PRESS RELEASE: State Water Agencies, CA Water Data Consortium and EDF Partner on Groundwater Accounting Platform and Data Standards

State water agencies, the California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a new partnership today to make an open-source groundwater accounting platform freely available to help groundwater sustainability agencies manage the transition to sustainable supplies.

Collaborative efforts are underway among the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board), the Consortium and EDF to adapt and scale the groundwater accounting platform that was co-developed by EDF and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District with technical support from Sitka Technology Group, OpenET, WestWater Research, and Olsson Engineering and funding from the Water Foundation, among other supporters. Use of the groundwater accounting platform is entirely voluntary.

“Our goal is to help groundwater managers more easily and cost-effectively track water use across their agencies and coordinate within and across basins to find the most effective approach for enabling sustainable groundwater management,” said Steven Springhorn, acting deputy director at DWR for statewide groundwater management. “The accounting platform developed by EDF is a valuable tool for local decision making, and the Water Data Consortium is a natural fit for ensuring the platform meets local and state needs long term.”

Click here to continue reading this press release from the Department of Water Resources.

SEE ALSO: 3 ways this accounting platform will help California groundwater agencies transition to sustainable supplies, from the Growing Returns blog

SGMA in the News

Winter flooding of farm fields could ease drought impacts

When droughts strike, people who rely on shallow domestic wells for their drinking, cooking and washing water are among the first to feel the pain.  Aquifers have become depleted from decades of overuse. Drilling deeper is an option for farmers, but prohibitively expensive for low-income residents in disadvantaged communities in California’s San Joaquin Valley.   A University of California scientist believes managed aquifer recharge on agricultural lands close to populations with parched wells is a hopeful solution.  Helen Dahlke, professor in integrated hydrologic sciences at UC Davis, has been evaluating scenarios for flooding agricultural land when excess water is available during the winter in order to recharge groundwater. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Winter flooding of farm fields could ease drought impacts

FOR MORE INFORMATION: New Modeling Framework Guides Managed Aquifer Recharge Under Climate Change, Research brief from Water in the West


AEM surveys will assist groundwater management in California

Groundwater is a critical source of water for both California farms and communities. The State of California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which requires local agencies in high- and medium-priority groundwater basins to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans.  To assist local agencies as they develop these plans, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will conduct airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys in California’s high- and medium-priority groundwater basins. The project will generate coarse-grid subsurface maps that provide framework information about large-scale aquifer structure. The AEM data supports the development or refinement of hydrogeologic conceptual models as well as helps to identify possible areas for recharging groundwater.  “Statewide AEM surveys will further DWR’s technical assistance services supporting local communities as they work to manage their groundwater supply to ensure its reliability,” said Steven Springhorn, acting DWR deputy director of statewide groundwater management. … ”  Read more from Environmental Expert here:  AEM surveys will assist groundwater management in California

MORE INFOAirborne Electromagnetic (AEM) Surveys, webpage at DWR


Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution

A state appeals court has upheld California’s cleanup standards for a cancer-causing chemical that was added to pesticides and has polluted groundwater in the Central Valley, rejecting challenges by manufacturers that may have to pay the costs.  The State Water Resources Control Board’s 2017 mandate for removing nearly all TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) from drinking water was contested by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, representing Dow Chemical Co. and Shell Oil, which included the chemical in worm-killing fumigants widely used by farmers through the 1980s. They argued that the board’s criteria were not “economically feasible,” as required by state law. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here:  Central Valley water districts get OK to sue Dow, Shell over groundwater pollution


Fresno Irrigation District expanding groundwater recharge projects with $1.2 million DWR grant

Fresno Irrigation District’s (FID) Savory Basin Project (Project) was awarded $1.2 million included in a total award of $4.8 million to the Kings Subbasin by the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Implementation Grant Program. The Project, located within the North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s (North Kings GSA) boundaries, will help FID achieve its sustainability goals by recharging the groundwater aquifer with FID surface water as mandated by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). This Project provides a direct benefit to adjacent disadvantaged community, Shady Lakes Mobile Home Park, and several private well owners.  … ”  Read more from ACWA Water News here:  Fresno Irrigation District expanding groundwater recharge projects with $1.2 million DWR grant


Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a revise

” …  Chavez and her family have relied on bottled water since they found out their well water was unsafe in 2015. But sometimes they don’t have enough and are forced to drink the contaminated water. So when Chavez found out about a new program providing free bottled water delivery for families with nitrate-contaminated wells, she was frustrated she hadn’t been contacted.  “They’re the ones responsible for reaching out to my family and families that have the same issue as mine,” said Chavez. “It’s very negligent of them.”  She referred to the Tule Basin Management Zone, a new organization created to carry out requirements issued last year by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board to get rural residents with nitrate-laden wells clean drinking water immediately and then work on a longer term fix. … ”  Continue reading at SJV Water here: Fail: Tule Basin drinking water plan kicked back for a revise


Paso Robles: Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells

“The Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District (EPCWD) has announced that it has begun creating a groundwater level monitoring network. Initially, the district has begun work to add 30 new groundwater level monitoring sites, using existing wells, throughout the 37,000-acre district.  The campaign marks a significant effort in the basin to move toward groundwater sustainability in the Paso Robles Subbasin, according to the EPCWD. ... ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here: Paso Robles: Water district funding 30 new groundwater level monitoring wells 


Paso Robles:  Supervisors oppose water district applications

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the California Water Resources Control Board on May 4 formally opposing the Shandon-San Juan Water District’s (SSJWD) two recent applications for water from Lake Nacimiento and Santa Margarita Lake—a move that puts two partners on the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin at odds with one another.  In January, the SSJWD, which represents about 135,000 acres of irrigated agriculture east of Paso Robles, applied to the state for up to 28,000 acre-feet per year of mostly overspill flood water from the two reservoirs, which it proposes to pipe into the Shandon area for groundwater recharge. It filed the applications without collaborating with other agencies in the Paso Basin Cooperative Committee—a body tasked with balancing the overpumped aquifer—including SLO County. ... ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Paso Robles:  Supervisors oppose water district applications


Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to discuss Searles nonpayment Thursday

The fate of Searles Valley Minerals may hinge on a special virtual meeting of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority later this week, at least according to SVM’s Camille Anderson.  The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday. At it, the IWVGA will discuss how to respond to SVM’s non-payment of the authority’s groundwater replenishment fee.  The agenda lists a public hearing on the subject as well as a possible order on SVM for failure to pay and report on its replenishment fees. One presumed action may include shutting off water service to Searles for non-payment.  The decision could mean life or death for Searles, according to Anderson.  “If they cut off our water we would go out of business,” Anderson told the DI Tuesday. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to discuss Searles nonpayment Thursday


Indian Valley Groundwater Authority threatens to cut off water for only U.S.-headquartered company supplying vaccine vials

Thickeners at the Westend facility of Searles Valley Minerals in Trona, CA. Photo courtesy Searles Minerals.

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (Authority) conducted a public hearing Thursday to determine whether to shut off the water supply to Searles Valley Minerals Inc. (Searles) for nonpayment of an exorbitant, unlawful and arbitrary fee that threatens the existence of Searles, a company that has supported the local economy with pioneering technologies and good-paying jobs since its founding in 1873. The Authority ultimately recognized that it didn’t have enough information and postponed any decision.  “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s board of directors rightly decided that rather than rush forward with a vote, it was wise to take time to better understand how local residents, particularly senior citizens and vulnerable populations who have already been affected by the pandemic and recent earthquakes, could be impacted by a decision to shut off Searles’ water supply,” said Burnell Blanchard, Vice President of Operations for Searles. ... ”  Click here to read the full press release from Save Searles.


Indian Wells Valley: New report indicates slower groundwater decline in valley basin

The annual report for the valley’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan suggests that the Indian Wells Valley groundwater table is declining on average by some 8 inches per year – in stark contrast to the 1.5- to 2-foot figure that the IWV Groundwater Authority has broadcasted over the years.  The report – delivered by Heather Steele of Stetson Engineers during the GA’s April 14 meeting – includes new information on the El Paso sub basin in the southeastern area of the valley, which has risen an estimated 18,000 acre-feet since 2015. While most other areas of the basin are experiencing more substantial decline, the El Paso findings have a significant impact on the basin-wide average. … ”  Read more from The News Review here:  Indian Wells Valley: New report indicates slower groundwater decline in valley basin

SGMA in the News

California appeals court limits groundwater pumping

For the first time, a California Appellate Court has addressed the issue of limiting the right to pump groundwater by a landowner who has never pumped from a particular basin. While the rights of pumping and non-pumping landowners have generally been considered equal, the Fifth District Court of Appeal decided that, in certain situations, the two can be treated differently.  The decision came in the ongoing adjudication of the Antelope Valley Groundwater Basin, the largest, most complex groundwater pumping rights case ever in California, and one of the largest in U.S. history. … ”  Read more from Best Best & Krieger here:  BB&K Secures Key Groundwater Pumping Rights Ruling

Losing Rivers: Researchers reveal the extent to which rivers across the country are losing flow to aquifers

” … The interplay between surface water and groundwater is often overlooked by those who use this vital resource due to the difficulty of studying it. Assistant professors Scott Jasechko and Debra Perrone, of UC Santa Barbara, and their colleagues leveraged their enormous database of groundwater measurements to investigate the interaction between these related resources. Their results, published in Nature, indicate that many more rivers across the United States may be leaking water into the ground than previously realized. … ”  Read more from UC Santa Barbara here: Losing Rivers: Researchers reveal the extent to which rivers across the country are losing flow to aquifers

100,000 Central Valley residents impacted by contaminated drinking water will soon see interim solutions

An estimated 100,000 Central Valley residents impacted by nitrate groundwater contamination will soon be supplied with safe drinking water on a temporary basis while more permanent solutions are developed.  These solutions in the form of bottled water deliveries or bottle-filling kiosks are outlined in Early Action Plans submitted to the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) for six geographic zones deemed to have the most serious groundwater contamination issues.  The plans are part of the board’s strategy for addressing nitrate pollution in numerous communities that rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. … ”  Read more from the State Water Board here: 100,000 Central Valley residents impacted by contaminated drinking water will soon see interim solutions

Cosumnes subbasin groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

Seven agencies that have been working together to sustain the groundwater in the Cosumnes Subbasin, which includes the communities of Galt, Herald, Wilton and Rancho Murieta South, held a workshop March 24.  The presentation was intended to help residents understand how groundwater will be used in the next two decades in the Cosumnes Subbasin.  The group has until Jan. 31, 2022 to submit its plan to the state on how it intends to meet its target of replacing 20,000-acre feet per year (AFY) in underground basins called aquifers to sustain the groundwater. … ”  Read more from the Galt Herald here: Cosumnes basin groundwater status, plan discussed at meeting

UCI Podcast: How drought and climate change threaten California’s water

In this episode of the UCI Podcast, Nicola Ulibarri, an assistant professor of urban planning and public policy who is an expert on water resource management, discusses how droughts and floods have shaped California’s approach to water, what policy changes resulted from the record-breaking drought of 2011-16, and how better groundwater management might offer a solution for the future.”  Listen to the podcast or read the transcript from UC Irvine here:  UCI Podcast: How drought and climate change threaten California’s water

Rural, disadvantaged California community solves century-old water quality issue by tapping the sky

For over 100 years, the people of Allensworth, California, have been looking for safe, reliable sources of drinking water. Now, after decades of investigating and implementing various technologies, the community is evaluating an innovation that makes quality drinking water from resources in the sky. … To tackle those challenges in Allensworth, the community is collaborating with SOURCE to outfit their local community center with two Hydropanels to sustainably generate drinking water. … ”  Continue reading this press release at Business Wire here:  Rural, disadvantaged California community solves century-old water quality issue by tapping the sky

Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

California agricultural land values that are rising and falling the most are doing so under the perception of water availability – no surprise there. This is putting farmland in the Fresno Irrigation District (FID) in a positive light as that agency has done a good job over the years managing conjunctive use of irrigation water.  The annual release of the Trends Report, a lengthy compilation of data collected by professional appraisers and farm managers in California, is starting to shed light on the role the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is having in setting farmland values. With the call for groundwater sustainability plans by the State of California last year, buyers and sellers are starting to see the writing on the wall for some locations. ... ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Ag land values rely heavily on water availability

Opportunity for Santa Rosa Plain groundwater users to view and correct information

Starting Monday, March 22, groundwater users who own property in the Santa Rosa Plain area will have an opportunity to review and update their water use information. The new Groundwater User Information Data Exchange (GUIDE) Program is being launched by the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to improve understanding of how groundwater is used, and the number and types of water wells in the Santa Rosa Plain basin. … ”  Read more from Sonoma County here: Opportunity for Santa Rosa Plain groundwater users to view and correct information

Newman: Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use

Two local water agencies are moving forward with plans to fully develop a groundwater banking project near Newman.  The groundwater recharge project has exceeded expectations in pilot studies, said Jarrett Martin, general manager of the Central California Irrigation District and Anthea Hansen, general manager of the Del Puerto Water District. They said plans are in the works to expand the 20-acre pilot project to an 80-acre recharge zone. … ”  Read more from Westside Connect here: Newman: Groundwater recharge project will bank water for future use

Video: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

Drought has become an issue in California, and one way to help that are vineyards. California Ag Net explains how researchers are using farmland to recharge groundwater.”

Watch video segment from RFD TV here: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

For more on groundwater recharge, visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange by clicking here.

Mapping Ground Subsidence

Subsidence of land surfaces has increasingly become a greater concern around the world as groundwater has continued to be depleted due to increase water demand while surface water depletion means that populations increasingly look to use subsurface water.

The lowering of Earth’s land surfaces promises to be a major problem for urban and rural regions and mapping these threats accurately may prove important to plan, prevent, and minimize this threat.

Using a literature review and spatial analysis, it is evident that some 34 countries are at major risk in the coming decades for major subsidence of their land surface. In particular, a recent mapping effort that looks at every 30 arc seconds resolution across the globe identified that very flat areas with unconsolidated sediments accumulated in alluvial basins or coastal plains are the most vulnerable.

Click here to continue reading at the GIS Lounge.

SGMA in the news

Department of Conservation awards $1.5M in grants to support State’s Groundwater Management Plan

The California Department of Conservation (DOC) today announced five watershed coordinator grants totaling $1.5 million to support regional sustainable groundwater management goals. The grants will go to organizations around the state within medium- and high-priority groundwater basins.  “California’s world-class economy – its unparalleled agricultural sector, diversity, and abundance of industry and communities of all sizes and geographies — depends on water, and with the reality of climate change, that increasingly means groundwater,” DOC Director David Shabazian said. “Groundwater is a critical resource that we must manage more intently to meet today’s needs while also ensuring adequate water supply in the future. These grants, which support the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), help us do that.”  … ”  Read more from the Department of Conservation here:  Department of Conservation awards $1.5M in grants to support State’s Groundwater Management Plan

Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

” … This post summarizes some recent research examining conjunctive water management for agriculture integrating hydro-economic optimization models on two timescales, neglecting for now salinity effects on crop yield: an intermediate term 10-year stochastic model of water and crop management spanning dry and wet years, and a far horizon (100 years of 10-year stages) management model which embeds intermediate-term model to represent longer-term aquifer targets (Yao 2020). The modeling was applied for conditions similar to California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Integrated economically-driven optimization of permanent and annual crop acreages and water management for these two timescales identifies some economically-promising strategies considering both crop decisions and water management to mitigate groundwater overdraft. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Managing groundwater overdraft – combining crop and water decisions (without salinity)

Dusty barren fields or thriving farmland and habitat? This bill creates a better vision for California’s future

“[On Friday], Assemblymembers Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and vice-chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) introduced a bill, AB 252, to help farmers and rural communities adapt to more sustainable groundwater use while simultaneously creating new benefits for people and wildlife.  AB 252, sponsored by EDF, will help create opportunities on these previously irrigated agricultural land and ease the transition to sustainable groundwater management. It will create a new program through the California Department of Conservation to provide incentive payments to landowners who voluntarily and strategically repurpose at least some portion of their agricultural land to other less water-intensive uses for at least 10 years. … ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns here: Dusty barren fields or thriving farmland and habitat? This bill creates a better vision for California’s future

SEE ALSO: Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Rudy Salas introduce legislation to maximize benefits of Sustainable Groundwater Management requirements, from Benito Link

Water games: Madera farmers set to test market

Madera County farmers are getting ready to play what could be the “game” of their livelihoods.  The county groundwater sustainability agency will launch a groundwater market simulation, or game, next month as a way for growers to see if selling and trading their groundwater helps make the most of what will become a severely limited resource in coming years.  Groundwater markets have emerged throughout the San Joaquin Valley as potential tools to help reduce groundwater pumping per the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Water games: Madera farmers set to test market

GSA, Friant Water settle on subsidence payments

A major portion of funding to repair subsidence in the Friant-Kern Canal was secured last week in a settlement between the canal’s operator, the groundwater agency where subsidence is taking place and the irrigation district most affected by the lack of conveyance.  On Jan. 7, the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) Board of Directors approved an agreement with the Friant Water Authority (FWA) and Arvin Edison Water Storage District where the GSA would pay up to $220 million to repair the section of the canal between Lindsay and McFarland where overdrafting groundwater has played a significant role in the subsidence of the canal, according to hydrological studies. The board reported the vote following a closed session on the settlement. ... ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here:  GSA, Friant Water settle on subsidence payments

Agreement between the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency and the Friant Water Authority will allow transitional pumping to continue

The agreement between the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency and the Friant Water Authority will provide additional funding for repairs to the Friant-Kern Canal.  But the agreement will also help the ETGSA meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act while allowing growers in the district to continue “transitional” pumping.  On January 7, the ETGSA Board approved the agreement with the Friant Water Authority, which oversees the Friant-Kern Canal. The ETGSA oversees the Groundwater Sustainable Plan to meet the requirements of the SGMA to reduce the use of groundwater by a certain amount by 2040. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Agreement will allow transitional pumping to continue

Kings River floodwater dispute goes to the state

A bid by Kern County farmers to take Kings River floodwater officially got underway Tuesday as state regulators hashed out procedures and next steps with the various parties.  An initial hearing had been set for April 15, but may now be pushed back to July, depending on how Administrative Hearing Officer Nicole Kuenzi rules.  Kuenzi discussed coming deadlines and other procedural issues with representatives of the Kings River Water Association, Semitropic Water Storage District and others during a pre-hearing conference Tuesday morning. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Kings River floodwater dispute goes to the state

Delano’s “big dig”

The state’s new groundwater law has prompted a lot of dirt movement in the Central Valley.  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act passed in 2014 mandates that overdrafted water basins get their aquifers in balance — don’t pump out more than goes back in — by 2040.  In order to get there without massive farmland fallowing, most valley water managers have been adding as many acres of recharge ground as possible. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Delano’s “big dig”

Santa Clarita Valley Water calling for input on Saugus Formation Aquifer

Santa Clarita Valley community members are invited to provide input to SCV Water on the removal of hazardous substances that have been identified in the Saugus Formation Aquifer.  The water agency is aiming to keep its water safe for drinking water consumption through minimizing and mitigating the public health and environmental effects of hazardous substances that have been identified.  The public is invited to review and comment on the engineering evaluation/cost analysis dated January 2021 regarding SCV Water’s proposed non-time-critical removal action for the Saugus aquifer and the associated community involvement plan. … ”  Read more from the SCV Signal here: Santa Clarita Valley Water calling for input on Saugus Formation Aquifer

Kern County: Court approves Cummings Basin amended, restated judgment

A Kern County Superior Court judge recently approved an updated water management plan for the Cummings Basin groundwater west of Tehachapi. “The goal is to ensure that sufficient, safe and clean drinking water will be available for decades to come,” said TCCWD General Manager Tom Neisler. On Jan. 5, Judge Stephen Schuett approved the Cummings Basin Amended and Restated Judgment and Physical Solution, which was prepared and presented by the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District. … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News here:  Court approves Cummings Basin amended, restated judgment

San Bernardino Groundwater Council featured on cover of CSDA magazine


The California Special Districts Association has featured the San Bernardino Basin Groundwater Council as its cover story for the November-December issue.  Winner of the CSDA 2020 Award for Innovative Project of the Year, the Groundwater Council is an innovative, voluntary partnership among area water agencies and cities to work together to enhance local water storage in the region.  Record levels of water were captured and stored in the San Bernardino Basin in 2019, due in large part to the collaboration of the group. The ongoing collaboration of the council ensures continued recharge successes long into the future. … ”  Read more from the San Bernardino Water Conservation District here: San Bernardino Groundwater Council featured on cover of CSDA magazine

Western, EMWD partner to enhance water reliability for March Air Reserve Base

Western Municipal Water District (Western) and Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) entered into an interagency agreement this month to partner on efforts to enhance water supply reliability for March Air Reserve Base (March ARB).  The North Perris Groundwater Basin Program participation agreement between Western and EMWD supports a commitment to remedy and protect groundwater resources, providing a new local water supply for the area. ... ”  Read more from Water World here:  Western, EMWD partner to enhance water reliability for March Air Reserve Base

SGMA in the news

Small Farmers Shortchanged by SGMA

“When Governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.

A June 2020 paper from UC Davis published in the international journal Society & Natural Resources, as well as work done by the Fresno nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, have shed light on the procedural inequities. … ”

Read more from Estuary News here:  Small Farmers Shortchanged by SGMA

Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

A large citizens group has begun shaping a state-required plan to make certain Napa Valley groundwater serving world-famous vineyards and wineries is never sucked dry.  The Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee — 25 people appointed by the Board of Supervisors representing such interests as farming, wineries and the environment — was in action last Thursday with a Zoom meeting. …

Read more from the Napa Register here:  Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

Sonoma County: Healthy groundwater?

“Sonoma Valley has a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) that is working to produce a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) by January 1, 2022. The GSA is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agency made up of the Sonoma County, the City of Sonoma, Sonoma Water, Valley of the Moon, Water District, North Bay Water District, and the Sonoma Resource Conservation District.  The GSA process was mandated by state law in 2015, by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. Sonoma Valley is a SGMA-defined high priority groundwater basin for multiple reasons, large dependence on groundwater, possible seawater intrusion, and that in some areas, withdrawals are exceeding recharge. … ”

Read more from the Sonoma Sun here: Sonoma County: Healthy groundwater?

All invited to Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative’s town hall

The Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative (Solano Collaborative) will host its first Virtual Town Hall, where updates will be given on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Solano Subbasin.  Also offered will be background on SGMA; progress in developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP); information about groundwater science; and how the public can stay involved.  A question and answer session will be part of the program. …

Read more from the Vacaville Reporter here:  All invited to Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative’s town hall

East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month.  On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee for property owners who rely on groundwater to irrigate their crops. The meeting is open to the public, not just those affected by the fee or those within the boundaries of the GSA

Read more from the Sun-Gazette here: East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water

“Madness and arrogance” blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week.  At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee approved by the authority last month that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevadas to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer. …

Read more from SJV Water here:  “Madness and arrogance” blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

LEGAL ALERT: Supreme Court of California Weighs In on Blanket Categorization of Well Construction Permit Approvals as Ministerial

From JD SUPRA:

Key points in this legal brief:

      • A permitting agency’s blanket designation of an entire category of permit decisions as ministerial for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) may be held to be improper if the agency has the ability to modify or deny the permit based on any concern that may be examined under CEQA review.
      • Courts will afford a larger degree of deference to an agency’s designation of a single permit decision as ministerial on a case-by-case basis.”

Click here to read the full legal brief.

SGMA in the news

Why conserving water today means more groundwater for tomorrow

Groundwater is California’s water savings bank account that can be tapped during dry years when water in lakes and rivers are low. Conserving water helps preserve groundwater, which is important for plants, animals and people.  Groundwater comes from rain and melting snow that seeps down into the ground and is stored in aquifers. An aquifer is a body of porous rock or sediment saturated with groundwater. Groundwater can move through the aquifer and resurface through springs or be pumped to the surface using manmade wells. … ”  Read more from DWR News here:  Why conserving water today means more groundwater for tomorrow

Paso Robles subbasin stands to lose up to $458 million annually if water use is reduced, says economic impact study

A new study released by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is projecting the potential economic impact of water reductions in the Paso Robles region resulting from the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  The study, The Economic Impact on the Local Economy of Irrigated Agriculture in the Paso Robles Area and Potential Impacts of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, performed by Lynn Hamilton, Ph.D. and Michael McCollough, Ph.D. of CalPoly, estimates that reductions to irrigated agriculture could potentially cost the local economy hundreds of millions of dollars and the loss of more than 1,000 jobs. … ”  Read more from Wine Business here: Paso Robles subbasin stands to lose up to $458 million annually if water use is reduced, says economic impact study

Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

The big kahuna of California water — Metropolitan Water District of Southern California — has stopped taking supplies from one Kern County groundwater bank because the water is heavily tainted with a cancer-causing agent that is pervasive in Central Valley’s aquifers.  While only one banking program has been affected so far, the emergence of this issue could have huge implications for water storage and movement in the Central Valley.  Increased underground storage has been key for agricultural water districts scrambling to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which mandates balanced aquifers by 2040. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Tainted valley groundwater could stymie banking deals

Ridgecrest Groundwater Replenishment Fee

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority wrestles 7,000-percent cost increase or state takeover

The long-awaited conflict between California’s ambitious laws to limit groundwater use and the people of California has arrived.  The front: the Mojave Desert.  Friday, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is set to hold a protest vote of its water users to determine if it will adopt a “basin replenishment fee.”  The fee is an element of the Authority’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan, a key guiding document required under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority wrestles 7,000-percent cost increase or state takeover

Ridgecrest: What if the state takes over the water basin?

What would state intervention with local water management look like?  Well, for a start, local groundwater extractors can likely look forward to forced reduction of water use and forced monitoring courtesy of the state water board. And state control would be exerted directly, rather than through the groundwater authority. New fees would also be assessed, since local users would be expected to foot the bill to pay for the temporary government oversight. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  What if the state takes over the water basin?

Ridgecrest: Groundwater basin replenishment fee passed

The basin replenishment fee was passed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority with a vote of four to one Friday afternoon. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the sole no vote.  The IWVGA voted after the basin replenishment fee protest hearing Friday failed. The IWVGA did not announce the number of protest votes received, although County counsel Phil Hall said it would take roughly 9,900 protest votes for the protest hearing to be successful. IWV Water District Director/IWVGA Vice Chair Ron Kincinski mentioned 4,000 votes, but it was not clear if this was the number received or just a figure of speech. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Basin replenishment fee passed

Desert water basin hopes to dive into California water market

If you’ve got water for sale, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has $50 million to spend.  Or, it will once it starts collecting a controversial, five-year, $2,000-per-acre-foot pumping fee that was approved by the authority last week.  Specifically, the desert groundwater basin about 100 miles northeast of Bakersfield in the Mojave Desert, is looking to buy rights to 5,000 acre feet a year from an as-yet-to-be-determined Central Valley source.  How it will get the water from the valley over the Sierra Nevadas is another question without any answers so far. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Desert water basin hopes to dive into California water market

Ridgecrest: Replenishment fee passed. Now what?

The four-to-one approval Friday of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority basin replenishment fee has left many wondering what comes next. The fee was approved by a majority vote of the IWVGA after a protest hearing against the controversial fee failed. IWV Water District Director Ron Kincinski was the lone no vote on the groundwater authority.  In a delay from the original timetable, the new fee will be assessed starting January 2021. The estimated fee would be $24 a month for the average residential user presuming a five-year repayment period, according to Gleason.  The fee would reportedly collect some $50 million which would be used to purchase water rights for imported water, presuming the same users continue using the water at roughly the same rate. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Replenishment fee passed. Now what?

Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority approves transient pool, fallowing program

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority last week voted unanimously to adopt a transient pool and fallowing program and also approve findings that the programs are exempt from California Environmental Quality Act (or CEQA) review — meaning the programs are not considered to have a significant impact on the environment.  The decision came down after an intense two-day meeting Aug. 20 and 21 culminating with an unsuccessful protest hearing against the IWVGA’s basin replenishment fee and the authority’s subsequent four to one approval of the fee. IWV Water District Director Ron Kicinski was the lone no vote on the replenishment fee. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater Authority approves transient pool, fallowing program

 

SGMA in the news

Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

The recent completion of groundwater sustainability plans for California’s most over-pumped basins was a major step toward bringing basins into long-term balance, as mandated by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). As these plans move through the state approval process, the next stage is implementation. We talked to Trevor Joseph—the first SGMA employee at the Department of Water Resources (DWR), and now a member of a groundwater sustainability agency in the Sacramento Valley—about next steps and possible pitfalls.  PPIC: You’ve been involved with SGMA since its inception. What has surprised you the most about how it has unfolded?  TREVOR JOSEPH: I’m pleasantly surprised that SGMA has gone relatively well to date. … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee

The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency has proposed a groundwater extraction fee to be charged to property owners within its district.  The ETGSA board approved providing its water rate study for public review at its meeting on August 6. The proposed fee is included in that water rate study. A public hearing videoconference on the proposed fee will be held at 2 p.m. October 1. … ”  Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee

This Madera County community is running out of water — and the only well might fail

Residents of Fairmead, California worry they are on the brink of losing water service, as the town’s only community well shows signs it may fail before a new one can be built.  After years of planning, the Madera County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an engineering contract to design and manage upgrades to the system, including a new well to serve more than 500 people connected to the community water system.  Construction won’t likely begin until 2021. Norma Bustillos, a longtime Fairmead resident, worries that will be too late. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  This Madera County community is running out of water — and the only well might fail

Paso Robles: SLO County and USGS ask landowners for help to study Adelaida groundwater

San Luis Obispo County and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are set to study the groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of North County for the first time—and they’re asking local landowners for help.  The two agencies inked a partnership last year to undergo the study, which will collect and analyze data on the water supply, land uses, and groundwater flow over the mostly rural region west of Highway 101—north to Lake Nacimiento and south to Atascadero. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County and USGS ask landowners for help to study Adelaida groundwater

Ridgecrest: Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s basin replenishment fee public hearing at 10 a.m. Friday, August 21 at City Hall will be a virtual meeting, with the public unable to attend in person. The meeting will be live streamed on the city of Ridgecrest Youtube channel.  The public hearing will technically be part two of the regular IWVGA open session virtual meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, August 20. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Replenishment fee, ag buyouts on the agenda for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority

Ridgecrest: Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: Replenishment fee — here are the FAQ

In our continuing series on groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley, here are some frequently asked questions about the upcoming Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority basin replenishment fee public hearing. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: Replenishment fee — here are the FAQ

SEE ALSOLetter to the Editor August 15 2020: Voting no on fee causes more problems than it solves

Ridgecrest: ‘Save Searles’ aims to save mineral plant from 7000 percent water fee hike

‘The “Save Searles” campaign was launched Tuesday, just three days before the IWV Groundwater Authority’s virtual public hearing intended to either approve or shoot down the controversial new replenishment fee.  The replenishment fee would increase water costs for Searles Valley Minerals by nearly $6 million a year, “pushing the company and the local community towards extinction,” according to the campaign’s announcement. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: ‘Save Searles’ aims to save mineral plant from 7000 percent water fee hike

Carpenteria Valley Water District seeks drought proof supply

Although 2020 has presented many challenges, Carpinteria Valley Water District (CVWD) staff are working hard to keep making progress on many important matters while social distancing. The development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) has begun and will help to ensure that we can manage the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin (CGB) sustainably, which is an important shared resource for the Carpinteria Valley.  … ”  Read more from the Coast News here:  Carpenteria Valley Water District seeks drought proof supply