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Water conservation along the Santa Ynez River took a significant step in January 2022 when three agencies unanimously approved groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). These plans will be the basis for groundwater management in the area through a 20-year implementation period.

In 2014, the state Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) created a framework to help conserve groundwater throughout California. Poor management of groundwater resources can increase pumping costs, dry water wells, degrade water quality, and deplete connected surface water. SGMA requires local agencies to form groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and implement GSPs to manage groundwater sustainably over the long term. Public agencies in the Santa Ynez Basin formed three GSAs (Eastern, Western, and Central) that cover the area from Lake Cachuma to the Pacific Ocean. These GSAs have been working since 2015 to prepare GSPs that describe the area’s geology, how much water is in the basin, how it moves through the basin, and how it is used. The GSPs also identify projects and management actions the GSAs will undertake to ensure the basin is managed sustainably.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said, “I am so pleased that the years of hard work put in by the public agencies, groundwater experts, and members of the public involved in the SGMA process have resulted in three Groundwater Sustainability Plans being completed and submitted to the Department of Water Resources.  The next step will be implementing the measures determined in the plans to be appropriate for groundwater management within the Santa Ynez River Basin, so we can ensure continued sustainable groundwater use for all water users.”

Santa Barbara County Water Agency Manager Matt Young said, “Eight public agencies and many stakeholders have put in years of hard work to put together these plans. We want to be good stewards of our vital groundwater resources, and these plans help us do that.

For more information on the Santa Ynez River Basin GSPs, visit


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