Natural Resource Commission considers water sustainability plan

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The Winters Natural Resource Commission met on Oct. 18 to consider the latest updates to Yolo County Flood Control and Water Management District’s sustainability plan and discussed the possibility of a future vision plan for the commission.

Kristin Sicke, General Manager of the YCFC & WMD, presented the latest updates on 2017’s Yolo Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The district covers 200,000 acres on the western edge of Yolo County from Woodland to Winters and supplies water to 20 percent of Yolo County’s farmers.

Among her focuses was drought conditions which currently affect 100 percent of Yolo County. The National Irrigated Drought Information System ranks Yolo County at the most severe level of drought, D4, characterized by a costly fire season and low agricultural yields among other conditions.

The report compared water level in wells and groundwater to historical drought periods in 1977 and 2012. According to Sicke’s report, 12 percent of wells were at or below their level during the 1977 drought, but she still sees cause for hope.

Despite the severe drought, YCFC & WMD readings found some recovery of groundwater in September. Now as the harvest season wraps up, Sicke said the recovery has continued as groundwater pumping decreases.

”We’re going to take measurements again in the middle of October and we hope to continue to see that recovery,” said Sicke.

In order to address the drought, YCFC & WMD prioritizes avoiding six negative outcomes identified by the state’s Department of Water Resources.

“We want to avoid the chronic lowering of groundwater levels. Among these outcomes are chronic lowering of groundwater levels, degraded moderate quality land subsidence, depletions of interconnected surface water, and sea water intrusion,” Sicke said.

The agency is now focusing on projects to recharge existing groundwater storage wells rather than developing new reservoirs.

“We want to keep our water levels at the match, a measurable objective in the long term,” Sicke said.

In addition, the department is developing an ad hoc contingency planning committee to address local drought conditions in conjunction with groundwater recharge projects.

In addition, the agency plans to add a monitoring site near the city of Winters to fill in gaps.

Goal setting
As a new commission, the group also discussed how they might approach a planning and goal-setting process. City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa said she hopes that identifying clear objectives will encourage “collaboration and connection with the City Council” in accordance with the commission’s charter.

Trepa emphasized that regularly updating the City Council on their work will be critical for the commission to fulfill its role as an “advisory body.”

“Since you all are so new as the Natural Resources Commission, understandably, you may want a few meetings to sort of talk about where you think you want to go to the group,” said Trepa.

Commissioner Eric Larsen suggested that the commission’s mission statement might help reveal the goals

The commission will focus on their goal setting process at their next meeting on Nov. 15.

Other business
Commissioner Alli Perman gave a summary of past and upcoming events held by the Putah Creek Council in October. The council will host a tree planting day at Sackett Ranch on Oct. 27, a canoe tour at Lake Solano on Nov. 14, and tree planting at Lake Solano Park on Nov. 20.

Rich Marovich, of the Solano County Water Agency, gave an update on environmental restoration projects in Winters parks. In particular, he suggested planting oak trees and spreading wood chips on the North Bank trail at Winters Spring Creek park. Cal Recycle offered the city 500 truckloads of wood chips which could make for a source for the project.

Commissioner Eric Jepsen brought the suggestion that the use of grazing animals be considered as a future agenda item.

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