was conditional on the grounds that the GSA fix twelve corrective actions provided by DWR.

The North Fork Kings GSA, along with the six other Kings Subbasin GSAs, are working to address the corrective actions to keep State approval and avoid the risk of the probationary process. Passing the Prop 218 election was a critical step to achieve that goal.

The North Fork Kings GSA has been funded through land-based assessments since 2018. That year, the GSA passed a Prop 218 election with 94% of votes in support of the assessment. The previous election authorized the agency to assess up to a maximum of $10 per acre per year but had a five-year sunset concluding with fiscal year 2022-2023. Reserves were used to fund GSA activities in fiscal year 2023-2024. The North Fork Kings GSA is committed to the same financial stewardship it used for the duration of the previous Prop 218 assessment, and will set the rate annually to meet anticipated expenses while keeping assessments as low as possible for landowners.

With continued collaboration with landowners, the North Fork Kings GSA looks forward to operating as a local, stakeholder-driven agency. To learn more about the Prop 218 and for future updates, visit www.northforkkings.org/218election.

Read our Prop 218 Educational Handout and FAQs here.

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