SGMA Update: List of San Joaquin Valley GSAs and GSPs

“SGMA uses Department of Water Resources Bulletin 118 to define basins and sub basins and assign them numbers. The San Joaquin Valley Basin is number 5-22.

Within it are sub basins with their numbers following a decimal. Each sub basin one Groundwater Sustainability Agency or several, but DWR will only recognize one representative GSA per sub basin.

Each GSA must develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan on its own or as a contribution to an overarching GSP as again, DWR will only deal with one GSP per sub basin. … ”

Continue reading at Cal Ag Today here: SGMA Update: List of SGMA GSAs and GSPs

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

“A technique that would help California manage floodwater and replenish groundwater has gained more attention, and removing barriers to the strategy known as Flood-MAR provided the focus for a conference in Sacramento.  F

lood-managed aquifer recharge involves moving floodwater from surface streams onto land where it could percolate into a groundwater basin. Though the concept sounds simple, it brings complications that include managing the floodwater, finding appropriate land to accept it and establishing rights to the water involved. … ”

Read more from Ag Alert here: Water officials work to assist recharge projects

Farmland owners look to solar as groundwater restrictions loom

“New solar energy installations may be headed to the valley portion of Kern County as investors, government officials and advocacy groups weigh options for reusing land that will have to be taken out of production as a result of state restrictions on groundwater pumping.

Photovoltaic solar arrays, for years an attractive investment for local farmland owners, would appear to align with California’s ambitious goal of meeting all its electricity needs with renewable energy. … ”

Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Farmland owners look to solar as groundwater restrictions loom

Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

“Jovita Torres Romo lives in a grayish bungalow surrounded by cactus and succulents and strung with Christmas lights. It’s located on one of the handful of streets that make up Tombstone Territory, an unincorporated Fresno County community that’s been her home for 30 years. …

A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger, Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues—one of the reasons Governor Gavin Newsom chose the community as the location to sign the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act into law earlier this year. … ”

Read more from KVPR here: Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

SGMA news from around the state

San Luis Obispo Supervisors react to ag board letter regarding Paso basin:  “San Luis Obispo County supervisors offered their reactions on Oct. 22 to a recent California State Board of Food and Agriculture letter that levied criticism against the county’s approach to groundwater management in Paso Robles.  The Sept. 30 ag board letter shared concerns about “limited” ag industry involvement in developing sustainability plans for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, as part of complying with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: San Luis Obispo Supervisors react to ag board letter

Look out for a helicopter hoisting a giant hexagon over Paso. Here’s what it’s up to:  “In the next few weeks, a large hexagon will soar through the sky, dangling from a low-flying helicopter over the rural towns and farms east of Paso Robles.  It isn’t the latest trend in skydiving. Rather, it’s the frame for an aerial mapping technology that California is borrowing from Denmark to study how water moves underground.  That’s important information to have. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Look out for a helicopter hoisting a giant hexagon over Paso. Here’s what it’s up to

Selma: New laws may result in water rate increases:  “In order to keep up with the State’s underground water recharge laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to increase.  That was the message local water management officials gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: New laws may result in water rate increases

Bakersfield: Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks:  “The thinking started small and then grew much bigger at a gathering Tuesday in Bakersfield that was intended to provide a “survival toolkit” for farmers and water managers facing drastic restrictions on Central Valley groundwater pumping.  Irrigation and other technical specialists opened the meeting by promoting ways to maximize the region’s existing water resources. Discussions ranged from individual investments in desalination to gathering water-use data as a way for farmers to defend against government accusations of over-pumping. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks

Lois Henry: Kern groundwater shortfall numbers closer to reality:  “New numbers coming in from water districts to the Kern Groundwater Authority show a groundwater overdraft of 249,644 acre-feet a year — and that’s a good thing.  “At the last meeting, I admonished water managers to get serious about this, and I’m pleased to report that they have,” said Dennis Mullins, chairman of the KGA, during Wednesday’s meeting. He referred to the Sept. 25 meeting at which he said it was “obvious that some districts have created water with their paperwork” and that the state would not accept such “phony numbers.” … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Lois Henry: Kern groundwater shortfall numbers closer to reality

Searles Valley Minerals reasserts water claims to IWVGA board:  “Searles Valley Minerals reasserted that its right to pump water from the Indian Wells Valley during public comment at the IWV Groundwater Authority meeting on Oct. 17.  Tom Bunn, SVM’s attorney, cited that this right trumps the Navy’s 1943 federal reserve rights, the year that the naval air facility at China Lake was established. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Searles Valley Minerals reasserts water claims to IWVGA board

Montecito’s ‘lousy’ ground water basin:  “The groundwater basins on most of the urban South Coast are drought buffers of last resort, to be conserved for pumping in emergencies.  But in Montecito, as many as 1,500 private well owners may have “straws” in the same small basin as the Montecito Water District with its 12 public wells, a team of consultants told the district board this month. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Montecito’s ‘lousy’ ground water basin

SGMA News from around the state

Butte County: Chico-based environmental group concerned about domestic wells as farmers propose new groundwater district:  “County water officials went to the Butte County Farm Bureau about four years ago with a message: The 2014 passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)—a sweeping regulatory program intended to curb overuse of the state’s aquifers—will prove crucial to farmers dependent on groundwater, and it was time to get organized.  Rich McGowan, who sits on the farm bureau’s board of directors, told the CN&R that the county’s agricultural groundwater users—primarily growers of almonds, walnuts, pistachios and other tree crops—had been unorganized at the time, working individually or in splintered groups in contrast to the county’s more organized surface water users. … ”  Read more from the Chico News Review here: Chico-based environmental group concerned about domestic wells as farmers propose new groundwater district

Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater plans under public review, at odds:  “Groundwater management plans have been released for public review by both the Salinas Valley and City of Marina groundwater sustainability agencies even as the deadline for submitting final plans looms less than four months away with no agreement between the two agencies in place and California American Water’s desalination project at the center of a dispute.  Last week, both the Salinas Valley groundwater agency and the Marina groundwater agency released their plans for 45-day public review periods that will extend through Nov. 25, the week before Thanksgiving. They have also announced plans for public workshops on the plans. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Herald here: Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater plans under public review, at odds

New groundwater law will have significant impact on Valley farmers starting in 2020:  “The new year will bring new concerns over how much water farmers, cities, and school districts will be able to pump out of the ground.  A groundwater sustainability plan drawn up during the California drought will take effect in January, which will set new limits on how much groundwater can be pumped out of wells.  The impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, will be significant. Hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland are expected to be fallowed as a result of the new law. … ”  Read more from KFSN here: New groundwater law will have significant impact on Valley farmers starting in 2020

Multi-million dollar plan proposed to change Kings County groundwater management:  “Kings County’s groundwater management will begin a 20-year transformation in 2020. Five local groundwater agencies presented more information behind the groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) in a public outreach meeting Thursday night. Groundwater is a significant source of California’s water supply and can be found in groundwater basins, which contain aquifers, according to Bill Pipes, principal geologist of Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: Multi-million dollar plan proposed to change Kings County groundwater management

Tulare County: Less groundwater likely available:  “The East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Water Agency is racing the clock when it comes to meeting the state’s requirements by next year but the message is this:  Those who use groundwater will have to prepare for the possibility of pumping 10 percent less than they have in the past, beginning as soon as next year.  That was the message at a joint meeting of the agency’s stakeholders and executive board held on Thursday. While it’s still unknown how much less those who use groundwater will actually have to pump from the ground, an analysis presented on Thursday showed it’s likely less groundwater can be used as soon as next year. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Less groundwater likely available

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority update:  ” The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority has set up what seems like a permanent residence in Limbo—still no final word on how the California Department of Water Resources has prioritized the valley’s aquifer.  While the basin went from medium to low last spring that designation has not been finalized. The deadline for medium Groundwater Sustainability Plans is still early 2022. … ”  Read more from Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley Groundwater Authority update

Ridgecrest: LADWP not bailing out Indian Wells Overdraft, for now:  “The critical aquifer overdraft in the Indian Wells Valley has been viewed with dread at Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meetings. Between growth in Ridgecrest and the Naval Air Station at White Sands, the area’s groundwater is in overdraft. The Owens Valley basin, on the other hand, appears to be in decent shape with a yet unverified “low” priority rating.  So, why does the OVGA cringe at any mention of Indian Wells? ... ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: LADWP not bailing out Indian Wells Overdraft, for now

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board discusses fiscal direction:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority will scale back some of its work with Capital Core Group, the contractor responsible for grants and researching alternate sources of water and take a harder look at its current pump fee and expenses in order to get a handle on the future expenses.  The IWVGA board looked over its future budget predicament in a lengthy discussion on Thursday, a month after it received a report about a dire fiscal scenario should things continued unaltered. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: IWVGA board discusses fiscal direction

Study Not Optimistic About Groundwater Injection for Montecito Basin:  “There are limited opportunities for groundwater augmentation in the Montecito basin, consultants told the Montecito Water District board of directors on Tuesday.  GSI Water Solutions and Geosyntec studied indirect potable reuse feasibility in the district, which involves treating wastewater to a potable standard and injecting it into the groundwater basin.  Tim Thompson of GSI talked about the hydrology of the Montecito basin and specific storage areas studied for potential indirect potable reuse injection wells. ... ”  Read more from Noozhawk here: Study Not Optimistic About Groundwater Injection for Montecito Basin

Supervisors vote Wednesday on withdrawing San Diego County as Groundwater Sustainability Agency for Borrego Valley groundwater basin:  “Faced with a state mandate to reduce water use by 75 percent after years over over-pumping groundwater, major water users in Borrego Springs have submitted a stipulated agreement for reducing the desert community’s water use by an estimated 75 percent. On Wednesday, San Diego County Supervisors will vote on withdrawing as a groundwater sustainability agency for the Borrego Valley Groundwater Basin, with a goal toward transitioning into water management. ... ”  Read more from East County News here: Supervisors vote Wednesday on withdrawing San Diego County as Groundwater Sustainability Agency for Borrego Valley groundwater basin

 

SGMA news from around the state

Santa Cruz commentary: Protecting our groundwater, and our future:  J. Miles Reiter writes, “The single greatest risk to the future of farms in California is a severe lack of water.  As a berry farmer in Coastal California my entire life, I have been a vocal supporter of groundwater regulation. This may surprise some, as ready access to water is the very lifeblood of our business. Our production areas have little to no surface water supplies, so we are almost completely dependent upon abundant, quality groundwater; something that has been deceptively available for the last 150 years. We are now seeing the profound risk of losing this critical resource, unless we collectively act soon to preserve groundwater resources for both the next decade and future generations. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Protecting our groundwater, and our future

City of Ventura and SB Channelkeeper Sign Interim Settlement on Ventura River Litigation:  “The City of San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper are pleased to announce an interim settlement in the lawsuit regarding the pumping and diversion of water from the Ventura River Watershed. Both Channelkeeper and the City are dedicated to ensuring the protection of this finite water source and the habitat and species that rely on it while providing water now and for the future. This collaborative agreement brings us another step closer towards this goal. … ”  Read more from Edhat here: City of Ventura and SB Channelkeeper Sign Interim Settlement on Ventura River Litigation

Kern County groundwater overdraft numbers ‘don’t add up,’ and that’s a big problem, says Lois Henry:  “San Joaquin Valley farmers have pumped the basin’s groundwater so furiously and for so long that parts of the valley are sinking, endangering roads and bridges and even breaking one of the main canals that brings in water to support local agriculture.  Yet, here in Kern County, state-mandated water budgets presented by several large ag water districts and groundwater sustainability agencies have painted a far rosier groundwater picture.  So rosy, the numbers simply couldn’t be believed — and they aren’t. … ”  Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Groundwater overdraft numbers ‘don’t add up,’ and that’s a big problem

Cummings basin water users hear potential changes for allocations from TCCWD:  “The Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District is hoping property owners, existing customers and well owners within the Cummings Valley basin will agree to set ground water allocation amounts for residential and agricultural uses. More than 180 people were invited to a special board meeting Sept. 27 at the district’s office to hear more information on the topic.  “We need to manage this basin for the long-term preservation of everyone’s interest,” said Tom Neisler, general manager for TCCWD. … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News here:  Cummings basin water users hear potential changes for allocations from TCCWD

Santa Clarita: Applications Still Being Accepted for Groundwater Advisory Committee:  “Applications are still being accepted for a public advisory committee to help develop a plan for sustainable management of the local groundwater basin in the Santa Clarita Valley. The application deadline has been extended to October 18, 2019 to ensure representation from all identified stakeholder groups. ... ”  Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here: Applications Still Being Accepted for Groundwater Advisory Committee

Antelope Valley: Water storage agreements OK’d:  “The Antelope Valley Watermaster gave preliminary approval to the first two water storage agreements to come before the Board tasked with overseeing the 2015 court settlement that set limits on groundwater pumping for users across the Valley.  The Watermaster Board reviewed applications from the Rosamond Community Services District and the Littlerock Creek Irrigation District regarding projects that would, in effect, store water underground in the aquifer by allowing it to percolate through the soil. It may then be withdrawn in the future through wells. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Antelope Valley: Water storage agreements OK’d

SGMA News from around the state …

California’s chronic water overuse leads to sinking towns, arsenic pollution: “When you walk through Jeannie Williams’s sunny orchard, you don’t notice anything wrong. But the problem’s there, underfoot. The land around her — about 250 square kilometres — is sinking. “It’s frightening,” Williams says. “Is the land going to come back up? I don’t know.” She points out the well from which she obtains all of the water she needs to grow organic fruits and vegetables. The well is small and shallow; she only has two acres of crops to water. But her neighbours are far more thirsty, and have been for a very long time. ... ” Read more from CBC here: California’s chronic water overuse leads to sinking towns, arsenic pollution

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Butte County: Supervisors shelve groundwater plan until next month:  “The Butte County supervisors chose to hold off on an agreement for a new groundwater sustainability plan Tuesday.  The agreement will now be moved onto the next Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting on Oct. 8, as more information was needed from staff.  The agreement that was scheduled to be approved Tuesday would have ushered in groundbreaking research for the Butte subbasin’s groundwater supply, according to Paul Gosselin, director of the county’s Department of Water and Resource Conservation. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County: Supervisors shelve groundwater plan until next month

Meeting Monday on proposed new water district:  “A new water district has been proposed for northwestern Butte County, and a meeting has been scheduled for Monday evening in Durham to provide information and answer questions.  The proposed Tuscan Water District would cover all of Butte County west of Highway 99, from the Tehama County line south to the agricultural water districts in the southwest county. California Water Service’s Chico District, the Durham Irrigation District and the M&T Ranch would be excluded. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Meeting Monday on proposed new water district

BAY AREA

Cities in north Santa Clara County explore water recycling technologies for a sustainable, resilient water supply:  “With increased water demands due to climate change and population growth, solutions for a sustainable and resilient water supply are more critical than ever. That’s why the Santa Clara Valley Water District, now known as Valley Water, and the cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View are exploring a potential partnership to help fill the need for future drinking water supplies through new regional water reuse programs. Water reuse can include either traditional recycled water for non-drinking purposes such as irrigation and industrial needs, but it can also include reusing water for future drinking water supplies through advanced water purification technologies. … ”  Read more from Valley Water News here: Cities in north Santa Clara County explore water recycling technologies for a sustainable, resilient water supply

CENTRAL COAST

Mid-Santa Cruz County groundwater protection planning winds down:  “A group of policymakers planning for the long-term water supply sustainability of Santa Cruz County’s mid-county region are in their final leg of a multi-year process.  The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency staff members are in the process of generally responding to a handful of public comments on its state-mandated 20-year plan to revive and secure regional groundwater supplies, the Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The 60-day deadline for comment closed last week after two open houses with nine general public comments, three public agencies — Soquel Creek Water District, National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — and the Nature Conservancy and a consortium of other non-governmental environmental organizations. … ”  Read more from the Santa Cruz Sentinel here: Mid-Santa Cruz County groundwater protection planning winds down

Marina leverages new groundwater law to fight Cal Am on desalination project:  “Four years and hundreds of meetings ago, the farmers and elected leaders of the Salinas Valley set out to prove that they can manage their own groundwater supply. They drafted a plan to limit pumping on more than 130 square miles of mostly agricultural land and to invest their own money to end the seepage of ocean water into freshwater aquifers.  This effort – organized by the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency – seemed to be coalescing ahead of a Jan. 31, 2020 deadline imposed by state law. Then, Marina came along. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Marina leverages new groundwater law to fight Cal Am on desalination project

County steps into Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater dispute:  “The county is considering a move aimed at resolving a dispute between the Salinas Valley and the city of Marina over control of the Cemex sand mining plant site potentially threatening local groundwater management efforts.  On Tuesday, County Administrative Officer Charles McKee announced a formal referral from Board of Supervisors chairman John Phillips that requests the county consider declaring itself as the groundwater sustainability agency over any disputed areas of the Salinas Valley basin’s 180/400-foot subbasin. That would include the 450-acre Cemex site where California American Water is planning to drill its desalination project intake wells. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here:  County steps into Salinas Valley, Marina groundwater dispute

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

California farmers face ‘catastrophic’ water restrictions. Can they adapt to survive? It was 2015 and, as far as John Konda knew, farming still had a viable future in the San Joaquin Valley.  So he expanded.  The Tulare County grower planted 75 acres of pistachios, adding to a farm he’s owned since 2003. Two years later, in order to augment his water supply, he drilled two new groundwater wells. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: California farmers face ‘catastrophic’ water restrictions. Can they adapt to survive?

How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy:  ” … Water shortages, already the scourge of the Valley, are about to get worse. A powerful state law called the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will curb access to water and shrink agriculture’s footprint in the next two decades. Thousands of acres will be turned into solar-energy farms and other non-agricultural uses. The long-term effect of climate change, meanwhile, will squeeze water supplies even more.  All of which suggests a bleak future for a region that is among America’s poorest. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: How the Central Valley became the ‘Appalachia of the West.’ Now, new threats loom for economy

Merced Irrigation District workshops continue to discuss groundwater sustainability:  “The Merced Irrigation District (MID) Board of Directors met recently to discuss and receive an update during a public workshop on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  Established by the state legislature in 2015, the law requires communities with overdrafted groundwater basins become sustainable by 2040.  This means that a community is not taking more water than can be replenished back into the local groundwater basin. All groundwater pumpers in the basin are expected to cooperate and provide the best outcome. … ”  Read more from the Merced County Times here: Merced Irrigation District workshops continue to discuss groundwater sustainability

Higher groundwater pumping fees are coming to Oxnard:  “The conversation about increased pumping fees for groundwater in the Oxnard basin continues with seawater invasion and how it relates to the groundwater locally.  The Fox Canyon, Groundwater Management Agency, held its fourth workshop, Aug. 21, and discussed the reasons why the area will reduce pumping in the future to meet its sustainability goals as it moves toward 2040. … ”  Read more from the Tri County Sentry here: Higher groundwater pumping fees are coming to Oxnard

INDIAN WELLS VALLEY

Ridgecrest: Current Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority projections look grim: “The future budget looks grim for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority, according to a report given by its acting general manager Don Zdeba. Zdeba provided the IWV board of directors with an update on the finances at the Thursday meeting. He noted that while the state has approved a reimbursement check under the Proposition 1 grant it received, and the IWVGA currently has a positive balance, projections aren’t good. The IWVGA’s 2019 budget was approved with $1.71 million in projected revenue and $3.57 million in expenses. ... ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Current Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority projections look grim

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board structure talks future admin structure:  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority rolled out concepts for an administrative structure that could eventually cement the new agency as an independent entity — should money ever be found to fund them.  IWVGA Acting General Manager Don Zdeba presented a draft organizational chart, which places the board members for the five voting member agencies at the top. For administrative staff, the roles would include general manager, followed by an administrative assistant and a joint financial officer/benefits coordinator. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board structure talks future admin structure

Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey

“The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 represents a historic transition to collective groundwater resource management and has the potential to significantly reduce groundwater overdraft in California. A total of 260 groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) recently formed to collectively manage groundwater resources in the 127 high and medium priority groundwater basins of the state.

The simultaneous formation of hundreds of new governing agencies is an unprecedented institutional effort with very few examples to learn from. As GSAs move towards the design and deliberation of their groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs), assessments on the process up until now can directly inform development processes that are still taking place. … ” 

Read more from UC Davis here: Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey

Changing the ground (water) rules

“In 2014 California introduced the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into state law to help manage the conflict between ground and surface water. But updating legal structures to accommodate evolving scientific knowledge involves far more than simply rewriting statutes, according to researchers in the US.

“Understanding the interconnections between groundwater and surface water doesn’t make those conflicts go away,” says Dave Owen of University of California, Hastings. “But at least acknowledging those interconnections in law puts legal decision-makers in a position to start managing conflicts, rather than just letting them play out without any legal oversight.” … ”

Read more from Physics World here: Changing the ground (water) rules