John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Madera County Supervisor David Rogers speaks about the board’s efforts to attract business to the area at the regular board meeting Tuesday.
Madera County supervisors unanimously approved an ordinance this week that requires “groundwater balance” for large-scale development projects and establishes developer fees and surcharges to fund a new Groundwater Recharge Program.
A large scale development is defined as one that either has more than 500 permanent or temporary dwelling units, employs more than 1,000 persons, covers more than 250,000 square feet of floor space if an office building, or more than 500,000 square feet if a shopping center.
The ordinance also sets standards for evaluating groundwater balance requirements for each project as well as for regaining approval when projects fail to meet their requirements, according to Julia Berry, director of the county’s Water and Natural Resources.
The balance sought by the county is its existing criteria of “net zero” water consumption, the policy says. A net zero balance appears to mean that water used by developments must be replaced by water rights they obtain that do not draw from the local water basin.
“This ordinance is the first step to ensure groundwater balance for the future smart growth of Madera County,” said Supervisor Brett Frazier, District 1.
The new policy, drafted in 2013, states it only applies to developments in unincorporated areas of the county that are seeking permits or other approvals from the county.
The county’s Board of Supervisors approved a total of 27 agenda items at its regular meeting Tuesday. Supervisor Tom Wheeler, District 5 was absent.