Groundwater Benefit Zone Study for Santa Clara Valley Water District

The benefit zones establish charge zones to fund groundwater management activities in the Santa Clara Valley. Valley Water uses the benefit zones to assess fees to support groundwater management programs, including water imports, storage, recharge, conservation, and recycled water.


M&A evaluated groundwater benefit zones for the Santa Clara Valley Water District. M&A recommended revision of the two existing zones and formation of two new zones based on the evaluation of areas where groundwater users benefit from specific Valley Water activities. The Valley Water Board approved the changes in April 2020.

Because these zones may change in the future, M&A developed standard procedures and schedules to update zone boundaries. Furthermore, we recommended procedures for evaluating requests for exemption from individual well owners. M&A undertook significant stakeholder outreach, enabling interested parties to understand, accept, and support the technical and legal process for defining the groundwater benefit zones.


M&A’s approach to this project provided clear, defensible, and technically accurate justifications for establishing zones where groundwater pumping charges are assessed by ensuring that wells in groundwater charge zones have demonstrated benefits from Valley Water activities and policies. Services included:

  • Reviewing the existing groundwater benefit zones
  • Reviewing District activities
  • Evaluating water budget benefits from Valley Water activities
  • Evaluating groundwater level trends association with Valley Water activities
  • Designing and reviewing model simulations to evaluate benefits from Valley Water activities
  • Recommending modifications to the groundwater benefit zones.