This annual report of conditions in the Santa Maria Valley Management Area, for calendar year 2016, has been prepared to meet the reporting conditions of the June 30, 2005, Stipulation entered by the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara, in the Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin litigation. The Stipulation divided the overall Santa Maria Valley Groundwater Basin into three management areas, the largest of which overlies the main Santa Maria Valley (the Santa Maria Valley Management Area, or SMVMA) and is the subject of this report. The other two management areas, the Nipomo Mesa Management Area (NMMA) and the Northern Cities Management Area, are addressed in separate annual reports prepared by others.
The Stipulation, approved and implemented in 2008, specifies that monitoring shall be sufficient to determine groundwater conditions, land and water uses, sources of water supply, and the disposition of all water supplies in the Basin. Annual Reports for the SMVMA are to summarize the results of the monitoring and include an analysis of the relationship between projected water demand and supply. The Stipulation was preserved in the California Court of Appeal (Sixth Appellate District) Decision of November 21, 2012, and in the Superior Court of the State of California (County of Santa Clara) Final Judgment of April 23, 2014. Thus, the Physical Solution criteria for monitoring and managing groundwater in the basin remain.
In accordance with the Stipulation, this report on the SMVMA provides a description of the physical setting and briefly describes previous studies conducted in the groundwater basin, including the long-term monitoring program developed for the SMVMA. As reported herein, the Twitchell Management Authority (TMA) commissioned the preparation of a monitoring program for the SMVMA in 2008, and its complete implementation is expected to provide the data with which to fully assess future conditions. This report describes hydrogeologic conditions in the management area historically and through 2016, including groundwater conditions, Twitchell Reservoir operations, and hydrologic and climatic conditions. As with all previous annual reports (commencing in 2008), the water requirements and supplies for agricultural and municipal uses are accounted, as are the components of water disposition in the SMVMA.
Conclusions drawn regarding water resource conditions are discussed, including any finding of severe water shortage, which is concluded to not be the case through 2016. Finally, recommendations are provided with regard to the intra-basin transfer of water from the SMVMA to the NMMA, possible enhancement of groundwater recharge, expanded assessment of water resource conditions, and continued implementation of the monitoring program for the SMVMA.
Janny Choi from Stanford University’s Water in the West discusses the Santa Maria stipulation in the 2014 paper Before the Well Runs Dry: Improving the Linkage Between Groundwater and Land Use Planning.