Draft Talking Points on Water Issues with PRMD on July 25

Draft Talking Points for SCWC Meeting w/PRMD 7/25/07

The need a grading ordinance and county wide stormwater plan to comply with TMDLs and meet Basin Plan/Water Code water quality objectives.

Below is the latest version of the eight most significant GP2020 water issues we will discuss with PRMD representatives on Wednesday July 25. These issues are based upon our Planning Commission comment letter dated Aug 9, 2006 and include fine-tuning from last night.


Draft Water Resource Element no longer addresses cumulative impact on groundwater of wells supplying single-family homes and agriculture.


1. Restore proposed well monitoring program in all areas including water-scarce areas, or strengthen Policy WR-2g to include specific mention of water-scarce areas, a 2-year deadline to implement the policy and a binding affirmative verb.

2. Include new policy in Groundwater section:

The County shall establish specific and comprehensive groundwater management plans for groundwater basins in the County including but not limited to: the Santa Rosa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Petaluma Valley, the Alexander Valley, Knights Valley, the Wilson Grove Formation Highlands bordering the Laguna de Santa Rosa and the Gualala Basin pursuant to AB3030.

3. Add provision for building moratoria in special study areas until overdraft reversed:

The County shall suspend permit approvals (that would increase water use) within special study areas until a comprehensive groundwater assessment is completed and groundwater declines are reversed.

4. Halt well drilling in overdrafted basins:

The County shall deny permits for new and replacement groundwater wells in basins or subbasins in which the cumulative impact of existing water users has created a condition of unreversed groundwater decline.

5. Use SCWA leverage:

County agencies shall coordinate with all cities and other organizations that both receive water from S.C.W.A. and pump groundwater within Sonoma County to formulate and implement groundwater management plans pursuant to AB3030 within five years of the adoption of this General Plan update.

Draft Water Resource Element must do more to protect groundwater recharge areas.


1. Include new policy in Groundwater section:

Establish requirements for new construction to halt loss of groundwater recharge capacity of aquifers caused by construction that increases impervious surfaces. Proactive measures are required to reduce negative impacts of impervious surfaces and encourage land use practices that increase natural groundwater recharge. These requirements shall be incorporated in appropriate construction standards including without limitation building codes administered by the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department.


Export controls in Water Resource Element must be strengthened. The proposed policy WR-5c does not do the job.


1. Include new policy in Importing and Exporting section:

No water shall be exported to locations outside Sonoma County unless the County has issued a permit for such exportations. In the event a permit is issued, it shall set forth with specificity the details of the exportations (e.g. quantity, origination location, destination location, period of exportation, etc.).


Draft Water Resource Element must do more to protect water quality.


1. Establish water quality goals and objectives that support the current Basin Plans.

2. Include new policy in Water Quality section:

Establish a public education program to raise awareness of the need for source reduction and source control of contaminants used in the home and office.


Conservation section of Water Resource Element needs additional language. Frequent letters to newspapers are from water users complaining about being asked to conserve water when they believe that all the water they save will simply be used to fuel more growth.


1. Include new educational policy:

Support public education programs to provide all County residents with information regarding the finite nature of water resources and guidance for the sustainable use of that resource.

2. Include new policy to allow environment to benefit from conservation:

Give higher priority to water conservation, efficiency and reuse than to developing new water sources, and dedicate most of the water saved to the environment by leaving it untapped in source groundwater and surface water.


Restrictions on Package Treatment Plants need to be strengthened in the Public Facilities Element.


1. Include new policy:

Permit package treatment plants only when they are consistent with the General Plan and when needed to alleviate an existing public health hazard; establish operating procedures, treatment standards and monitoring programs for all plants; require that any package treatment plant discharging more than 1,200 gallons of wastewater per day, or any plant in a State identified groundwater recharge area, treat water to levels suitable for human consumption; require that bonds be posted or sinking funds established to provide for repair, removal or replacement of package treatment plants reaching the end of their intended service life.


Riparian corridor protections need to be strengthened in the Biotic Resources element.


Riparian zones with healthy native vegetation must be protected and re-established within the county. All perennial and intermittent streams must have adequate riparian corridors in which uses are restricted and native vegetation is encouraged.


Many good policies in draft GP2020 are weakened by weasel words.


1. Remove most phrases such as ‘where practical’ and ‘to the maximum extent practicable’.

2. Include more affirmative time-delimited language in critical policies.