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Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells 


Paso Robles groundwater basin boundaries.

–The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District (EPCWD) has begun creating a groundwater level monitoring network. Initially, the district has begun work to add 30 new groundwater level monitoring sites, using existing wells, throughout the 37,000-acre district.

The campaign marks a significant effort in the basin to move toward groundwater sustainability in the Paso Robles Subbasin, according to the EPCWD.

The Paso Robles Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), as submitted to the state, includes only 22 Representative Monitoring Site (RMS) wells. For such a large subbasin, 22 monitoring wells are widely considered inadequate. Moreover, many of the monitoring wells are old or ill-placed. For instance, four of the 22 RMS wells in the Paso Robles Subbasin are currently located at the abandoned El Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility.

For scale on the void of official RMS wells in the Paso Robles Subbasin, the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin has 104 RMS wells, and the Atascadero Basin – which is less than 5-percent the size of the Paso Robles Subbasin – has 26 RMS wells.

The new EPCWD monitoring wells are key to future efforts to become sustainable and will help comply with the State’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Managed by California Department of Water Resources (DWR), SGMA mandates all of California’s critical groundwater basins be sustainable by 2040. The Paso Robles Subbasin, which includes the EPCWD, is deemed “critically” overdrafted, the highest level of severity.

“These wells will provide a more accurate picture of current water levels,” says Jerry Reaugh, EPCWD Board member. “These monitoring wells will be among the most important quantitative measurements used by DWR to determine the ongoing health of the Subbasin. So, as we move toward compliance with SGMA, these wells are going to prove essential.”

Additionally, the EPCWD is aware that many of its members have wells being monitored by San Luis Obispo County and could be included as RMS wells in the GSP. The EPCWD will be working with its landowners, the county, and its fellow water agencies to achieve the necessary approvals to have these wells included in the GSP.

The EPCWD has partnered with GSI Water Solutions Inc., and Wayne Cooper Ag Services, LLC. The monitoring process has begun taking its first set of measurements on monitoring 30 new wells in April. The new well monitoring network is fully funded by the EPCWD.

“Everyone knows how important it is that we achieve groundwater sustainability, not just to comply with the state, but for the future health of our region,” says EPCWD Board President Dana Merrill. “This is a giant first step toward achieving that balance.”

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at