Kristin Pittack, SGMA Plan Manager (photo courtesy of Kristin Pittack)

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

As Groundwater Sustainability Agencies continue to implement various sustainability plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Kern County brought on a new SGMA Plan Manager to coordinate the Kern subbasin’s 19 GSAs.  

Born and raised in Kern County, Kristin Pittack’s interest in water policy and planning began at an early age—she recalls trips with her parents to lakes, rivers, and creeks to sail, kayak, and fish. She continued this path into adulthood and wrote her master’s thesis on SGMA before it was officially implemented.  

Pittack explored various careers in planning as the Kern County and City of Bakersfield planner before transitioning to water resources. 

“As the former City Water Resources Planner, my understanding of surface and groundwater in Kern County became not just a job but a personal passion,” Pittack said.  

The implementation process for the subbasin began in 2017 when the GSAs formed and submitted GSPs to the Department of Water Resources in 2020 for review. Pittack explained that on March 2, the DWR determined the subbasin was deficient in its implementation of SGMA.  

DWR’s report noted that the primary issue was a lack of coordination between the GSAs and state agencies. This presented a need for a planner to promote collaboration amongst the various GSAs.  

Because SGMA requires annual reports on water budgets, management, and groundwater elevation readings, there is a need for effective coordination between the GSAs. 

Pittack explained that while the county—for decades—has implemented water resource management practices, SGMA has specific guidelines that require the subbasin to present the overall water usage between agricultural and domestic water users. 

“[The agricultural] industry is already seeing impacts from SGMA on local farming operations, which is changing how water is used and managed throughout the Subbasin,” Pittack said. “This is all new territory for both the Subbasin and the state, and I expect that creative solutions will continue to develop to support sustainability of local groundwater resources.” 

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