Residents could see a more than $15 increase over five years

While the city struggles with the final phase of a state ordered rezone for affordable housing, it's tackling the first phase of a possibly more complicated state ordered project based on the "Sustainable Groundwater Management Act." 

City Engineer Josh Rogers explained the new project at the April 4 city council meeting. 

"There are a lot of moving parts and the costs have not really been worked out yet," seemed to be the theme of the explanation. 

Even though the "costs have not really been worked out yet," Rogers showed the council a chart that indicated 

one of the options would raise the cost of water to Sanger residents by more that $15 over the first five years of the project. 

Part of the increased cost would be for the purchase of water from Consolidated Irrigation District and part would go toward servicing a debt incurred for building the infrastructure and other capital costs associated with getting the project ready to go. 

"The idea was to give the council and the attending public an overview of the situation and a ballpark of the potential financial impacts given what we know now," Rogers told the Herald.

"The final impacts and figures will come from the 'Groundwater Sustainability Plan' and any associated utility rate study that would follow.  Both of those processes will include public outreach and noticed public hearings," said Rogers.

Then governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA)

during one of California's drought years. 

Its intent is to create and implement plans to put as much water back into the ground as California residents take out in medium and high-priority groundwater basins identified by the Department of Water Resources.

Sanger is part of a groundwater sustainability agency that must adopt a groundwater sustainability plan by 2020. 

Once the plan is in place, Sanger and the other members of the agency will have 20 years, until 2040, to fully implement the plan and achieve the sustainability goal.

The State Water Resources Control Board could intervene if the agency fails to adopt and implement a groundwater sustainability plan. 

Unlike the way the city dealt with the state's affordable housing rezoning project and wound up having to play catch up, Rogers and the city are trying to get the jump on complying with SGMA goals.   

That probably means that about the time the public hearings for the state's rezoning project have been completed the public hearings for the state's groundwater sustainability project will begin. 

The reporter can be contacted by email at sangerherald@gmail.com or by phone at the Herald at (559) 875-2511.

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