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Lathrop seeks to switch basins for groundwater rules
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In addition to showing just how much California is lacking in long-term water storage, the most recent California drought also exposed how dependent cities across the state are on groundwater to keep the taps flowing. 

And Lathrop is working to make sure that the next time California goes through an extended dry period, those taps never run dry. 

Tonight, during a special session of the Lathrop City Council, the city will request approval for a $50,000 contract with EKI Environment and Water Inc. to provide technical support services for a basin boundary modification that would move Lathrop out of the critically overdrawn basin shared with Stockton and into a much more plentiful – and regulation-friendly – basin near Tracy. 

If approved, the move will be one step closer to a finding of compliance by the California Department of Water Resources and long-term cost reductions associated with maintaining compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – the legislative effort that seeks to preserve critical groundwater reserves in the wake of the most recent drought. 

According to the staff report, the proposal to the council is simply to approve an authorization already made by Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore to allow EKI to perform the necessary preparations – an authorization that was necessary after the cancellation of the Lathrop City Council meeting last week. 

And if the state signs off on Lathrop’s work, it could pay sweeping dividends.

“As part of the SGMA, DWR has established a process for local agencies to revise boundaries of groundwater basins or subbasins that would allow the city to consolidate fully into the Tracy Subbasin,” the city’s report reads. “This is a one-time opportunity that would be beneficial to reduce the costs of the city’s SGMA compliance efforts.”

The window for submitting those requests opened at the start of 2018, and will remain open through June. 

Lathrop currently overlies two subbains of the San Joaquin Valley basin – the Tracy subbasin, which they’re trying to move exclusively into, and the Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin, which DWR has identified as high-priority and critically overdrafted. Tracy, on the other hand, is a medium-priority basin where SGMA compliance, the city feels, would be more straightforward and much more easily achievable. 

The $50,000 cost of the contract will be funded from money already allocated to achieving compliance with the SGMA.  

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.