Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

In 2014, the state of California adopted The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 ("the Act" or “SGMA”). While the Act is a complex piece of legislation, its primary goals are:

  • To ensure that the significant groundwater basins in California (those designated as high and medium priority by the Department of Water Resources) are “sustainably managed,”
  • To provide local groundwater agencies with the authority and the technical and financial assistance necessary to sustainably manage groundwater.


To achieve its stated goal of sustainability, the Act requires that Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”) be in place in each significant basin by June 30, 2017. The GSAs are then required to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (“GSPs”) by January 31, 2022. There are three medium priority basins in Sonoma County: the Petaluma Basin, the Santa Rosa Plain Basin and the Sonoma Valley Basin.

Why is Sonoma the RCD involved?

Sonoma RCD is a GSA eligible entity that has been involved in the formation of the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies since April of 2016. The RCD is not required to be involved in the local GSAs and it is a decision and investment in time and money that we have taken very seriously. The RCD is a non-regulatory local district that works closely with rural and agricultural landowners, urban residents, schools, resource agencies, and others on a variety of voluntary conservation programs. We are very proud of the trusted relationships we have with our district’s landowners that we have fostered over the last 70 years.

We chose to be involved for two key reasons:

1) We believe that our work over the last 70 years working closely with hundreds, if not thousands, of groundwater users gives us an understanding of their issues and concerns. We can be a voice for those concerns on the governing board of each GSA.
2) The RCD has been involved in the Basin Advisory Panels and Technical Advisory Committees in the Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain basins since 2006 and 2011. We believe that we are part of the solution to effective groundwater management. We are focused on working with local landowners, using a science-based approach, and advocating for voluntary approaches to key aspects of the implementation of future Groundwater Sustainability Plans. Our experience in implementing on-the ground conservation projects, monitoring groundwater levels, and working with local communities aligns us to help implement future solutions to potential groundwater issues. The RCD can effectively bridge environmental concerns with the pragmatic needs of groundwater users.

We know there is concern in the community about the formation of the GSAs and many of the unknowns. We are pleased with the work we have done with other GSA eligible entities over the last year, but we have also heard loud and clear the concerns and unknowns of future potential regulations and fees. We encourage you to get involved in future groundwater sustainability agencies by attending a future board meeting. We will continue to listen to community concerns at the RCD, and work to represent your vital interests. For more information on upcoming GSA meetings and additional information go to:


Apply to the Sonoma RCD for Appointment to the Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain, or Sonoma Valley GSA Advisory Committees: Applications due August 4, 2017
The Sonoma RCD is a Member Agency in all three of the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies that have recently formed in Sonoma County (Petaluma Valley, Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley). As a Member Agency, the RCD will appoint one member to the Advisory Committee for each GSA. The RCD is seeking applications from stakeholders within each groundwater basin who are interested in serving on the Committee. For more information, and to apply, please click on the link for your basin:
Petaluma Valley
Santa Rosa Plain
Sonoma Valley

Apply for GSA Advisory Committee Interest-Based Seats
Each basin also has a number of “interest-based” seats that will be appointed by the GSA Board. Stakeholders can learn more and apply directly to the GSA for these seats by clicking here.


Additional Resources:
Are You In An Affected Groundwater Basin?
There is a tool on the California Department of Water Resources website that can help you determine the basin where your property is located. Go to

For resources on conditions of groundwater in your basins go to:

Santa Rosa Plain:
Sonoma Valley:

Groundwater Basin Maps

The three basins immediately affected by SGMA are below. Clicking each link will provide a detailed map of the groundwater basin:
Santa Rosa Plain/Santa Rosa Valley:
Petaluma Valley:
Sonoma Valley: