Another local groundwater district has entered the game.

On Wednesday, the Woodbridge Irrigation district board of directors unanimously voted to form a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) after a public hearing was held approve the agency.

The agency formation is in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2014 to combat the ongoing drought. That act allows local agencies to develop strategies to manage their own groundwater.

The Woodbridge GSA would allow the irrigation district to gather groundwater data, monitor water usage, regulate wells, impose water usage fines, among other duties.

“The state has given a broad range of powers to a GSA,” said administrative assistant Doug Heberle, who presented the proposal to the board.

The next step is to draw a letter, resolution and official map and submit it to the California Department of Water Resources no later than 30 days after the hearing.

The Woodbridge Irrigation District (WID) extends to Kile and Peltier road to the north, Eight Mile Road to the south, just west of Lower Sacramento road and on its east border with Lodi and the Mokelumne River, and extends a bit past I-5 on its west end. The WID also holds annexed territory near Thornton and Morada.

This decision comes one week after the Lodi City Council voted to form a GSA for Lodi. While the proposed Woodbridge and Lodi GSAs would share a sizable border along Lodi’s western border, with a bit of overlap to the west of Lower Sacramento Road.

Lodi interim Public Works Director Charles Swimley has previously stated that Woodbridge will be committed to adjusting any shared boundaries as needed. Likewise, Heberle is confident that groundwater diplomacy would be relatively effortless.

“Negotiations will take place between the county and the other GSAs in the next few months,” Heberle said. “Ultimately, I see it as a straightforward process.”

At the meeting, there were questions about the status of many splotches of land within its borders not controlled by the WID. Those sections — including a large swath near the intersection of Davis and Harney — will be controlled by the San Joaquin County GSA. That would potentially make those small areas within the WID subject to different groundwater regulations than the surrounding land.

But the main focus for the Woodbridge district is to draw boundaries first, and hash out any problem areas later.

“This is a long process,” Heberle said.

Contact reporter Joe Benapfl at josephb@lodinews.com

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