Water Resources Management Program

The Water Resources Divsion (WR Division) of  the Public Works Department provides technical and administrative support for several water resources stakeholder-driven programs in which the County is an active participant or serves in a lead capacity.  The WR Division provides the primary support staff to the Flood Control  Water Conservation District's Advisory Water Commission; to the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority (ESJGWA); to the Tracy Subbasin Coordinating Committee; and to the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) Greater San Joaquin County Regional Water Coordinating Committee,  In addition,  the WR Division works to protect water rights applications on the Mokelumne and American Rivers. 

Water Investigation Zone No. 2 (Zone 2)

In 1989, the Board established Zone 2 to provide a revenue source for water resources planning activities.  The Zone 2 funding mechanism is a Countywide property-related fee.  The only allowable use of the fee is to carry out the goals and objectives set forth in the 2015 Strategic Plan to Meet Water Needs, which include the following:

•          Protect and preserve existing water rights and area of origin rights.

•          Manage groundwater in Eastern San Joaquin County.

•          Protect Delta water resources common pool.

•          Maintain existing, and develop new, water supplies to meet Southwest County water needs.

•          Develop funding programs to meet water supply needs.

•          Support water conservation programs.

The budget for Zone 2 includes costs for maintaining and developing monitoring networks for groundwater levels and water quality, coordination and planning efforts necessary to meet the statutory requirements of SGMA; Demonstration Recharge, Extraction and Aquifer Management (DREAM) project County export permit compliance; securing grant funding for projects identified in the updated 2020 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan Addendum; and for watershed education and outreach activities.  The details of these programmed costs are explained below.

Other activities during 2022-2023 include implementation of data management systems and monitoring network enhancements for the groundwater program.  Work will entail development of a digital groundwater-monitoring inventory, along with modernization of data collection, storage, retrieval and reporting processes.  Work will also include strategic visioning and financial planning for the sustainability of Zone 2 programs.  The 2022-2023 Zone 2 budget reflects appropriations of $350,000 for staff and consultant costs associated with these efforts.

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

SGMA establishes a State-mandated framework for sustainable groundwater management by local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs).  The two groundwater subbasins in the County are subject to SGMA: the Eastern San Joaquin (ESJ) Subbasin, designated as critically overdrafted and a 'high priority' by DWR and the Tracy Subbasin, designated as ‘medium priority’. 

Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin

There are 16 GSAs within the Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin, which formed the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority (ESJGWA), a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), in 2017.  Water Resources administers the ESJGWA on behalf of the member agencies, including procurement and administration of grants from DWR to implement the ESJ Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The ESJGWA Board adopted and submitted the ESJ GSP to DWR on January 31, 2020.

During 2022-2023, staff will continue efforts to implement the ESJ GSP, which includes conducting groundwater monitoring and reporting efforts and supporting implementation of projects that will develop approximately 80,000 acre feet of surface water supply by 2040.  Learn more about the ESJGWA activities by clicking here. 

Tracy Subbasin

The Tracy Subbasin covers western San Joaquin County and a small portion of Alameda County.  Water Resources coordinated development of the GSP, including additional outreach to disadvantaged communities.  The GSAs within the Tracy Subbasin were awarded a $450,000 grant from DWR to develop a GSP and the Board of Supervisors approved a $150,000 allocation from Zone 2 for the required local match (R-19-99).  The Tracy Subbasin Coordinating Committee and Board of Supervisors adopted and submitted the Tracy GSP on January 11, 2022 (R-22-13).   Work program activities in 2022-2023 will entail GSP implementation and a grant application for the Round 2 Sustainable Groundwater Management Implementation program.  Learn more about the Tracy Subbasin by clicking here. 

Demonstration Recharge, Extraction and Aquifer Management (DREAM) Project

The purpose of the DREAM Project is to develop a successful pilot scale groundwater storage project in eastern San Joaquin County.  The Project allows the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), under permit from the County, to temporarily store Mokelumne River water in the underground basin and recover up to half of the banked water in the future.  This will provide supplemental dry-year supply for EBMUD as well as additional water for the local groundwater users while also reducing overdraft. Surface water diversions for the project were initiated in late 2018, continued in 2019, but did not occur in 2020 or 2021 due to drought conditions.  Groundwater extraction of the stored water consistent with the permit will occur in fall 2022. 

The WR Division coordinates a Monitoring Committee and oversees monitoring of wells prior to and during recharge and extraction.  Costs for these activities are reimbursed by the project fund established by an agreement with North San Joaquin Water Conservation District and EBMUD.  Learn more about the DREAM Project by clicking here. 

 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM)

Countywide water management efforts require integration across multiple jurisdictions to address issues and implement water management solutions on a regional scale.  IRWM is a DWR-supported planning program, including grant funding for communities for identification and implementation of integrated, multi-benefit regional projects.  The Zone 2 budget reflects an allocation of $200,000 for staff and consultant costs related to implementing the IRWM Plan (IRWMP), expanding coverage to the Tracy Subbasin, and filing for and administering the IRWM Implementation funding.

In 2019, the WR Division led the effort to create the Greater San Joaquin County Regional Water Coordinating Committee (Committee) comprised of 11 member agencies.  The goal of the Committee was to update the 2014 IRWMP to meet new State requirements and qualify the area for State bond funds for capital projects.  In 2020, the Coordinating Committee updated and adopted the 2020 IRWMP Addendum which qualified the area for procuring project bond funding and grants.   Any agency whose projects are within the IRWM Addendum, and adopts the Addendum, will be eligible for funding under the State’s IRWM program. The Board of Supervisors adopted the IRWM Addendum on March 9, 2021 (B-21-154).

The WR Division successfully secured $348,000 in funding under the IRWM DAC Involvement Program.  The DAC Program is designed to ensure the engagement of DACs including underrepresented communities or economically distressed areas in IRWM planning efforts.  Outreach in the DAC communities has been completed and remaining work entails implementation of projects within the disadvantaged communities of Thornton Community Service Area (CSA) 12, and Rancho San Joaquin Maintenance Districts. Water Resources has successfully negotiated $5.6 million of Proposition 1 Round 2 grant funding for IRWM project implementation and $900,000 specifically for DAC projects.   The Zone 2 budget reflects staff and consultant costs related to grant administration and coordination necessary to implement the multi-agency projects.  Learn more about the IRWM Program by clicking here.

Watershed Education and Outreach Activities

Since the last drought, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) made several water conservation measures mandatory.  The San Joaquin County Special District budgets for Zone 2 and CSA 54 include combined appropriations of $80,000 to support watershed-based education efforts that increase awareness of water supply, flooding and storm water quality issues. Water Resources will continue to cultivate partnerships with community stakeholders, local schools, and volunteer groups to engage in education and outreach activities.  Zone 2 appropriations fund costs for advertising, and digital and social media as forums for connecting with a wide range of members of the community.

American River and Mokelumne River Water Rights Applications

The County’s American River Water Rights application is being reviewed by the SWRCB and is in jeopardy of being cancelled.  It is anticipated that the County will incur costs to coordinate with local interests on projects to apply for water rights; to continue defending the water rights application; and to participate in the SWRCB hearings.   These costs are reflected in the Zone 2 budget.

The Mokelumne River Water & Power Authority (MRWPA) is a JPA consisting of the San Joaquin County Flood Control & Water Conservation District and the County. The 2022-2023 MRWPA budget reflects appropriations of $450,200, which will be funded by the Groundwater Banking Authority remaining fund balance and Zone 2, for legal and consulting costs related to supporting the processing of the County’s water rights application for the Mokelumne River.  Costs to support defense of the application and coordinating efforts to develop projects to put this water to beneficial use are also anticipated.  The County and local interests must demonstrate due diligence in planning and environmental review of projects making use of the water such as a conjunctive use program that addresses critical overdraft.