Regulation for wells, groundwater usage
The North Fork Kings GSA Board adopted Rules and Regulations in December 2020 to sustainably manage groundwater within the GSA boundary. These regulations, which will be periodically updated, are necessary to implement solutions that will provide a groundwater supply buffer for landowners to use during drier years. The regulations cover topics such as registration of wells, installation of flowmeters, groundwater usage, fees, and storage of groundwater. You can review these rules on the Board Policies webpage.
Here is a brief overview of each of these:
A landowner may use existing facilities to store surface water underground within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary and can then put that water to their own beneficial use within the GSA boundaries. The GSA is currently developing the process for growers to participate in an individual recharge program.
Any new wells constructed after January 31, 2021 must be registered with the North Fork Kings GSA within 30 days of drilling completion. All new wells must also install a flowmeter at the time of construction. Metering wells will allow the North Fork Kings GSA to have reliable, accurate extraction data to more effectively track progress and achieve sustainability goals.
All existing wells owned by landowners who own sixty or more acres within the North Fork Kings GSA boundary need to be registered with the North Fork Kings GSA by July 1, 2022. All other wells must be registered by January 1, 2023.
Criteria for Using Meters
All new extraction wells, excluding de minimis users (a person who extracts 2 acre-feet per year or less of groundwater for domestic purposes) are required to be measured by flowmeters and all costs associated with the purchase, installation, operation and maintenance of flowmeters shall be borne by the owner or operation of each extraction facility. In the future, the North Fork Kings GSA may require flowmeters on all non-de minimis wells.
Currently, the North Fork Kings GSA is utilizing satellite imagery, needs analysis, local precipitation and surface water accounting to determine pumping in the region. This technology along with meter information is necessary to develop an accurate water balance for the region. Technical groups are developing future groundwater allocations which are necessary to balance groundwater supplies.
Fees & Assessments
The North Fork Kings GSA is funded through land-based assessments that are included on County property tax bills. North Fork Kings GSA landowners voted to allow a maximum $10.00 per acre assessment in order to locally manage groundwater. In the future, groundwater pumping fees may be necessary to build recharge ponds to replenish groundwater in rainy years.
If the North Fork Kings GSA is unable to locally fund the implementation of SGMA and achieve groundwater sustainability, the State could step in and impose a fee structure on groundwater pumpers many times more costly than the North Fork Kings GSA. They, the State, will also regulate how much groundwater a landowner can pump.