Montecito GSA was proactive in applying for available State funding to support the required preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP):
- In spring 2020, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) awarded the Montecito GSA its total requested amount of $2,171,205 for the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program Planning Round 3. The local match is 25%, or $544,000.
- The approved grant will help cover the Agency’s cost to prepare the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (“GSP”) as well as implementation of various projects that will help to inform the GSP preparation process.
- Montecito GSA will continue to pursue available state grants and funding.
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Fees to Support the Long-term Sustainability of the Montecito Groundwater Basin
SGMA Phase 1 Funding
While Montecito GSA has secured grant funds, a local funding match is required as described above and there are additional costs. Developing and implementing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan will be a significant undertaking over the next several years. To support the state-mandated SGMA legislation, CALIFORNIA WATER CODE 10730 grants a groundwater sustainability agency the authority to impose fees to fund the costs of a groundwater sustainability program.
On June 24, 2020, Montecito GSA’s Board of Directors approved a property tax assessment, pursuant to a fee study and Proposition 218 public notification and adoption process. The Montecito GSA Groundwater Sustainability Fee is scheduled for five years and will appear on property tax bills beginning in fall 2020. This fee is based on parcel-size and is designed to equitably recover costs of the Agency while ensuring that the benefit received from sustainable management of the Montecito Groundwater Basin is proportional to the fees paid.
The adopted fees are for the purposes of funding the cost of developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan and other administrative costs related to Phase I of SGMA. Phase I includes the regulatorily required Groundwater Sustainability Plan development as well as agency operations, administration, professional services, and establishment of a prudent cash reserve.
Funding for Phase 2 - Groundwater Sustainability Plan Implementation – will be determined with equal rigor at a future date.
We All Benefit from Groundwater
The fee applies only to parcels overlying the Montecito Groundwater Basin and varies proportionally depending upon the size of the parcel. This fee approach acknowledges that sustainable management of the Montecito Groundwater Basin and availability of local groundwater as a water resource, when needed, benefits all property owners in the community.
Some parcels overlying the Basin directly benefit from private pumping, others receive direct and indirect benefits from groundwater as a source for Montecito Water District. For example, groundwater availability offsets the need to obtain water from other sources. Still others have Montecito Water District service and private wells to draw upon.
Individual charges are determined by multiplying the acreage overlying the Basin by the fee per acre. All properties benefit generally from the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and a sustainably managed Basin, therefore the amount charged to each payor is proportional to the benefit received through the Agency’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and sustainable management. Note that public agencies are excluded from the fee (for example: School Districts, Fire Protection Districts, Sanitary Districts, etc.).
The following tables illustrate sample fees for parcels of various sizes and customer classes.
|FY 2020/21||FY 2021/22||FY 2022/23||FY 2023/24||FY 2024/25|
|Fee per Acre per year (rounded)||$194||$194||$194||$120||$120|
|Fee per Acre per installment||$97||$97||$97||$60||$60|
|Fee per Acre per month||$16.17||$16.17||$16.17||$10||$10|
Funding Relationship between Montecito Water District & Montecito GSA
The Montecito GSA was founded as a single-agency GSA formed over a two-year process by Montecito Water District. Prior to establishment of the fee, the Agency has been staffed, managed, and funded by Montecito Water District. Sharing of staff and resources will continue, with staff and resources added as needed. The Agency will be responsible for their share of staff time, new dedicated staff, and for the reimbursement of Montecito Water District’s costs spent to date on Agency activities. While there is a great degree of shared staff, resources, and facilities, the Agency is an independent entity. (Agency Resolution No. 3). For additional information on cost sharing between Montecito Water District and Montecito GSA, please refer to the Fee Study or Resolution 3.