LandSmart Water Resources® provides landowners and managers with tools to achieve their water management and conservation goals. Through this program the RCD assists landowners in assessing their water resources and needs and developing conservation projects that provide multiple benefits to their operations and their natural resources.

Water Resources Programming includes:

  • Water management and conservation technical assistance
  • Vineyard irrigation system evaluations
  • Alternative water supply development
  • Groundwater well monitoring

Sonoma RCD provided me with the support and resources to successfully complete several small and large vineyard irrigation efficiency assessments. Improvements from these assessments reduced our expenses significantly. It is a pleasure working with their knowledgeable and professional staff.

Richard Howell

Howell Vineyard Services

The RCD provides technical field visits to landowners interested in developing alternative water supply and storage. Projects range from off stream storage ponds to small rainwater catchment systems. Incorporated into the mission of the RCDs’ LandSmart water resources and reliability program are the goals of increasing the amount of water flowing in our streams during the summer dry season and assisting landowners in developing more secure and reliable water supplies, especially important in years of drought. Utilizing stored water resources instead of creek water during the summer dry season means less water drawn from the creeks, allowing wildlife access to freshwater when they need it most. Additionally, with fire preparedness on the minds of many and all of these watersheds also being highly susceptible to wildfires, rainwater catchment tanks will provide firefighters with water for emergency use in these communities.

The RCD also has educational resources available for these types of projects including the Slow it. Spread it. Sink it. Store it! guide and an informational brochure on rainwater catchment systems. See our Resources page to download your copy!

We have a more reliable water system and we’ve reduced our impact on summer water levels in Mill Creek.

Jean Zbinden

Rural Landowner

Vineyard irrigation system evaluations are provided to grape growers throughout the Russian River, Sonoma Creek and Petaluma Watersheds. RCD staff coordinates with interested landowners to assess the efficiency of the current irrigation system installed. This includes measuring distribution uniformity, pressures, and drip and micro-spray flow rates. The evaluation also investigates drainage, spacing, and plugging.

The field evaluations take 4-6 hours. Following the field visit, RCD staff will provide a written report that summarizes the field test results and provides recommendations to improve your system. Staff will also be available to discuss potential cost share programs, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which can offset costs for growers interested in implementing recommended changes to irrigation systems.

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:


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. You can see an overview of all three here. Click to see a detailed map of the groundwater basin:
Santa Rosa Plain/Santa Rosa Valley: View & Download PDF
Petaluma Valley: View & Download PDF 
Sonoma Valley: View & Download PDF