State Water Board streamlines permitting process for diversions of floodwater and other high flows to support groundwater sustainability

Coachella Valley Water District’s Thomas E. Levy Groundwater Replenishment Facility.  Photo by Department of Water Resources

Press release from the State Water Resources Control Board:

In an effort to expedite its water right permitting process, the State Water Resources Control Board announced today it has streamlined requirements for applicants seeking to divert surface water to underground storage during floods and other high flow conditions.

The new measures are expected to directly benefit groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and associated local entities striving to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and replenish overdrafted groundwater basins.

The changes, which have no impact on existing laws and regulations, simplify the permitting pathway for capturing water during high flow events and storing that water underground, a process known as recharge. The streamlined approach also reduces application filing fees and annual permit and license costs.

“Achieving groundwater sustainability is one of California’s most pressing water management challenges,” said State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “With a more variable hydrology expected, it’s critical that we prepare to capture floodwaters and other high flows, increase groundwater recharge, and better prepare for the effects of climate change. These permitting revisions will help make that process more nimble and efficient, while still protecting fish and senior right holders.”

California depends on groundwater for a third of its annual water supply, and significantly more during droughts. Parties who divert to underground storage and choose this less complicated approach must meet certain criteria and comply with a water availability analysis that monitors diversion of high flows during the winter.

Within the December-to-March time frame, applicants can choose between two diversion triggers: (1) when a river or stream’s daily flows exceed the 90th percentile and no more than 20 percent of the total stream flow is taken; or (2) a flood control agency determines actions are needed to protect the public.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in 2015, empowers local agencies to manage groundwater resources for long-term sustainability. The long-term planning requirement provides a buffer against drought and climate change and contributes to reliable water supplies, regardless of weather patterns.

New groundwater recharge projects will likely be proposed and implemented by many GSAs as part of sustainable groundwater management. The new streamlined recharge permitting measures are designed to help GSAs obtain water right permits faster to help meet timelines for achieving sustainability.

GSAs also are encouraged to pursue “umbrella” permitting to cover dozens and possibly hundreds of diversion locations in a watershed and large areas of use, such as a water district. This makes broadscale recharge, particularly on agricultural lands, more feasible. It allows a water right holder to manage the diversion, storage and extraction of water on a landowner-by-landowner basis, from one high flow event to the next, or from year to year, without additional approvals from the Board. This enhances efficiency in permitting and annual reporting, gaging and measurement requirements, and accounting.

The State Water Board intends to hold an informational item on the streamlined permitting pathway as part of its regularly scheduled board meeting on November 19.

Information about recharge and underground storage can be found on the State Water Board website.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Proposition 68 Groundwater Treatment and Remediation Grant Program Proposal Solicitation

The Division of Financial Assistance (DFA) is pleased to announce that the Proposition 68 Groundwater Treatment and Remediation Grant Program funding solicitation is now open.  Information regarding the solicitation process is available on the Proposition 68 Groundwater Treatment and Remediation Grant Program website<https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/grants_loans/propositions/prop68.html>.

DFA staff will conduct a webinar on December 2, 2019 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm to provide useful information and guidance on how to apply.  Please use this link to join the webinar: Join Skype Meeting<https://meet.lync.com/cawaterboards/aparjeet.rangi/8MYFWVTF>

The solicitation will close January 24, 2020 at 5:00 pm.

If you have any questions, please contact us at gwquality.funding@waterboards.ca.gov<mailto:gwquality.funding@waterboards.ca.gov>, Subject Line: Prop 68 Groundwater Treatment and Remediation Grant Program Proposal Solicitation.

DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program Offers $47.75 Million in Competitive Grants

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program.

The program provides financial assistance for sustainable groundwater planning and implementation projects through a competitive grant solicitation process. Entities that may apply for grants include Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) or partner agencies of GSAs.

The program is primarily funded by Proposition 68 from which $46.25 million is available for GSAs or GSA representatives to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). At least $1.5 million of additional Prop­osition 1 funds will augment Proposition 68 funding.

Grant applications can be submitted using DWR’s online submittal tool, GRanTS and will be accepted starting at 9 a.m. on September 9, 2019 until 1 p.m. on November 1, 2019.

For more information on document releases, new solicitations, upcoming workshops, and other grant-related announces, subscribe to the SGM Grant Program mailing list.

If you have any questions during the solicitation process, please contact the program at (916) 651-9613 or SGWP@water.ca.gov.

DWR update on Bulletin 74 — California Well Standards

From the Department of Water Resources:

Stakeholder engagement is a critical ingredient for the successful development and implementation of updated well standards. The Bulletin 74 team is committed to an outreach program that is proactive and interactive with information, ideas, and opportunities for two-way exchange. Following the June Kickoff Webinars, we’ve engaged with individuals and groups in a variety of settings and formats. Outreach efforts are ongoing, please reach out if you would like DWR to speak to your group about the well standards update.

Expert Panel

DWR will be forming an expert panel as a technical advisory group to provide input on focused and specific issues given the diverse needs of well standards. The expert panel will include experts in groundwater quality management and protection, well construction and destruction, permitting and environmental health issues, and administration and enforcement of well standards, among others. A primary task of the expert panel will be to review a preliminary draft standards content. The panel is still under development and more information will be provided as details are finalized.

Comments on Existing Standards

We’d like to thank those who have submitted comments on the existing well standards and there is still time to submit ideas. We continue to seek comments on Bulletin 74-81, Bulletin 74-90, and the 1999 GHEWs Draft. We encourage any and all suggestions to be submitted, so please share this request with anyone who may have an interest in well standards and/or groundwater quality protection. Comments can be submitted via the Comment Portal.

Accessibility Updates

DWR is committed to making our website equally accessible for all visitors. Our website is designed and maintained to comply with all applicable accessibility laws. We strive to maintain all information at applicable accessibility levels, but some content, including older documents, streaming video, and archived materials may not be fully accessible as of July 1, 2019. We are working diligently to make that content accessible. As such, some webpage content is being reorganized and updated and you may have noticed recent changes to the Well Standards webpage. If you have difficulty accessing any material on our website, please contact us and we will work to provide the information in an alternative format. Direct your request to accessibility@water.ca.gov or call (916) 653-6192.

Well Standards Update — Timeline

Five years into SGMA, here are five important considerations for balancing groundwater quality and quantity

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), signed into law five years ago, requires local leaders to balance groundwater demand and supplies for the first time. Groundwater is an important foundation of California’s water system, and SGMA is a crucial way of strengthening that foundation and creating a more resilient future for the state.

However, balancing groundwater budgets will not be easy. And this major challenge is further complicated by the fact that activities designed to increase groundwater supplies can unintentionally cause new groundwater quality problems or worsen existing contamination.

A new working paper that Environmental Defense Fund co-authored with Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Green Science Policy Institute; and the Energy and Environmental Sciences Area of Berkeley Lab outlines how groundwater management activities can affect not only the quantity but also the quality of groundwater.

Our paper aims to help groundwater sustainability agencies and local communities avoid inadvertently contaminating supplies as they change management practices to comply with SGMA. In fact, it’s even possible for some SGMA projects aimed at increasing groundwater quantity to actually improve groundwater quality, too, the paper notes.

Click here to read more and download the paper.

This week at the Groundwater Exchange: New pages and capabilities added

We’ve been hard at work, interfacing the Groundwater Exchange with the California Water Library!

New pages for projects and actions now include documents from the California Water Library.  Pick a topic and explore:

Groundwater Recharge,
Conjunctive Use,
Stormwater Capture,
Recycled Water,
Agricultural Water Use Efficiency,
Urban Water Use Efficiency,
Markets and Trading,
Water Allocation Systems

You can access all of these from the Projects and Actions page which is accessible from the home page of the Groundwater Exchange.

We’ve also added a new page on SGMA and land use.

More new pages on the way!

License to pump: New web portal examines, compares and explains the permitting process of groundwater pumping across seven U.S. states.

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.

Click here to continue reading at Water in the West.

DWR SGMA NEWS: Draft basin prioritization for modified basins meeting video available; C2VSimFG BETA2 model released; Public comment period opens for SGM grant program; and more …

NEW Draft Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins Meeting Video Available

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 sgmps@water.ca.gov.


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 sgmps@water.ca.gov.


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.


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.

For more information on this solicitation and to view the full program schedule, click here. Email comments to SGWP@water.ca.gov.


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.


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.

Guidance documents include: Stakeholder Communication and Engagement, Engagement with Tribal Governments, Stakeholder Engagement Requirements by Phase, and Communication and Engagement Plan Outline.


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 monica.reis@water.ca.gov.


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 sgmp_rc@water.ca.gov.

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

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT: Public Comment Period Opens for Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program

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:

  1. Electronic Mail Transmitted comments should be sent to SGWP@water.ca.gov. Electronic files should be Microsoft Word compatible or PDF. PDF is preferred.
  2. 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
  3. Hard Copy via Hand Delivery901 P Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Attention: Kelley List
  4. 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.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Bureau of Reclamation makes up to $3 million available for 2019 Water Marketing Strategy Grants

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.

Relevant Link: