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Groundwater regulation up for discussion at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors

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Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday are set to establish a framework for developing the local public entities that will oversee implementation of California’s landmark laws regulating groundwater.

The new laws, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year amid the state’s historic drought, could lead to limits on pumping and drilling in depleted underground basins. In Sonoma County, they require the formation of so-called “sustainability agencies” to regulate activity in three basins — which contain most of the county’s underground water supply — by June 30, 2017.

The Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley basins have been singled out by the state as areas at risk of being depleted.

Supervisors as well as city officials and Sonoma County Water Agency representatives are considering who should lead oversight of groundwater management. The public hearing Tuesday morning could produce the first set of recommendations on a local structure.

City and county officials have voiced preliminary support for creation of three separate agencies — one per groundwater basin. They would have the power to limit pumping, restrict new drilling and impose fees and fines on residents and agricultural operations for their water use.

You can reach Staff Writer Angela Hart at 526-8503 or angela.hart@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ahartreports.

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