How do you feel about the severe drought? Is Santa Rosa ready when this thing hits or is it all media hype?

I was at a meeting at PRMD last week with the person in charge of leading the development of the Groundwater Agency for Sonoma County, which must be formed by 2017.

I was very much disappointed. The agency has to be formed by 2017 so that the state doesn't take over and not distribute funds. Five years later in 2022, the new agency must have a sustainability plan in place. Twenty years after that in 2042, we are supposed to be at full sustainability of our aquifers.

The agency has the powers to curtail pumping, regulate wells(PRMD already has this power, access fees, and basically redistribute water right.

During the meeting I posed the question, what if we find our selves in a 10-15 mega drought, somewhat similar to what Australia faced a few years ago. How soon will we curtail pumping of wells for vineyards? The speaker, a great politician and wonderful at dodging questions throughout the meeting, said that they would evaluate the shareholders of that specific basin and determine the best outcome, but that would be at the earliest in 2022. I followed up with the question, has the county/state set aside a legal fund for all of the inevitable court battles? He said no and that subject has not been broached. Other engineers in the room asked, how many people is too much? when do we say no more people, no more development, no more homes, no more new wells? The speaker said that may be an inevitability at some point in the future.

Truth is that PRMD can't regulate the wells. Well drillers can go out and drill drill drill without any oversight. There is barely any records on wells prior to 1970 so you can always say oh this is an old well (when its really new). The only time a well permit is somewhat required is for a new home. So for agriculture and existing homes, it's drill baby drill.

Drills are 1 year out right now. Weeks in Sebastopol just bought 2 more 1.5million dollar drill riggs. Only 5-10 years ago normal well was 250feet, now it's 450 minimum in most areas and for vineyards it's 600ft with a 12-18" casing, 6" is common for homes. Some of these vineyards are no joke pumping 20,000 gals/day and that's a small vineyard in comparison to many. Truth is the wine would be much more concentrated and better quality if they were dry farmed anyway lol, but more bottles more money. Eventually I see us having a lot of amazing vintages of wine and no water to cure the hangover.

Don't even get me started on grey water reuse and water recycling. Our state and county make me feel like we are in the midwest in terms of progressive policy change.

I could go on and on about this subject as it something I have done so much research on because I thought my career was going in this direction. If anyone wants to grab some cocktails at Starks for happy hour and talk about this subject I'm in.

/r/santarosa Thread