Overpumping groundwater poses a major threat to the availability of a critical resource, especially in the arid lands of the Southwestern United States. States across the region have sought to deal with this issue through a wide variety of regulations and permitting processes. A new dashboard tool, created by affiliates from Stanford’s Water in the West program, compares groundwater withdrawal permitting – a common tool used by resource managers to limit groundwater pumping – to help plan for a more sustainable future.
“Western states have adopted a wide range of approaches towards regulating groundwater pumping, but information about these approaches are not always shared across the region. Our goal is to help parties in different states learn from what is happening elsewhere. This is particularly important in California, where local agencies are working to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West and a dashboard contributor.
The recorded video of the Draft Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins Meeting held on May 13, 2019, and the PowerPoint presentation are now available online. The public comment period for 2019 Basin Prioritization Phase 2 remains open through May 30, 2019.
For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW GSAs May Need to Update Posted Notifications
Many existing groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) need to modify posted notifications to align with new 2018 basin boundaries, reflect new basin names, or clarify groundwater management intent.
If your GSA has been affected by a basin boundary or basin name change you should update that information on the SGMA Portal. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) encourages GSAs to clearly define exclusive groundwater management boundaries on the SGMA Portal before adopting and submitting a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to certify that a basin has complete GSA coverage. A GSP Initial Notification may also need to be revised or re-submitted. To modify existing GSA information, an authorized user must log into the GSA Formation Notification System and follow the instructions on page 7 of this document.
DWR has updated its GSA Frequently Asked Questions and GSA Formation Notification Guidelines documents to help local agencies and GSAs make informed decisions when establishing or reorganizing basin-wide governance.
For more information, visit DWR’s Groundwater Management webpage.
For questions, please email email@example.com.
NEW C2VSimFG BETA2 Released
The Beta 2.0 version of the Fine Grid California Central Valley Groundwater-Surface Water Simulation Model (C2VSimFG BETA2) is now available to assist GSAs during the development and implementation of GSPs. C2VSimFG BETA2 is a computer program that simulates water movement through the linked land surface, groundwater, and surface water flow systems in California’s Central Valley using the DWR-developed software, Integrated Water Flow Model Version 2015 (IWFM-2015). The new version is an update to the model released in May 2018. DWR spent the last year actively updating the newest model to incorporate additional data, feedback, and understanding of the complex hydrology, hydrogeology, and operations in California’s Central Valley. The C2VSimFG BETA2 includes updates to inflows, diversions, evapotranspiration, precipitation, land use, root zone parameters, urban per capita water use, and select aquifer parameters.
- View or download C2VSimFG BETA2.
- For questions, please email Tyler Hatch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW Public Comment Period Opens for SGM Grant Program
DWR opened the 45-day public comment period for the Draft Proposition 68 2019 Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program Guidelines and the Planning – Round 3 Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) to make approximately $47 million available for competitive grants.
The public comment period began on May 3, 2019, and will close at 5 p.m., on June 17, 2019. DWR will release the final guidelines and solicit proposals following the review of public comments.
NEW DWR Updates SGMA Data Viewer with Subsidence Information
DWR has updated the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program’s SGMA Data Viewer to include updated subsidence information to help GSAs, water managers and others implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
DWR is providing these standardized, statewide datasets to assist GSAs in the creation and ongoing development and implementation of GSPs. The new information is available on the SGMA Data Viewer mapping application under the land subsidence heading. It includes historical subsidence information from 1949 to 2005, and updated satellite based remote sensing InSAR subsidence data from January 2015 to June 2018. InSAR is a technique for mapping ground deformation using radar images of the Earth’s surface that are collected from orbiting satellites.
DWR has also created an online tutorial on how to use the SGMA Data Viewer and view the new information. For 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.
REMINDER Take a Survey to Help Plan the Next GSA Forum
DWR hosted a GSA Forum in March 2019 which brought together water planners and stakeholders from across the state to share experiences and strategies as they implement the SGMA. Based on the level of interest and comments received from attendees, the forum was a beneficial venue for building networks and sharing strategies associated with SGMA implementation. DWR plans to host additional GSA Forums to further communication among SGMA water managers and stakeholders. Please complete the survey so we can use your input to help plan and improve the next GSA Forum.
REMINDER: IRWM Implementation Grants Proposal Solicitation Package Available
DWR released the final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) for the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Program, which provides funding for projects that help meet the long-term water needs of the state and incorporate integrated regional strategies. Approximately $222.3 million in Proposition 1 grant funding is available for IRWM implementation projects, with $23.6 million designated for projects that provide support to Disadvantaged Communities. GSAs and SGMA stakeholders interested in IRWM Implementation funding should coordinate with their respective IRWM Region.
- For more information, visit the IRWM Implementation Grant Program page.
REMINDER DWR’s Guidance Documents Can Help with SGMA Communication and Engagement
SGMA requires GSAs to consider all beneficial uses and users when preparing GSPs. DWR has documents that provide clarification, guidance, and examples to help GSAs develop the essential communication and engagement elements of a GSP. These useful publications can be found on the Assistance and Engagement Webpage.
REMINDER Submit Your GSP Initial Notification
Before initiating development of a GSP, GSAs are required to notify DWR in writing. GSAs must submit all applicable GSP initial notification information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System. The SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System also allows edits to be made to a previously submitted Initial Notification, including the ability to withdraw a submittal.
For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions on GSP Initial Notification Requirements or contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR’s four Regional Offices.
For assistance with the system, please email email@example.com.
Connect with Your Basin Point of Contact
DWR has designated Basin Points of Contact to assist local agencies and GSAs as GSPs are developed and implemented and to assist with applications for Technical Support Services and Facilitation Support Services.
For regional inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general inquiries, please contact email@example.com.
From the Department of Water Resources:
The California Department of Water Resources announced the opening of the 45-day public comment period for the Draft Proposition 68 2019 Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program Guidelines and the Planning – Round 3 Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP).
The public comment period began on May 3, 2019 and will close at 5 p.m. on June 17, 2019. Following the review of public comments, DWR will release the final guidelines and solicit proposals.
For more information on this solicitation and to view the full program schedule, visit the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program web page.
Comments can be submitted for the 2019 Draft PSP and Draft Guidelines by one of the following methods:
- Electronic Mail Transmitted comments should be sent to SGWP@water.ca.gov. Electronic files should be Microsoft Word compatible or PDF. PDF is preferred.
- Hard Copy via U.S. MailCalifornia Department of Water Resources
Division of Integrated Regional Water Management
Financial Assistance Branch
Post Office Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236
Attention: Kelley List
- Hard Copy via Hand Delivery901 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Attention: Kelley List
- Public Meetings
A minimum of three public meetings will be held June 3 through June 11. The dates, times, and locations will be posted soon on the following website.
We also encourage you to subscribe to the SGM Grant Program’s mailing list for new solicitations, document releases, upcoming workshops, and other IRWM grant-related announcements.
If you have any questions during the public comment period, please contact us at (916) 651-9613 or at SGWP@water.ca.gov.
From the Bureau of Reclamation:
The 2019 Water Marketing Strategy Grants funding opportunity is now available from the Bureau of Reclamation. This funding opportunity is available to water entities to establish or expand water markets or water marketing activities. Reclamation will make available up to $200,000 for simple projects that can be completed within two years and up to $400,000 for more complex projects that can be completed in three years. Up to $3 million is available for this funding opportunity.
“The water marketing strategy grants provide entities an opportunity to leverage their money and resources with Reclamation to develop a water marketing strategy to increase water supply reliability,” program coordinator Avra Morgan said.
The funding opportunity is available at www.grants.gov by searching for BOR-DO-19-F006. Applications will be due on July 31, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. MDT.
Those eligible to apply for these grants are states, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts or other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the western United States or United States territories. This includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands.
Water markets support the President’s memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West. They are between willing buyers and sellers and can be used to help water managers meet demands efficiently in times of shortage, helping prevent water conflicts. These planning efforts proactively address water supply reliability and increase water management flexibility. Learn more about water marketing at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/watermarketing.
The funding is part of WaterSMART. WaterSMART is a Department of the Interior initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit https://www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART.
The State Water Board has released new fact sheets on the following topics to assist with implementation of SGMA:
- Resources for GSAs to Consider when Complying with SGMA (4/11/2019)
- Probationary Designation and Groundwater Regulation by the State Water Board (4/11/2019)
- Stakeholder Inclusion (4/11/2019)
- State and Regional Water Boards Basics (4/11/2019)
- Funding Opportunities for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (4/11/2019)
- Purposes of Use for Underground Storage Projects (4/2019)
These fact sheets, as well as a cover letter transmitting this information to the groundwater sustainability agencies, are available at the following website: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/gmp/sgma.html.
From the Department of Water Resources:
The GSA Forum is an example of DWR’s assistance role. DWR hosted the event to provide a platform for GSA members and stakeholders to exchange ideas, establish professional networks and foster successful engagement.
DWR’s assistance role includes:
- DWR offers statewide data and tool apps on its website for critically important SGMA-related data like groundwater levels, well completion reports and climate change information. This information makes it easy for local agencies to find information needed to develop their GSPs.
- DWR provides technical assistance by developing statewide datasets, conducting groundwater analyses, and by publishing a variety of SGMA best management practices documents, guidance documents, and technical reports.
- With the Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program, DWR provided grant funds to local agencies to help develop sustainable groundwater plans and projects.
- DWR awarded $85.8 million of Proposition 1 funds in 2018, with $16.2 million specifically awarded to fund projects serving Severely Disadvantaged Communities.
- Proposition 68 extends this planning grant program with $50 million for a round that will begin in Spring 2019.
- Proposition 68 will also fund $100 million for the Sustainable Groundwater Implementation Grant Program, set for early 2020. These grants will be awarded to projects and programs that assist local agencies with implementing their GSPs.
- GSAs may apply to have professional facilitators help with: Meetings, identifying and engaging interested parties, and public outreach. DWR Regional Office staff are also available to help.
The video recording of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Forum is now available on the department’s website.
DWR hosted the Forum on March 21, 2019, as part of its assistance role in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
The Forum brought representatives from GSAs and stakeholders from across the state together to highlight their efforts, facilitate the exchange of ideas, establish professional networks, and foster successful stakeholder engagement.
Click below to view the following:
For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
New report finds at least half a million acres of farmland will need to be fallowed to balance groundwater use with supply
The San Joaquin Valley, California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply, is on the brink of a major transition as it seeks to balance its groundwater accounts.
Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—will bring great change to the valley’s agricultural sector, regional land use, and the local economy.
The pace of groundwater pumping accelerated during the 2012–16 drought. Over the past three decades, the valley’s annual groundwater deficit has averaged nearly 2 million acre-feet—or about one Don Pedro Reservoir’s worth of water a year.
Only about a quarter of this deficit can be filled with new supplies at prices farmers can afford. Ending overdraft could require taking at least 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production.
These are among the key findings of a report released today by the PPIC Water Policy Center.
The new report breaks the issues into three key areas and presents priority actions for tackling them: balancing water supply and demand, addressing groundwater quality challenges, and fostering beneficial solutions to water and landuse transitions.
“The large and complex scope of the changes coming to the valley will require cooperative solutions that bring multiple benefits and get more ‘pop per drop’ from scarce water supplies,” said Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a coauthor of the report.
One promising solution is to increase water trading, which can significantly reduce the impacts of ending groundwater overdraft by allowing farmers to maintain the crops that generate the most revenue and jobs. If farmers can freely trade water within their basin, it will reduce the costs of this transition by nearly half. And if they can also trade more broadly across the region, it will cut their costs by nearly two-thirds.
In addition to water shortages, the valley must respond to serious water quality problems. More than 100 rural communities have persistently contaminated tap water. Valley farmers must also meet new requirements for protecting groundwater from the buildup of nitrate and salts. The most promising tool for augmenting supplies—groundwater recharge—poses some tradeoffs with water quality goals if not managed properly.
“The solutions to the valley’s water quality problems don’t fall neatly into traditional political and institutional boundaries―and with 120 new groundwater agencies, it’s gotten even more complex,” said Sarge Green, a coauthor of the report and director of the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State. “Many players will need to be involved in devising long-term solutions to these complex problems.”
The lands fallowed to achieve groundwater balance could be converted to uses such as solar energy, groundwater recharge, and restored habitat. Getting the greatest benefit from idled lands will require new levels of planning and cooperation.
Governor Newsom focused on the valley’s groundwater, water quality, and poverty problems in his recent State of the State speech and included funds to address safe drinking water problems in his first budget.
The PPIC report recommends key areas where state leadership could help—including providing clarity on how much water is available for recharge, establishing a reliable funding source for safe drinking water challenges, and supporting broad planning processes, among others.
“Leadership from state and federal partners will be critical,” said Hanak. “But the valley’s future is in the hands of its residents. The stakes are high—but the costs of inaction are higher.”
The report, Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley, was supported with funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Water Foundation. In addition to Hanak and Green, it was authored by Alvar Escriva-Bou, a research fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center; Brian Gray, a senior fellow at the PPIC Water Policy Center; Thomas Harter, the Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy at UC Davis; Jelena Jezdimirovic, a research associate at the PPIC Water Policy Center; Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis; Josué Medellín-Azuara, associate professor at UC Merced; Peter Moyle, associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis; and Nathaniel Seavy, a research director at Point Blue Conservation Science. A public event on the report’s findings will take place at Fresno State on February 22.
From the Department of Water Resources:
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced final decisions for groundwater basin boundary modifications requested by local agencies as part of the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Draft results were released in November 2018 and finalized after a public comment period, a public meeting, and a public presentation to the California Water Commission. The final basin boundaries incorporate comments received during this period and resulted in the revision of three of the original draft decisions.
“SGMA is a central feature of the sustainable water future of California and the department is working with locals to successfully implement this landmark legislation,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “These final decisions on basin boundaries move local water agencies forward as they work to bring their basins into balance.”
Under SGMA, basin boundaries define the geographical area included in each groundwater basin. Once basin boundaries are finalized, the basins are then prioritized to determine which will be required to develop groundwater sustainability plans.
Of the 517 groundwater basins and subbasins in California, local agencies submitted 43 requests for basin modifications for either scientific or jurisdictional reasons. Scientific modifications are based on geologic or hydrologic conditions, while jurisdictional modifications change boundaries to promote sustainable groundwater management.
DWR staff reviewed all information provided with the requests and approved modifications that met the requirements of the Basin Boundary Regulations. In the draft decision, DWR approved 33, denied seven, and partially approved three modification requests. In the final decision, 35 requests were approved, four were denied, and four were partially approved. Partially approved means some portions of the modification requests were adequately supported by the information provided and were approved, while other portions were not and were denied.
AQUAOSO™ Technologies, PBC, a Public Benefit Corporation and a leader in water risk management with massive water data and expertise on California’s water supply, officially launched a free digital water map of California water districts, GSAs and groundwater basin priority levels.
The free digital water map is a joint effort between AQUAOSO and California Chapter, ASFMRA, whose members are active in appraisal and management of agricultural properties and who provide consulting for agribusiness.
“Much of this information is publicly available, but does not always exist in the same place, making it hard to identify the relationships between various geographical regions,” said Christopher Peacock, CEO/Founder of AQUAOSO. “After extensive discussions with leaders in the agricultural economy, and based on our existing research into California agricultural water risk, it was obvious we should launch a free version of this map.”
JoAnn Wall, ARA, President of California Chapter, ASFMRA added, “This free resource is a natural extension of the information we have been providing to the agribusiness community for years and is one of the many benefits we can bring to our members.”
Early sponsors of the digital water map includes AgriFinancial, Golden State Farm Credit, Hortau, Pearson Realty, Schuil and Associates, Terra West Group and WaterWrights. Mr. Peacock states, “We are fortunate to have such a great group of early supports in our efforts to deliver new resources to the broader community.”
AQUAOSO will be providing additional data to the free map in the coming months as they continue to assist the agricultural economy in identifying, understanding, monitoring and mitigating water related risks. They currently support some of the largest agricultural lenders, appraisers, brokers and agricultural investors in California to identify water risk at the parcel level. This is in addition to their broader loan and land portfolio tools they provide that includes extensive public and private datasets, including parcel level information, water district deliveries, crop types, soil, and more.
Earlier this month, AQUAOSO launched its innovative Programmatic Assistance with Water Data program to help smaller non-profits with their water data needs. “We are constantly looking for ways in which we can leverage our corporate footprint to have a positive social impact,” Mr. Peacock continued.
For more information about the free digital water map, check out https://research.aquaoso.com/register.
AQUAOSO Technologies, PBC is a Public Benefit Corporation with a mission to build a water resilient future. AQUAOSO provides advanced water risk management and mitigation tools for the agricultural economy. Farmers, brokers, appraisers, lenders, insurers and water managers use our tools daily to identify, understand and mitigate water related risks. www.AQUAOSO.com