San Ysidro Creek.
San Ysidro Creek flows near the Montecito Water District office. The district’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency on Friday adopted a Groundwater Sustainability Plan that now goes to the state. Credit: Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo

The Montecito Water District’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency unanimously adopted its Groundwater Sustainability Plan on Friday that it will now submit to the California Department of Water Resources.

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan is a long-term management plan for the groundwater basin, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. According to a staff presentation, Montecito’s GSA has been developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan since 2020.

“Groundwater is an important local source of water that is heavily relied upon by our entire community, particularly during drought,” GSA board president Brian Goebel said in the foreword of the plan, which can be viewed in full here. “To that end, our sustainability goal is to prevent undesirable results and optimize long-term use of the groundwater basin for the benefit of all stakeholders.

“This will be achieved through a collaborative, knowledge-based process informed by locally defined quantitative criteria, ongoing monitoring and modeling, and incremental, data-supported management actions as needed to prevent seawater intrusion and ensure sustainable groundwater levels, storage, and quality.”

Goebel added that the groundwater basin is not currently experiencing undesirable results, but the GSA has found areas where additional information would be beneficial.

He also said the plan includes projects and management actions aimed at filling data gaps over the next five years, and that the GSA will continue to pursue grant funding.

Staff said that implementation for the Groundwater Sustainability Plan involves continued monitoring of groundwater levels and quality, as well as initiating baseline projects and management actions such as expanding groundwater monitoring and enhancing the groundwater well database. Once grant awards have been confirmed, other baseline projects include expanding seawater intrusion monitoring and evaluating groundwater-surface water interaction.

The Groundwater Sustainability Agency also will be required to send annual reports to the California Department of Water Resources, with the first due April 2024.