County regulators unanimously approved a sustainability plan for the San Pasqual Valley Groundwater Basin.
The plan will ensure that the county is responsible for 10% of the costs of basin management within its jurisdiction.
The basin is located 25 miles northeast of downtown San Diego and is home to dairies, orchards, and nurseries.
Three creeks – Guejito, Santa Maria and Santa Ysabel – empty into the basin and converge to form the San Dieguito River which flows into the southwest Hodges Reservoir.
In addition to agriculture, the valley is known for its natural beauty, recreational use, and attractions such as the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
The county has jurisdiction over about 10% of the basin, while the city of San Diego has the remaining 90%.
The basin land portion of the county includes farms, the San Pasqual Academy, three residences, and several private undeveloped lots.
The objectives of the plan include management decisions about actual measured groundwater levels (rather than model results), and reaching out to users of residential wells about the importance of water quality testing.
Based on a suggestion from Supervisor Jim Desmond, the plan will also evaluate past water rights decisions. The county will have to consider its groundwater rights, along with those of any holder in the unincorporated region.
According to Sarah Aghassi, deputy chief of administration, the sustainability plan will “ensure that the groundwater supply of the San Pasqual Valley Basin will forever provide a reliable, quality source of water for residents and farms in the San Pasqual Valley.”
The plan also “supports social sustainability by protecting and preserving residents’ access to basic resources such as food by nurturing a thriving farming community and encouraging healthy living,” Aghassi added in a statement.
According to the province Bureau Land Use & EnvironmentIn order to comply with the state’s sustainable groundwater management law, the Board of Supervisors entered into an agreement with the City of San Diego in June 2017.
In December, the San Diego City Council approved a sustainability plan, stipulating that the city will be responsible for its portion of the basin.
Both governments had to approve sustainability plans in accordance with state law.
District staff developed a plan, as part of a joint city/province committee and peer review group, with input from stakeholders.
The advisory committee was made up of representatives from the San Pasqual Academy, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the San Diego Farm Bureau, and the Rancho Guejito Estate.
Before approving the plan, regulators have heard from those involved in the groundwater rights issue.
Hank Rupp, Rancho Guejito’s Chief Operations Officer, supported the sustainability plan and emphasized the ranch’s importance to the San Pasqual Valley.
On more than 20,000 acres, the ranch has a grass-fed ranch and winery, Rupp said.
He added that visiting the ranch is “like stepping back in time”, with an oak canopy that “would stretch all the way to Chicago”.
City News Service contributed to this article.