The Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency is actively seeking well owners for a grant-funded well metering program that is voluntary and free to participants.
Residences, commercial institutions, agricultural operations and the community at large depend on groundwater, said Nick Kunstek, a groundwater specialist for the Montecito GSA.
“Public wells supplying the Montecito Water District and many private wells draw from the Montecito Groundwater Basin,” Kunstek said via email. “The water derived from these wells is vital to the health, well-being and vibrancy of our community, particularly during periods of drought.”
The purpose of the project is to obtain a sample data set of private well groundwater extractions in the Montecito Groundwater Basin, according to Kunstek.
“These data will be used to inform the Montecito GSA’s groundwater sustainability plan and basin numerical model, both of which are currently under development,” Kunstek said Friday. “Montecito GSA has already enrolled private well owners from different sectors such as residential, agricultural, hospitality and community institutions.
“The more robust participation we have, the better we will understand dependency on the basin and the better we will be equipped to meet our goal of ensuring a sustainable ongoing groundwater supply for all basin users.”
The data obtained for the well metering program will remain confidential, Kunstek said.
To learn more or see if a well is eligible for the program, property owners whose parcels are located within the Montecito Groundwater Basin boundary are encouraged to call Kunstek at 805.324.4207.
An initial step in managing the area’s groundwater basin was gathering additional data about it, including the amount that private well owners pump out. The Groundwater Sustainability Agency took that early step of data collection in 2019.
There are at least six confirmed wells in the private well metering program and at least 20 additional private well owners identified to be contacted for the private well metering program as of April, according to a staff report prepared for the board of the GSA.
The GSA continued outreach efforts to private well owners within the basin for participation in the metering program, according to the staff report.
More than 1,000 total wells have been identified in the Montecito area, according to a database of groundwater well counts.
The well database “will be used to generate estimates of private well extraction volumes, storage capacity, yield and a basin water budget,” the staff report said.
The Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, which has the same members as the Montecito Water District board of directors, met on April 13 to discuss the private well metering pilot program. The GSA is tasked with a management plan for the Montecito basin.