DWR GROUNDWATER REPORT: Groundwater Levels Continue to Rebound from Last Drought

From the Department of Water Resources:

California’s climate is the most variable of any state, historically swinging from dry to flood conditions with climate change intensifying these swings. Although three of the last four water years have been above normal with 2017 and 2019 standing out as some of the wettest on record, the last decade has had a majority of the years below normal precipitation and include the timeframe of the state’s most recent drought.

Although Spring 2019 groundwater levels have mostly recovered from the past one to three years, they have not fully recovered to pre-drought conditions throughout the state as shown in the five- and 10-year time periods. At this time, there is insufficient data coverage to determine the long-term effects of the drought in some subbasins throughout the state; however, since CASGEM reporting requirements began in 2011, statewide data coverage has improved in most areas except for data gaps in Tulare, Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties.

Click here to read the full report.

YOUR INPUT WANTED: Groundwater resilience survey

Water UCI, an interdisciplinary center at the University of California, Irvine, has organized a survey of California water and groundwater agencies and stakeholders. This information will be used to help inform the preparation of a workshop on “Strengthening California’s Groundwater Resilience in the context of Climate Change: Governance, Policy, and Economics” to be held by Water UCI in June 2021. The June 2021 workshop will be a follow-up to the June 2019 California-European Union workshop on Sustainable Groundwater Management and Conflict Resolution.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Office assisted in the development of this survey and looks forward to using the results to inform its implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program.

DWR’S SGMO NEWS: DWR operations continue; SGMA data viewer updated with subsidence information; GSP public comment period extended; Update on annual report submittals; and more …

From the Department of Water Resources, Sustainable Groundwater Management Office:

DWR Operations Continue

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is focused on ensuring continued operations while modifying the way we work in the face of the coronavirus to maintain critical functions and protect our staff. DWR staff supporting the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program continue to work and are available to answer questions and provide assistance via email, phone, and web-based meetings.

Fall 2019 Statewide Groundwater Level Change Maps Available

Groundwater level change maps for fall 2019 are available on the DWR website. These maps present a summary of groundwater level trends with multi-year comparisons.

SGMA Data Viewer Updated with Subsidence Information

New subsidence information covering the period of June 2018 to September 2019 has been added to the SGMA Data Viewer under land subsidence. This information can help groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs), water managers and the public implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

For more information and additional SGMA related data and tools, visit DWR’s Groundwater Data and Tools webpage and the California Natural Resources Open Data Platform.

For questions, email sgmps.water.ca.gov.

Public Comment Opens for Draft Upper and Lower San Luis Rey Basin Prioritization

DWR today announced draft Basin Prioritization results for the Upper and Lower San Luis Rey Basins in San Diego County. The prioritization was conducted in response to Senate Bill 779, effective January 1, 2020, which changed the Bulletin 118 basin boundaries of these two groundwater basins. DWR is required to reassess basin prioritization any time Bulletin 118 basin boundaries change.

The Department will hold a 15-day public comment period on the draft Basin Prioritization for these two basins. Email comments to sgmps@water.ca.gov by April 8, 2020.

For more information, visit the SGMA Basin Prioritization webpage or California Natural Resources Agency’s Open Data.

REMINDER: GSP Public Comment Period Extended

Due to ongoing health and safety concerns, DWR is extending its original GSP public comment periods by 30 days. The new deadlines are May 15, 2020, and June 3, 2020.

DWR encourages public comment on recently submitted plans that show how local water agencies plan to manage groundwater basins for long-term sustainability. Comments can be posted online on the DWR SGMA Portal and a SGMA Portal account is not necessary.

Information about how to comment on a plan can be found in fact sheets in English and Spanish.

For questions, email sgmps@water.ca.gov.

Update on Annual Report Submittals

Due to ongoing health and safety concerns, DWR will accept annual reports for the prior water year after the April 1, 2020 deadline from basins with adopted GSPs, approved and pending alternatives to GSPs, and adjudicated areas. The reports can be viewed by the public once they are submitted on the SGMA Portal. The reports provide information on groundwater conditions and management activities for the prior water year.

GSP Annual Reports

Downloadable templates for basin-wide data are available on the GSP Reporting System webpage and must be submitted with the annual report. For questions or more information, email GSPSubmittal@water.ca.gov.

Additional resources are also available:

Alternative to GSP Annual Reports

Alternative Annual Reports will be submitted the same as previous years using the Alternative Reporting System. For questions or more information, email GSPSubmittal@water.ca.gov.

Adjudicated Area Annual Reports

Adjudicated area annual reports will be submitted the same as previous years using the Adjudicated Basins Annual Reporting System. For questions or more information, email Timothy.Ross@water.ca.gov.

Connect with Your Basin Point of Contact

DWR has designated Basin Points of Contact to assist local agencies and GSAs as they develop and implement their plans and to assist with applications for Technical Support Services and Facilitation Support Services.

For regional inquiries, contact sgmp_rc@water.ca.gov.

For general inquiries, contact sgmps@water.ca.gov.

REPORT: California’s governance innovation for groundwater sustainability

For the past several years, California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act has been the talk, not only of the town and of the state, but also of the national and international groundwater and environmental policy community.

What’s the big deal?

SGMA fundamentally changes groundwater management in California – a big deal to be sure. Equally important, as we discuss in a recently published paper, is the broader conceptual significance of the SGMA experiment. That significance lies in SGMAs governance structure.

One key challenge for the authors of SGMA was navigating the complex distribution of authority over water and land in the state. To achieve this, SGMA bridges state agencies, local agencies, and outside entities, providing a role for all of them in governance. Understanding this complex system of simultaneous governance processes is important for policy makers striving to successfully implement the new law, and for decision makers at all levels who are adapting to the new regime.

This post very briefly summarizes our paper.

SGMA Implementation: GSP Annual Report Module Now Available on SGMA Portal

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Annual Report module is available on the Department of Water Resources’ SGMA Portal. Groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) with adopted GSPs can upload their annual reports, which are due April 1, 2020. Downloadable templates for basinwide data are available on the GSP Reporting System webpage and must be submitted with the GSP Annual Report. Additional resources are also available:

Annual reports, which can be viewed by the public once they are submitted, provide information on groundwater conditions and implementation of the GSP for the prior water year. For questions or more information, please email GSPSubmittal@water.ca.gov.

NEW DATA TOOLS: The GAMA program has updated and expanded its online data tools

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

The GAMA program has updated and expanded its online data tools to enhance access to groundwater information.

Since 2010, the GAMA Groundwater Information System (GAMA GIS) online interface has integrated and standardized groundwater quality data from various resources as part of the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program. Data can now be queried based on well depth and well type. In addition, the GAMA GIS now directly accesses a library of geographic information that allows users to spatially compare groundwater quality data to various land and groundwater features, geology, disadvantaged communities, and many other layers. To further its mission, a new data connection tool has been implemented to facilitate data uploads into the GAMA GIS.

Data collected and analyzed by the GAMA program is standardized with data from other organizations into the GAMA GIS. This allows users to query data across multiple sources in one location, while providing tools for custom queries. All data is public and available for download. Data download tables have been improved to include standardized data source fields. Data collected and analyzed by the GAMA Program is also available via the state’s open data platform.

The GAMA Program Online Tools web page includes a growing list of map-based applications to evaluate specific groundwater issues and trends, including applications to support efforts like the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the Human Right to Water initiative. Enhancements include new tools for analyzing trends in groundwater quality accessed by public drinking water wells, estimates of groundwater quality accessed by domestic wells, and areas of potential groundwater recharge.

For example, applications for 1,2,3 trichloropropane (123 TCP), nitrate, and groundwater age/recharge provide an increased understanding of factors that may affect drinking water quality. The new trend tool analyzes statistically relevant trends in 28 inorganic constituents in groundwater dating back to 1974, and allows a user to select long-term, recent, reversing, and seasonal trends graphically, including the magnitude and directions of water quality trends.

Feedback is welcome. Please visit the GAMA Program Online Tools web page to access all tools listed above.

Draft Handbook for Water Budget Development Released; Webinar scheduled

DWR has released a draft single-volume Handbook for Water Budget Development: With or Without Models, which presents existing information on various methods and data sources for developing water budgets. The Water Budget Handbook can help inform the development of water budgets for any geographic area and time period, using modeling and non-modeling approaches.

The Department of Water Resources will hold a public webinar to provide an overview of the Water Budget Handbook.   The link will be posted to this page when available.  No pre-registration required.

For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions on the Water Budget Handbook.

The comment period is now open on the draft document and closes on April 7, 2020. Email comments to cwpcom@water.ca.gov, attention Abdul Khan.

For information on the Water Budget Handbook visit the Reports tab on the Data and Tools webpage.

Updated pages at the Groundwater Exchange: New data and tools, new FAQS and Fact Sheets; SGMA presentations

Newly updated pages at the Groundwater Exchange:

FAQ, Fact Sheets and Brochures page updated: Looking for basic SGMA information handouts?  Fact sheets on GSP evaluations and State Water Board intervention?  Have questions about groundwater quality and SGMA?  Looking for funding opportunities?  Check out the newly updated FAQ, Fact Sheets, and Brochures page at the Groundwater Exchange.

New tools added to the Directory of Tools and Data:  Do you want to know if a well is close to a nitrate or TCP-123 impacted well?  Or want to explore domestic well water quality?  Maybe you want to dig in and use the trends analysis tool?  You can find all sorts of tools and data on the Groundwater Exchange’s Directory of Tools and Data.

Looking to learn more about SGMA implementation?

Check out the archive of SGMA implementation posts at Maven’s Notebook:  If you want to know more about GSP Evaluations, establishing groundwater production allocations, establishing sustainable management criteria, how the Fox Canyon groundwater markets work, or other topics, I invite you to browse the archive of SGMA posts at Maven’s Notebook.  It’s a collection of SGMA content like no other (in a good way).

ACWA releases technical framework for increasing groundwater replenishment

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has prepared A Technical Framework for Increasing Groundwater Replenishment in response to a growing need to promote groundwater replenishment activities as a strategy to maintain or improve groundwater levels statewide. This framework summarizes the tools and resources and provides a narrative framework and checklist for water managers to consider as they pursue groundwater recharge projects and activities.

Click here to download this document.

For more information on groundwater recharge,
Visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange.

Funding a future for water in the San Joaquin Valley

From the California Water Institute:

For all of California’s problems with surface and groundwater, the one not receiving the attention it arguably deserves is the problem of funding for new infrastructure, as well as the ongoing maintenance of existing infrastructure, much of which is now old and decaying.  Nationwide, the American Water Works Association estimates that an investment of about $1 trillion in infrastructure is needed by 2035 to make sure that Americans have access to clean drinking water (Thompson 2015).  Just achieving this in California alone would require spending approximately $30 to $160 million more a year on infrastructure, which, along with flood control and ecosystem preservation, are believed to be more poorly funded than water storage infrastructure (Hanak et al. 2014).

Where will the necessary funding come from to develop, upgrade, expand, and refurbish the water infrastructure systems in the San Joaquin Valley?

Read the California Water Institute’s first in a series of reports about funding options and strategies for water infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.  This first report, “Funding a Future for Water in the San Joaquin Valley: A Literature Review of Public Funding For Water Infrastructure” is available for review by clicking here. Special thanks to Professor Holyoke and his students in Fresno State’s College of Social Sciences for conducting this initial research effort.  We would also like to thank the generous contributions of our anonymous donor that graciously provided funding for this important work.  Stay tuned for the next reports.

Solutions to regional effort can only be made with regional input, we would like to hear your opinion! Please send any comments and or suggestions to this report to waterandsustainability@mail.fresnostate.edu.

Click here to download this report.