SLO groundwater agencies awarded $5.9 million in grants



Groundwater management is about to get a lot easier on local taxpayers' pockets, as the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) tentatively awarded a combined $5.9 million in grants to San Luis Obispo County water agencies.

The grants will help curb costs for the many local agencies working to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a 2014 state law that requires "sustainability plans" be written for five local basins. The plans, which must be complete by 2020, involve expenses for consultant services and scientific studies, among other costs.

"What it does is really help offset the cost of developing the plan," said Courtney Howard, a SLO County Water Resources division manager.

According to a draft of the DWR grant allocations, $2.2 million in grant funds will go to aid the Cuyama water basin; $1.5 million will go to the Paso Robles basin; $1.4 million combined is allocated to the Santa Maria Valley and San Luis Valley basins; and $800,000 will go to the Atascadero basin.

The funding impacts numerous SLO County agencies working together to craft each basin's plan. For the Paso Robles basin, those include the county, city of Paso Robles, San Miguel CSD, the Shandon-San Juan Water District, and the Heritage Ranch CSD. The $1.5 million from the state will offset the costs incurred by all of those participating agencies.

Grants are expected to cut the costs of SGMA in half for all of the localities, with the exception of the Cuyama Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, which received enough funding from DWR to cover all of its expected costs for a sustainability plan. Δ

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