Comments from rural well homeowner on Sebastopol GSA hearing

Hearing on GSA: notes from attendee

For those of you who could not attend this important meeting on Sebastopol joining the GSA basin panel. Fees for well owners is part of this conversation. There still seems to be alot of confusion. 

Homeowner: For starters, the Wilson Grove had initially been characterized as Low Priority by the DWR (Dept. of Water Resources). Sebastopol City leaders thought this was great. It meant they could be considered in the Wilson Grove Basin, and since it was low priority, no GSA would need to be formed for it. Plentiful groundwater, no over-drafting, plenty of recharge.

The DRW did re-assessments. Both basins had their priority raised by 2 notches. Wilson Grove raised to Medium, and Santa Rosa to high.
Henry spoke with DWR extensively. No satisfactory reason for the bump up in priority, by 2 notches, very significant, was given.

So now Sebastopol is faced with paying $119,000. to join the Santa Rosa GSA, or possibly contribute to creating a new GSA for Wilson Grove.
They have requested bringing a state official, from DWR I believe, to discuss the issue and possibly negotiate Wilson Grove priority being reduced to low so they can stay with Wilson Grove and spend nothing as far as GSA fees.
Henry tried to get the DWR officials to explain how their software works and how it could possibly bump the priority by 2 notches when none of the data had changed! I think Henry said the official admitted their software functions like “sorcery” or something like that. I do think “sorcery” was the word he used, but you may need to confirm that with Henry.
So it seemed like the Sebastopol city council members felt they were being victimized, and didn’t like the situation, and didn’t feel like spending $119,000 was necessarily the right thing to be doing.
One of the reasons DWR gave for boosting the priority was the well water has minerals in it. This is true, but is a nonsense reason for boosting the priority. Minerals have always been there and are not harmful. Basin priority should be set based on proven groundwater depletion, overdraft, proof of using more than is being recharged.
I do not think that the city council balking at this, delaying, and seeking more information at this time is unreasonable.
I’m just sending you these comments because I was there, and these are my impression of what transpired. They particularly didn’t like the idea that Wilson Grove went from low to medium based on “sorcery.”