Santa Monica City Hall (File photo)

A proposed law to ban new private wells in Santa Monica will go before the City Council Tuesday as part of a statewide attempt to better regulate groundwater. The ordinance aims to protect local aquifers from overdraft, pollution and contamination.

At this time, there is only one private residential well in Santa Monica, according to a recent staff report. Once a private well is permitted at the county level, there is no monitoring or reporting of water usage from the well or limitation on the amount of water extracted.

Throughout the state, unregulated water wells have lead to the overdraft of aquifers and the pollution of public drinking water. In Santa Monica, most of the drinking water comes from the Santa Monica Basin, which stretches 50-square-miles under the city, West Los Angeles, Culver City and part of Beverly Hills. Rain and runoff from the Santa Monica Mountains supply the basin.

Those cities and Los Angeles County have formed a Local Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to enforce state law within the borders. The GSA has until January 2022 to complete a sustainability plan for the basin.

The ordinance would not hurt the city’s plans to achieve water self-sufficiency, according to the report. Staff will update the council on the plan to achieve that goal Sept. 25.

The local efforts are in accordance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which provides greater oversight over groundwater and required local agencies to develop management plans. Layers of aquifers make up nearly 40 percent of California’s total water supply. In dry years, they contribute even more. Governor Jerry Brown signed the SGMPA into law in 2014 to halt overdraft, which has been particularly problematic in the Central Valley, according to state reports.

The City Council will meet Thursday, Aug. 14 inside City Hall Council Chambers at 1685 Main Street, room 213. Public items will be heard no earlier than 6:30 p.m.

Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press