From the Sonoma County Water Agency:

On Jan. 12 the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency took an important step forward on a project to address groundwater issues in the Santa Rosa Plain.

A work plan unanimously approved by the board allows SCWA, in collaboration with stakeholders, to begin preliminary planning and education on groundwater management in the Santa Rosa Plain. The board's action is the continuation of a process that began in 2005 when a study of the groundwater basin was initiated. The study, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, will be complete in December 2010 and published in the early 2011.

A stakeholder assessment conducted by the nonprofit Center for Collaborative Policy (a program of California State University, Sacramento), found people would benefit from a better technical understanding of groundwater issues and have misperceptions of groundwater management and planning. The Center conducted in-depth interviews of 55 stakeholders representing 37 organizations.

A key component of the work plan is the creation and convening of a Santa Rosa Groundwater Plain Basin Steering Committee comprised of eight to 10 key stakeholders. The steering committee will guide education activities on technical issues, conduct outreach, provide input to the USGS on modeling scenarios and recommend a groundwater planning framework. The steering committee will be facilitated by the Center for Collaborative Policy.

The USGS groundwater study is being funded by the Sonoma County Water Agency, the County of Sonoma, the cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Sebastopol, the town of Windsor and Cal American Water Company.

The stakeholder assessment and workplan can be found at www.sonomacountywater.org/srgroundwater/.