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Oceanside establishes groundwater basin boundaries

OCEANSIDE — The city is taking first steps to gain local management of its groundwater supply by setting basin boundaries.

The city is marking boundaries of the Mission Sub-basin, which is the western end of the larger San Luis Rey Valley Basin.

Cari Dale, city water utilities director, said boundaries do not give the city authority to control the water, but do provide water security.

The city will also pursue becoming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the Mission Sub-basin, which lies within the city and part of Camp Pendleton.

Dale said guidelines for local management, spelled out in the state 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, are in response to state groundwater basins in the central valley being over pumped and not well maintained.

As part of the complex boundary modification process to mark the sub-basin, Oceanside complied necessary documentation, and met with other cities upstream.

Stakeholders generally gave their support. Some inquired if Oceanside’s goal is to manage the whole San Luis Rey Valley Basin, which it is not.

“The boundary modification request was a gigantic effort,” Dale said.

The City Council OK’d the boundary application be sent to the state Department of Water Resources in April to meet the state’s March 31 deadline.

“The basin is so critical,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said. “It’s important to get in front of this.”

“We have to do this,” Councilman Jerry Kern said.

Once boundaries are approved, the city Water Department will apply to becomes a GSA, and then develop a sustainability plan. Dale said conversations with process experts about next steps are ongoing.

“We’re taking it one step at a time, in bites we can handle,” Dale said.

Oceanside will continue to work with fellow stakeholders to maintain the health of the entire San Luis Rey Valley Basin.

The state deadline for water districts to become GSAs is June 2017.