GALT - In a shift in policy direction, the city of Galt may soon become a player in Sacramento-area water issues.
Mayor Darryl Clare announced at a special forum on water Tuesday that he will ask the City Council to resume membership in an organization called the Sacramento Water Forum, a coalition of water purveyors, cities, counties, developers and environmental interests.
While Galt is in generally good shape regarding its water supply in quality, the city and surrounding rural areas must be vigilant to make sure it stays that way, said city, county and regional water experts at Tuesday's community forum in the Anthony Pescetti Community Room at the Galt police station.
"If you're not at the table, you will be on the menu," Clare told about 20 people who showed up to the forum.
Speakers included Doug Gault, the city of Galt's public works director; Herb Niederberger, chief of Sacramento County's Division of Water Resources; Jim McCormack, a consultant for the Sacramento Water Forum; and Gerald Schwartz, Central Valley liaison for the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
"I believe that regional planning is absolutely essential," Clare said.
The Water Forum agreement, signed in 2000 by 40 cities, counties, developers, water purveyors and environmentalists, covered ways to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region to 2030, and to preserve fish, wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values for the American River.
While the city participated in earlier discussions, Galt is not a partner in the agreement. The City Council voted in 1999 to terminate its participation in the Water Forum after the forum requested $8,800 for the 1999-2000 fiscal year to continue its membership.
The late Mayor Tony Gora said at the time the city shouldn't spend that kind of money when he didn't see a real benefit to Galt.
McCormack added that rejoining the Water Forum could enable Galt to gain support from the county and neighboring communities for state and federal water grants.
Rural areas outside Galt have formed a joint-powers authority to explore ways to replenish the groundwater basin. The Galt Irrigation District, which serves unincorporated areas north, east and west of Galt, has joined neighboring Clay and Omochumne-Hartnell water districts to maintain its well water.
Called the Southeast Sacramento County Agricultural Water Authority, the three districts may be in line for a $1.2 million grant to conduct an 18-month study on the feasibility of removing some small dams on the Cosumnes River so that river water could flow onto adjacent land, said Larry Rodriguez, an Elk Grove consultant hired by the three districts.
Water spread onto land near the Cosumnes would then seep underground and help replenish the water table, Rodriguez said.