SGMA in the News

Drought conditions static in California as state’s reliance on groundwater grows

Nearly 17% of the state remains in exceptional drought conditions with the majority being in the San Joaquin Valley. The weekly drought monitor showed no changes to conditions in California. The past month’s monsoonal moisture improved conditions in portions of the Sierra Nevada and desert regions, but the majority of the state slipped further into drought.  As the drought drags into its third year, many look to reservoir and river levels to gauge the severity of the drought. However, California’s groundwater, our water “bank account,” is the true measure of water security in California according to supervisory hydrologist Claudia Faunt of the United States Geological Service. … ”  Read more from Channel 10 here: Drought conditions static in California as state’s reliance on groundwater grows

California’s groundwater problems, explained | Q&A

Drought in California means much more than rain and snow falling from the sky, or even reservoir levels. When reservoirs and surface water levels are low, the Central Valley turns to pumping water out of the ground to support its cities and agricultural industry. ABC10 spoke with Claudia Faunt, supervisory hydrologist for the United States Geological Survey, about the drought and it’s effects on groundwater availability, subsidence and water infrastructure. … ”  Continue reading at ABC 10 here: California’s groundwater problems, explained | Q&A

Friends of the Eel River plans to sue county, says groundwater pumping harms fish ecosystem

Friends of the Eel River, a Eureka-based citizens’ group dedicated to protecting and restoring Eel River fisheries, has sent a formal letter to Humboldt County demanding it move to protect fisheries and other public trust values in the lower Eel River from groundwater pumping that lowers surface flows in the river.  “Humboldt County’s recently submitted Groundwater Sustainability Plan appears to be an attempt to prevent regulation of groundwater pumping in the lower river, at the expense of Eel River fish,” said Friends of the Eel River Executive Director Alicia Hamann. “But the county’s own data shows well pumping is pulling water out of the Eel River’s flows. In dry, hot years like those we’ve been seeing recently and expect to continue, groundwater pumping in the lower Eel River basin is reducing surface flows, and even leading to the lower river entirely disconnecting.” … ”  Read more from the Lost Coast Outpost here: Friends of the Eel River plans to sue county, says groundwater pumping harms fish ecosystem

Butte County sees 11 new dry wells reported in past month

As summer begins to wind down, the dry weather that has plagued California this year continues, leading to a number of new drought-related issues.  Over the course of the past 30 days, 11 new dry well reports in Butte County have been sent to the California Department of Water Resources. That comes out to 39 in the past year and 98 total.  Additionally, Glenn County has seen 105 total dry well reports and Tehama County has reported 229, according to data from DWR. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County sees 11 new dry wells reported in past month | Read via the Mercury News

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors calls for more study of revised well rules

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors put off adopting changes to the county’s well regulations on Tuesday, citing the need for additional analysis and more public outreach.  County planning staff presented supervisors with revisions aimed at bringing the county’s well ordinance in line with California’s Public Trust Doctrine, a legal policy mandating local government protect certain waterways for public uses, including commerce, recreation, navigation and habitat. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors calls for more study of revised well rules

Enviros suing SONOMA county; say mismanagement is draining Russian River basin

A revised county plan, adding additional reviews, water meters and other restrictions on new water wells in unincorporated Sonoma County…isn’t enough to stave off a looming lawsuit. The suit accuses local officials of hurting protected species by pulling too much water from local watersheds.  After the environmental group California Coastkeeper Alliance signaled they would not drop their lawsuit, county staffers moved quickly to revise proposed changes to the county’s well ordinance. While officials are set to debate the provisions Tuesday, the organization has already reached a verdict.  Drev Hunt is legal director of the Coastkeeper Alliance.  “The county’s proposal to adopt this ordinance is a partial solution, but it doesn’t go far enough.” … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Media here: Enviros suing county; say mismanagement is draining Russian River basin

Salinas: Pumping of the deep aquifer, which holds ancient water, has intensified in recent years. And it’s bad.

What if the water coming out of your tap, or the water irrigating the produce you eat, was mined from an ancient water source from when woolly mammoths used to walk the Earth? Is that sustainable?  The latter is a question facing the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s board on Thursday, Aug. 11, when they will be presented with the most comprehensive study of that ancient water source in at least 20 years, and maybe ever. It’s a draft, not yet finalized, but it’s fair to say it doesn’t look good.  The stakes are high: Residents in Salinas, Marina, Castroville and parts of Seaside, as well as various agricultural interests, depend on it. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: Pumping of the deep aquifer, which holds ancient water, has intensified in recent years. And it’s bad.

Paso basin continues decline as officials seek real-time well monitoring

The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin lost another 81,800 acre feet (AF) of water storage this spring compared to last spring—the fourth consecutive recorded decline in aquifer levels since 2020 and a continued sign of drought and overpumping, according to SLO County Groundwater Sustainability Director Blaine Reely.  “We’re pumping more groundwater, significantly more groundwater, out of the basin, especially in these drought years, than is being recharged,” Reely told New Times.  The spring-over-spring snapshot is a first for SLO County, which typically does its Paso groundwater measurements in the fall of each year. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: Paso basin continues decline as officials seek real-time well monitoring 

How a Madera farmer fought a new groundwater fee — and (sort of) won

A proposed fee system to manage irrigated land in Madera County has sparked a successful protest, leaving one groundwater agency unfunded and at least one farmer claiming the process was done with minimal notice.  Officials with Madera County added fees to irrigated acreage commonly referred to as white areas — having no surface water access and not belonging to an irrigation district.  Three newly formed groundwater sustainable agencies — Chowchilla Subbasin, the Madera Subbasin and the Delta Mendota Subbasin — are left with no funding for four ongoing groundwater projects required under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. It’s the County of Madera that oversees the land, said Stephanie Anagnason, director of water and natural resources for Madera County. ... ”  Read more from The Business Journal here:  How a Madera farmer fought a new groundwater fee — and (sort of) won

Will Kings County be the first region sent to state’s groundwater “cop”?

The prospect of being sent to California’s “groundwater cop” strikes dread in the hearts of most water managers.  But for John Vidovich, having the Tulare Lake subbasin come under the glare of the State Water Resources Control Board may be the only way to end an irrigation practice by the J.G. Boswell Company that he says is wasteful, abusive and contributing to the sinking of an entire town.  Boswell, which has not responded to requests for comment, pumps large amounts of groundwater into massive shallow ponds for later irrigation, something Vidovich, who runs Sandridge Partners, has complained about for years.  “I think this practice is going to be referred to the state Water Board,” Vidovich said in a recent interview. “I’m assuming this practice will be the focus of the state water board. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Will Kings County be the first region sent to state’s groundwater “cop”?

Central Valley subsidence could last longer than expected

California’s Central Valley could not have become one of the world’s most productive areas of farmland without its significant groundwater supplies. Until the development of the major state and federal water projects that began delivering surface water to the area in the second half of the 20th century, the Central Valley relied almost exclusively on groundwater. … Heavy pumping of groundwater has led to significant land subsidence throughout the valley, causing major damage in some areas to canals, aqueducts, and other infrastructure.  Efforts to limit subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley have sought mainly to stabilize existing groundwater levels, on the assumption that preventing further declines in area aquifers would keep subsidence in check. However, recently published research has found that past groundwater withdrawals are likely to continue to cause continued subsidence well into the future, unless hydraulic head is allowed to recover in the affected aquifers. ... ”  Continue reading at the Civil Engineering Source here: Central Valley subsidence could last longer than expected

New recharge basin increases Fresno Irrigation District’s storage capacity

We may be dealing with a third year of drought, but at some point, we will experience a wet year again.  When that happens, the Fresno Irrigation District will be in a better position to collect flood runoff.  The state is urging water agencies to develop more groundwater basins to capture floodwater when heavy rains finally return.  The Fresno Irrigation District’s newest one has been put to immediate use.  The Savory Groundwater Recharge Basin at Chestnut and Lincoln is already storing water. … ”  Read more from Channel 30 here: New recharge basin increases Fresno Irrigation District’s storage capacity

Tehachapi: Banked groundwater: how much is enough?

How much water has the Tehachapi-Cummings County Water District banked underground in the Cummings and Tehachapi basins? And should the board of directors set a limit for future extractions?  These are among questions explored by the board in recent meetings and after further discussion at a board meeting Aug. 17, General Manager Tom Neisler was directed to bring a proposal for safeguarding banked water supplies to the board’s next regular meeting. The meeting is set for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21.  … ”  Read more from the Tehachapi News here: Tehachapi: Banked groundwater: how much is enough?

Ojai:  Water lawsuit parties say they need more time

Major parties in a water lawsuit involving thousands of Ojai Valley property owners say they need more time to complete ongoing mediation talks. During an Aug. 25 status conference in the Ventura River Watershed Adjudication case, attorney Shawn Hagerty, representing the city of Ventura, said the parties are “working hard” and “making progress,” but there’s still “a lot of work to be done.” “It is almost certain that if we want to complete this process, and complete it successfully, we will need more time,” Hagerty told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William F. Highberger. … ”  Read more from the Ojai Valley News here: Ojai:  Water lawsuit parties say they need more time

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority spending $6.4M for rights to 750 acre-feet of imported water

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has signed an agreement to spend $6,396,000 to buy the rights to 750 acre-feet of state water per year to import from southwestern Kings County.  A nonbinding letter of intent signed Tuesday and obtained by the Daily Independent lays out the terms between the IWVGA and an entity called Utica LJL, LLC to purchase water assets. Utica LJL is in the early stages of developing a site along Interstate 5 about four miles south of Kettleman City to build gas stations, restaurants, motels, an industrial park, and farmland. ... ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: IWVGA spending $6.4M for rights to 750 acre-feet of imported water

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s recent water purchase agreement doesn’t mean what they say it means

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (GA) recently announced they had signed a “letter of Intent” (LOI) to purchase approximately 750-acre feet (AF) of state water from the California Aqueduct from Jackson Ranch, a fully entitled, master planned development in Kings County. The water would be imported to the Indian Wells Valley and sold to residents and businesses, but only after costly pipeline infrastructure is permitted and constructed.  To be clear, a LOI is not a binding legal document. On the contrary, a LOI simply states the parties have reached an agreement on basic terms. A future document, usually a ‘Purchase and Sale Agreement,’ spells out terms and conditions, and once signed, makes the agreement legally binding on both parties.  The thing is, the LOI was not signed by any of the members of the current owners of Jackson Ranch, but by Jon Lash whose entity – reportedly Utica J.L.J. LLC – has an option to buy a portion of the Jackson Ranch. This option has not yet been exercised and expires November 20, 2022. … ”  Continue reading from Mojave Pistachios here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s recent water purchase agreement doesn’t mean what they say it means

Groundwater Authority awards contract for monitoring well project between Rose Valley and Indian Wells Valley

At their regular board meeting on August 10, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority unanimously agreed to authorize IWVGA to award a contract for drilling services to install monitoring wells from the Rose Valley area into the Indian Wells Valley.  The contract goes to Garrison Brothers Well Service, a Ridgecrest-based company. The estimated budget for the contract is $220,360, which falls within the expected budget for the project according to Jeff Helsley of Stetson Engineers, which is the company functioning as IWVGA’s water resources manager. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater Authority awards contract for monitoring well project between Rose Valley and Indian Wells Valley

Antelope Valley water contractors will explore recharge options

The Antelope Valley State Water Contractors Association agreed, on Thursday, to pursue two parallel options for recharging the underlying aquifer with surplus water from the State Water Project in and adjacent to Big Rock Creek, in the southeastern part of the Valley. A pilot study of the original plan — to recharge water directly into the aquifer through the creek bed — conducted in 2019-2020 proved to be infeasible, as the ground did not absorb the water fast enough to prevent it from spilling downstream, where it crossed and flooded East Avenue T. Instead, the Association is looking at either using culverts beneath avenues T and S to direct the water without flooding the roads, or to pipe water into recharge basins east of the creek bed. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here:  Antelope Valley water contractors will explore recharge options

SoCal water agencies celebrate more than five decades of successful groundwater management

As California experiences another year of drought and extreme heat, residents and businesses may be asking how their communities ensure they have enough water for today and into the future. For two inland Southern California water agencies, responsible groundwater management is a piece of the puzzle.  On August 1, 2022, the 51st annual watermaster report was filed with the Court, crossing a significant milestone in this effective working relationship between Western Municipal Water District (Western) and the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (Valley District). The Court appointed the two agencies a shared role of Watermaster following a legal settlement of water rights in 1969. Western represents the Riverside County entities and Valley District represents the San Bernardino County entities who pump water from these basins. … ”  Read more from Western Municipal Water District here: SoCal water agencies celebrate more than five decades of successful groundwater management

SGMA in the news

Going rogue? Groundwater agency says protecting all domestic wells is “unreasonable”

A San Joaquin Valley  groundwater agency may be “going rogue” on the issue of whether it’s responsible to protect all drinking water wells.  A letter approved by the board of the Kings River East Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which covers eastern Fresno County and a chunk of northern Tulare County, says that it is “unreasonable” for the state to require the agricultural industry to raise groundwater levels enough to protect even the most shallow domestic well. … DWR rejected the Kings Subbasin, which includes the Kings River East GSA, groundwater sustainability plan in January.  One of the state’s biggest concerns was that the plan didn’t explain how it would protect community drinking water wells from being harmed by agricultural over pumping.  The Kings River East GSA’s letter calls that requirement “unreasonable.” ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Going rogue? Groundwater agency says protecting all domestic wells is “unreasonable”

Proposed law makes new well permitting process permanent

New legislation introduced in the State Assembly aims to make the Governor’s March 28 order on new water well permits permanent.  Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) and representatives from Visalia-based Community Water Center (CWC) introduced Assembly Bill 2201 on March 31 requiring local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to evaluate new well drilling permits to ensure those wells will not negatively affect domestic wells nearby before the permits can be approved by county government. The law would codify Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order, which is temporary. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here:   Proposed law makes new well permitting process permanent.

‘MRI for the Earth’ probes groundwater from the air

For decades, scientists have poked deep holes a few miles apart across the California landscape, seeking to better understand the characteristics of the state’s 515 groundwater basins in hopes of better managing and protecting them.  Now, California water officials are deploying a new technology—and some new-age, aerial surveillance—to monitor groundwater supplies and aquifer health.  The technology was demonstrated at the Lodi Airport in Acampo and the Yolo County Airport near Davis in April. Before dignitaries and other onlookers, a California Department of Water Resources helicopter lifted skyward, raising a 100-foot-long, six-sided hoop into the air. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: ‘MRI for the Earth’ probes groundwater from the air

Experts recommend privately-owned wells be checked amid ongoing drought

As we approach summer, some experts recommend that private well owners inspect their wells.  “Every well owner should have their well inspected, but this is even more important for those of us who live in California who are experiencing these long-term droughts because the drought does impact operating wells, and obviously, the wells that have already gone dry,” said Ben Frech, spokesperson for the California Groundwater Association.  Frech said an inspection by a certified professional can identify potential problems and leaks. … ”  Read more from KRCR here: Experts recommend privately-owned wells be checked amid ongoing drought

Butte County: Supervisors hold off on Vina GSA legal finance support

The Butte County Department of Water Resource Conservation requested a budget adjustment of $8,000 from the Butte County Board of Supervisors to go toward costs accumulated through a legal complaint against the Vina Groundwater Sustainability Agency.  Department Director Kami Loesser was joined Tuesday by Assistant Director Christina Buck before the board to make the request.  With Supervisor Doug Teeter unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting during which the request was made, the board’s vote was split 2-2 with supervisors Debra Lucero and Tami Ritter voting against it.  Lucero expressed concern that there had been no tracking of costs and time associated with the GSA, which is made up of Butte County, Chico and the Durham Irrigation District. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Supervisors hold off on Vina GSA legal finance support | Read via the Oroville Mercury Register

Central Valley: California’s drought has caused entire towns to sink nearly a foot in just one year. This map shows where

The ground is sinking in parts of California as the continued drought strains reservoirs, increasing reliance on the state’s already precarious groundwater reserves depleted by years of well-pumping.  In just one year, from October 2020 to September 2021, satellite-based estimates showed entire towns in the Central Valley, including in Kings and Tulare counties, sinking by nearly a foot. The maximum loss recorded during that time was 1.1 feet on the northwestern edge of Tulare County.  The sinking, known as land subsidence, happens when excessive pumping dries out the water reserves underground and collapses the space where water used to be. Experts say it’s a century-old problem in California that regulators have tried to slow with sustainability measures. But with the changing climate, they face an uphill battle. ... ”  Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle here: California’s drought has caused entire towns to sink nearly a foot in just one year. This map shows where

San Joaquin County and Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority announce award of multi-million dollar state grant

As severe drought conditions persist in California, news of a $7.6 million state grant for the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority (ESJGWA) to implement its mandated Groundwater Sustainability Plan couldn’t come at a better time. The ESJGWA, which includes 16 regional Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), will soon benefit from the grant funding to help this over drafted basin start down the path to sustainability. Overdraft is when more water is pumped from the groundwater basin on average than is returned to the basin via natural and artificial groundwater recharge.  … ”  Read more from San Joaquin County here: San Joaquin County and Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority announce award of multi-million dollar state grant

Tule Subbasin: Groundwater law’s sinking of ag economy may have been overstated

As the deadline for local agencies to implement plans to reduce groundwater use approaches, a new study finds California’s landmark legislation may have less of an impact on the local agriculture economy than originally predicted.  A study authored by Professor Michael McCullough on the effect of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Tule Sub Basin in the Central Valley shows the long-term effect of the ongoing drought and restrictions on groundwater. It says by 2040, the deadline for local agencies to reach groundwater sustainability, the 2014 law will likely result in the loss of some crops, but probably not the more valuable ones, such as fruit and nuts, in the sub basin which encompasses Tulare County south of Tulare to the Kern County line. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Groundwater law’s sinking of ag economy may have been overstated

Water districts bail on Kern’s largest groundwater agency; form their own group

Fractures have appeared within Kern County’s largest groundwater agency as pressure mounts for it to show the state how it plans to address the region’s massive groundwater deficit.  Four water entities recently notified the Kern Groundwater Authority they were pulling out of the 16-member group to write their own groundwater sustainability plan. That will add a sixth plan covering the Kern subbasin, which extends across the San Joaquin Valley portion of the county.  This comes as members of the authority, and other groundwater sustainability agencies in the subbasin, are working to respond to the Department of Water Resources (DWR), which found all groundwater plans in Kern County incomplete in January.  Those responses are due to the state by July 27. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Water districts bail on Kern’s largest groundwater agency; form their own group

New Paso basin water regulations would ‘exacerbate overdraft’

A new set of proposed Paso Robles Groundwater Basin rules would result in more vineyards and a spike in basinwide pumping, which would “exacerbate” the aquifer’s overdraft, according to a draft environmental impact report (EIR) released on May 20.  The draft EIR, commissioned by San Luis Obispo County, analyzed the impacts of a proposed new groundwater ordinance pushed forward by the Board of Supervisors last year, which would supersede a current moratorium on expanded irrigated agriculture over the parched basin. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: New Paso basin water regulations would ‘exacerbate overdraft’

Santa Barbara Supes tighten rules for approving new water wells

It’s one thing for Governor Gavin Newsom to issue an executive decree ordering tougher rules for issuing new water wells permits; it’s quite another for the county supervisors to craft a new emergency ordinance making it happen. But that happened at the Tuesday, May 24, board meeting.  Supervisors Bob Nelson and Steve Lavagnino worried that the proposed language they were considering at this board meeting was too restrictive, especially for farmers; Supervisor Das Williams worried that the language was too loose, allowing multinational corporations to continue to suck dry the already badly depleted groundwater basins of the Cuyama Valley. Despite such seemingly irreconcilable differences, the supervisors unanimously backed a new emergency ordinance that will require the county’s Department of Environmental Health, which is responsible for issuing well permits, to take additional steps to ensure that new wells are not allowed to negatively impact the production of nearby wells ​— ​defined as within 1,000 feet of each other ​— ​or cause subsidence of the ground. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Santa Barbara Supes tighten rules for approving new water wells

Ventura County: The precious water we cannot see

The Ventura County Star editorial board writes, “In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that forbids the drilling of new water wells or the alteration of existing wells unless the local groundwater management agency determines the new well would not interfere with the production of neighboring wells and would not decrease the likelihood that the underlying aquifer can be sustainably managed.  In water-starved California, the common-sense reaction to that order might have been: Isn’t that already the law?  The answer, in a word, is no. … ”  Read more from the Ventura County Star here: The precious water we cannot see

Ridgecrest: Groundwater Authority begins plan to import water

Photo by David O.

At its monthly board meeting on May 11, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority took its first step towards the long term goal of importing water to the Indian Wells Valley. The IWVGA board of directors unanimously voted to send out a request for proposals from consultants capable of planning the water importation project.  The plan is still very much in its infancy, with language from the RFP implying that the consultant will be planning for a plan for a study of the project. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater Authority begins plan to import water

Ridgecrest: Water District board requests time to review water reports from Groundwater Authority

The Indian Wells Valley Water District board of directors are not satisfied with the process of the annual sustainability reports from the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority.  On Monday, the Water District board approved a motion to send a letter to IWVGA asking them to change this process.  The Water District is the public utility company which pumps and provides water for most people in the Valley. IWVGA is the groundwater sustainability agency responsible for drafting and enforcing a groundwater sustainability plan for the Valley. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Water District board requests time to review water reports from Groundwater Authority

 

The deceptively simple plan to replenish California’s groundwater

From National Geographic:

From afar, the rows of knobby grapevines blend into the landscape of pink-blossomed almond trees and fragrant citrus. But get up close and you’ll see something strange: The trunks of the vines are standing in several inches of glistening, precious water. 

These grapes, at the Kearney Agricultural Research Center in California’s San Joaquin Valley, are part of a grand experiment that many hope will help solve the state’s deepening water crisis. Here, in the state that provides some 40 percent of all the fresh produce grown in the United States, a 20-year-long drought has left growers and communities desperately short of water. To make up the persistent shortfall from rain and snow, they are pumping groundwater—and doing so far faster than water can trickle down from the surface to replenish underground aquifers. … ”

Read the full story at National Geographic here (note: registration required): The deceptively simple plan to replenish California’s groundwater

SGMA in the News

Through challenges of drought, locally led solutions for groundwater sustainability are advancing

California’s groundwater basins are a critical part of the state’s water supply for millions of people. Small communities rely on it, individual homes rely on it. It is a source of drinking water as well as irrigation for California’s agricultural community.  Groundwater is a fragile lifeline for some communities and as we find ourselves entering a third year of a severe drought, conservation will be critical as many of the monitoring wells statewide now show groundwater levels below historical average.  Despite this year’s dire drought circumstances, there is hope on the horizon for long-term groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency. That’s because California started taking action after the last drought. … ”  Read more from DWR News here: Through challenges of drought, locally led solutions for groundwater sustainability are advancing

Drought continues and groundwater regulations heat up in California

2021 was the driest year California has experienced in a century. At the end of the water year, spanning October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021, the State received only 11.87 inches of precipitation, approximately half of average. This came on the heels of the second driest year on record in 2020. … While GSAs worked to draft and submit their GSPs, litigation followed as stakeholders challenged the approaches to basin management. Among the 42 GSPs that have been submitted to DWR, at least four are being litigated in California Superior Courts. So far, these lawsuits are not concentrated in a particular region of the State, with challenges in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and eastern desert regions. A common theme raised in each of the complaints is the allegation that the various GSAs violated SGMA by adopting GSPs that changed the rights and priorities of water rights holders within the basin areas. … ”  Read the full post at Allen Matkins here: Drought continues and groundwater regulations heat up in California

California has begun managing groundwater under a new law. Experts aren’t sure it’s working

In the rural county of Madera in California’s San Joaquin Valley, some farmworkers have learned to ration their water on a two-week schedule. Water gets hauled in by trucks and delivered to homes that have installed temporary tanks to store it in their backyards.  Those cisterns usually hold up to 2,500 gallons, enough water to last a family two weeks, if they’re careful. The average California household uses double that in the same amount of time.  “We’ve been using too much groundwater in the Central Valley that we really do not have, and it’s taking water from our communities now and from future generations,” said Erick Orellana, a policy advocate for the nonprofit Community Water Center. ... ”  Read more from Inside Climate News here: California has begun managing groundwater under a new law. Experts aren’t sure it’s working

Water manager urges patience with SGMA

Aaron Fukuda is frustrated with discussions in Sacramento over reforming water rights. Fukuda, who manages the Tulare Irrigation District and leads a local groundwater sustainability agency, explained his concerns to the State Board of Food and Agriculture during a meeting this week on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  He was specifically pushing back on a new white paper from a group of law scholars that encourages the Legislature to revise the state’s water laws to better account for drought and climate change. Fukuda argued that “opening up water rights” for fully appropriated streams would divert critical resources from sustainability projects to instead cover court fees, and “that, in my mind, is a bad place to be.” ... ”  Read more from Agri-Pulse here: Water manager urges patience with SGMA

What every Californian should know about groundwater

In honor of World Water Day—its theme is “Groundwater—making the invisible visible”—we asked a handful of PPIC Water Policy Center senior staff to discuss groundwater and drought in California.  What should every Californian know about groundwater?  Jeff Mount: Groundwater is our drought reserve, but we tend to treat it like a regular part of our water supply. It’s usually 30% of our water supply, but during drought it’s more than 60%. The problem is that we don’t reserve enough for droughts and use too much during wetter periods.  Andrew Ayres: For a long time we treated groundwater like a property right, but it was a pretty lousy property right. A property right not only entitles you to access it but also excludes others from accessing it. That’s not what groundwater rights do in California. That is the source of many, if not all, of our groundwater problems. … ”  Continue reading at the PPIC here: What every Californian should know about groundwater

NApa-Sonoma: State groundwater management may require metered wells, additional fees

The lengthy, multifaceted work of the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency reached a benchmark in December 2021 when its board approved a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and sent it off to the state for review and potential approval. The plan, including references and appendices, came in at a hefty 1,285 pages, though attentive readers can get the gist in the 28-page executive summary. … Probably the most notable part of the plan is the section dealing with potential groundwater user fees and permits — necessary steps to assure the plan is viable and effective. … ”  Read more from the Kenwood Press here: State groundwater management may require metered wells, additional fees

Westlands growers fear groundwater power grab by district general manager

Divisions are deepening within the giant Westlands Water District as some growers fear the district’s longtime, controversial general manager is amassing too much power.  In mid-February, district staff proposed new groundwater rules that would give General Manager Tom Birmingham almost total control over how groundwater is accounted for and to which grower accounts it would be credited, according to district growers.  It was a move that shocked some and prompted a group of growers to send letters to the district opposing the rules and demanding fair governance. They say giving that much power to one staff person creates a situation ripe for favoritism and abuse. … ”  Read more from Westlands Water District here: Westlands growers fear groundwater power grab by district general manager

Groundwater Management and Drought: An Interview with the San Joaquin Valley Partnership

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is committed to working collaboratively with partners to provide data and tools and proactively address drought impacts on drinking water wells, as documented in the state’s Groundwater Management and Drinking Water Well Principles and Strategies framework. DWR has maintained a dry well reporting system since the last drought period from 2012-2016 in which several thousand dry well reports were received. DWR is assisting local counties and groundwater managers and working with partner organizations to prepare for and respond to drought-related water shortages.  DWR Sustainable Groundwater Management Office representatives, Steven Springhorn and Melissa Sparks-Kranz, recently interviewed three women in leadership positions, advancing drought-related actions in the San Joaquin Valley: Laura Ramos, Associate Director for Research and Development at the California Water Institute, Lacey McBride, Water Resources Manager for Merced County and Tami McVay, Program Director-Partner Services at Self-Help Enterprises. … ”  Continue reading at DWR News here:  Groundwater Management and Drought: An Interview with the San Joaquin Valley Partnership

Tulare to drill new well with state funds

Exeter and Tooleville are the latest communities to go through a state-mandated water consolidation, but not the first in Tulare County. In 2016, the state issued its first ever mandatory water consolidation between the city of Tulare and Matheny Tract, a rural community just west of the city limits.  Now, six years later, Tulare is about to take the final step of the consolidation, building a new well with state money. Tulare Public Works Director Trisha Whitfield said the State Water Board notified the city on March 11 it has been approved for $4.28 million from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program to build Well 4-3, which will generate 1,000 gallons per minute for the city’s water customers, including about 1,500 people living in Matheny Tract. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Tulare to drill new well with state funds

Tulare County to use mining pit to recharge aquifer with flood water

… Working to reduce the long-term risks of natural disasters, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency of Services (Cal OES) announced last month it is applying for $250 million in federal funding for proactive projects preparing communities for emergencies instead of reacting to them. One project in Tulare County plans to reuse an excavated mining pit to recharge groundwater levels with floodwater, which would provide more water for irrigating crops and drinking water while also serving as a habitat for migratory birds. According to Cal OES, the project is requesting $16.27 million in federal funding for the nearly $23 million project. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Tulare County to use mining pit to recharge aquifer with flood water

Using Sentinel-1 and GRACE satellite data to monitor the hydrological variations within the Tulare Basin, California

Subsidence induced by groundwater depletion is a grave problem in many regions around the world, leading to a permanent loss of groundwater storage within an aquifer and even producing structural damage at the Earth’s surface. California’s Tulare Basin is no exception, experiencing about a meter of subsidence between 2015 and 2020. However, understanding the relationship between changes in groundwater volumes and ground deformation has proven difficult. We employ surface displacement measurements from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and gravimetric estimates of terrestrial water storage from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite pair to characterize the hydrological dynamics within the Tulare basin. … ”  Read more from Nature here: Using Sentinel-1 and GRACE satellite data to monitor the hydrological variations within the Tulare Basin, California

Santa Ynez Groundwater Basin users could soon see new water-use restrictions

The Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Basin runs from Lake Cachuma off Highway 154 out to the ocean near Lompoc. It’s used for urban water supply in Northern Santa Barbara County and in agriculture for things like wine grapes and vegetables.  Now, water users in the area may be required to comply with sustainable tactics to help manage the basin after years of consistent drought and overuse.  “Many parts of the basin are nearing historical lows,” said Santa Barbara County Water Agency Manager Matt Young. … ”  Read more from the Santa Ynez Valley News here: Santa Ynez Groundwater Basin users could soon see new water-use restrictions

Santa Ynez Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plans approved

Water conservation along the Santa Ynez River took a significant step in January 2022 when three agencies unanimously approved groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). These plans will be the basis for groundwater management in the area through a 20-year implementation period. … Public agencies in the Santa Ynez Basin formed three GSAs (Eastern, Western, and Central) that cover the area from Lake Cachuma to the Pacific Ocean. These GSAs have been working since 2015 to prepare GSPs that describe the area’s geology, how much water is in the basin, how it moves through the basin, and how it is used. The GSPs also identify projects and management actions the GSAs will undertake to ensure the basin is managed sustainably. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Santa Ynez Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plans approved

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley water pumping 2.7 times higher than natural recharge

The annual water report for 2021 was presented on Wednesday at the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority regular board meeting. In short, water levels are declining. That much was already known, but questions revolved around gaps in the data.  “We cannot be expected to control the overdraft until we understand the overdraft,” said Stan Rajtora, IWVGA board member representing the IWV Water District.  The presentation was given by Stetson Engineers, the company performing the role of Water Resources Manager for IWVGA. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley water pumping 2.7 times higher than natural recharge

Ridgecrest: Hard questions, fewer answers at public workshop on adjudication

Photo by David O.

Members of the public turned up and asked hard questions at the Indian Wells Valley Water District’s adjudication workshop Wednesday night at city hall.  Not all of them were answered.  Questions ranged from potential impacts on small pumpers (unknown) to whether the adjudication outcome can be challenged after the fact (to some extent apparently).  Questioners were polite and articulate, but frequently not reassured by the answers they heard.  “I hope the judge doesn’t just say let’s cut that baby in half and give you each a half,” Skip Gorman said after asking about whether the determination can be questioned after the fact. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Hard questions, fewer answers at public workshop on adjudication

Rosamond Community Services District halts efforts to use eminent domain

The Rosamond Community Services District has halted its efforts to use eminent domain procedures to obtain water rights from agricultural land owned by the Calandri family on Rosamond’s west side. In November, the District Board of Directors unanimously approved a Resolution of Necessity, which declared it in the public interest to acquire the property for the water rights. On Wednesday, the Board rescinded that resolution, as the District had acquired other permanent water rights that meet a great deal of its water needs and temporary water rights that will provide a cushion while the effort continues to obtain permanent water rights, General Manager Steve Perez said. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Rosamond Community Services District halts efforts to use eminent domain

SGMA in the News

Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”

Groundwater plans for two regions in the western San Joaquin Valley were deemed deficient by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Friday.  The Westside subbasin, overseen by Westlands Water District, and the Delta-Mendota subbasin’s plans were officially labeled as “incomplete” by DWR. The state also found groundwater plans for the Paso Robles and Cuyama water subbasins incomplete.  Managers of those plans will now have 6 months to make recommended changes and submit the plans for approval again. If the plans are rejected at that time, the state Water Resources Control Board could take over the subbasins and manage groundwater directly, or take other, more punitive action. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”

Westlands Water District responds to incomplete determination for Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Today the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that the Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Westside GSP) submitted by Westlands Water District, acting as a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, has received an incomplete determination under the provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The determination starts a 180-day window to address DWR’s comments. In response, Westlands Water District General Manager Tom Birmingham issued the following statement:  “Westlands has monitored groundwater conditions since the 1950s and has actively managed groundwater since the adoption of its Groundwater Management Plan in 1996. The Westside GSP, adopted pursuant to additional authorities provided by SGMA, includes numerous actions to ensure that groundwater levels stay at or above 2015 levels. The Westside GSP includes advanced monitoring, data, metering, and groundwater recharge programs to ensure that neither the groundwater basin nor the local communities that rely on it will be harmed by continued extractions of groundwater.” … ”  Continue reading at the Westlands Water District here: Westlands Water District responds to incomplete determination for Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Humboldt County supervisors OK Eel River Basin groundwater sustainability plan

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved a state-mandated sustainability plan for groundwater in the Eel River Basin on Tuesday.  Required as a part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, the groundwater sustainability plan provides guidance on how to manage the Eel River Valley’s complex system of groundwater and surface water resources, especially during critical drought years.  The plan must be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources for evaluation and assessment by the end of the month. The plan must be updated every five years. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Humboldt County supervisors OK Eel River Basin groundwater sustainability plan

Federal, local officials kick off millions in repairs to Friant-Kern Canal

Local and Federal water officials and lawmakers celebrated the groundbreaking of a massive project on the Friant-Kern Canal on Tuesday, marking the start of the canal’s restoration.  Coming in at $187 million, the first portion of the massive effort will restore capacity within the canal in a 10-mile portion that has been affected by subsidence: the sinking of the canal’s bottom from groundwater removal.  With 33 miles of the Friant-Kern Canal in total that have sunk due to subsidence, Tuesday’s groundbreaking kicks off the first phase of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction restoration project.  … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Federal, local officials kick off millions in repairs to Friant-Kern Canal

East Kaweah GSA limits groundwater pumping

“In the face of deepening drought in October, the East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (EKGSA) passed an emergency groundwater allocation policy, and for the first time ever, the Tulare County area’s farmers were given limits and fines for how much water they can pump out of the increasingly parched ground.  EKGSA governs water for much of the eastern portion of the Kaweah Sub Basin, which includes the towns of Lindsay and Strathmore, and the Exeter and Ivanhoe irrigation districts and the farmland that surrounds them. Michael Hagman, EKGSA’s executive director said even in wet years and the rain in late 2021, they just aren’t seeing wells recovering. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: East Kaweah GSA limits groundwater pumping

Ridgecrest: Water District focuses on recycled water for sustainability

The Indian Wells Valley Water District outlined groundwater sustainability priorities at the Water District annual workshop on Wednesday, January 19. At the top of the list were two projects: recycled water and improving data on the scientific model of the IWV groundwater basin.  The list of priorities were put together at the request of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA), a government agency tasked with drafting and enacting the local basin’s groundwater sustainability plan (GSP).  IWVGA is applying for a grant from the Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Implementation Program – Round 1. The grant could award IWVGA with up to $7.6 million to put towards local groundwater sustainability projects. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Water District focuses on recycled water for sustainability

SGMA in the news

STATEWIDE NEWS

State calls on local agencies to protect groundwater

For the first time in California history, local agencies and groundwater users are required to form groundwater sustainability agencies and develop and implement plans to guide how they will achieve groundwater basin sustainability goals over the next 20 years.  As part of this process, agencies overseeing management of high- and medium-priority groundwater basins have until Jan. 31, 2022, to submit groundwater sustainability plans to the state to be reviewed by the California Department of Water Resources, the agency tasked with evaluating and assessing the plans.  Last week, the agency released its second round of assessments of plans developed by local agencies required to bring groundwater basins into sustainability for the future. The actions are mandated under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.  The first round of assessments for critically overdrafted basins happened in June. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: State calls on local agencies to protect groundwater

‘Everybody’s pumping.’ How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought

On the parched west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the drought has created a windfall for companies like Big River Drilling.  A water-well contractor based in the Fresno County community of Riverdale, Big River can hardly keep up with demand for new wells as farmers and rural residents seek to extract more water from underground. “I could work seven days a week if I wanted to,” said owner Wesley Harmon. “In my area, everybody’s pumping. You can’t blame the farmers. They’re trying to make a living, they’re trying to grow food for everybody.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘Everybody’s pumping.’ How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought

Where is the water going? Small farmers struggle as ag titans wheel water for profit

Farmers in the heart of California’s agricultural belt – Kings County – sense something is awry with their water supplies. In this intensively farmed, perennially dry county, water is leaving at a concerning rate.  “We’ve all seen it,” said walnut farmer Steve Walker. “We haven’t sat down and put dye in the water to watch where it actually goes. But everybody talks about it, and we’re all concerned.”  As far as Walker knows, no agency, city or county board is trying to figure out what’s really happening.  “There’s so many canals and ways it can move; it’s hard to track,” he said. But this much he knows — certain groundwater wells in the county are running practically year round, even in wet years. “So, it’s going somewhere,” Walker said. “And that’s the biggest issue. Because once it’s pumped out, we aren’t getting it back.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Where is the water going? Small farmers struggle as ag titans wheel water for profit

Four valley groundwater plans fail to meet state standards – for now

Four groundwater plans in the Central Valley — including those for Westlands Water District, Chowchilla Water District and the Merced and Eastern San Joaquin subbasins — don’t show how they will protect water quality, keep drinking water wells from going dry or stop already sinking land from sinking further, according to the Department of Water Resources.  In short, those plans earned “D’s” in DWR’s first round of assessments of Central Valley groundwater plans. DWR expects to issue assessments on the remaining groundwater plans, about 36 that cover the valley from Madera to Kern counties, within the first two weeks of December. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Four valley groundwater plans fail to meet state standards – for now

Four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans deemed inadequate

The state’s water agency today lambasted groundwater plans drafted by some of California’s largest and most powerful agricultural water suppliers in the San Joaquin Valley, indicating that they fail to protect drinking water supplies from over-pumping.  The four large groundwater basins at stake underlie stretches of San Joaquin, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties that are home to nearly 800,000 people and more than a million acres of irrigated agriculture.  The letters sent by the state Department of Water Resources to the local districts that manage the basins have a common theme: a failure to address how pumping, largely for growers, will harm the drinking water supplies of local communities. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans deemed inadequate

State’s groundwater “cop” weighs in on plans to stop over pumping and finds them lax

As California’s Central Valley water managers nervously await the first official Department of Water Resources responses to plans for how they expect to fix massive groundwater over pumping, some were dismayed to “stumble” on comments from a different, and very powerful, state water agency.The State Water Resources Control Board quietly submitted highly critical comments on five Central Valley groundwater sustainability plans in late summer that some local groundwater agencies only recently discovered.  Since the Water Board is the ultimate enforcement arm of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the significance of these comments was immediately noted by water managers. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: State’s groundwater “cop” weighs in on plans to stop over pumping and finds them lax

State’s groundwater “cop” hands out more criticism of valley plans

Another set of comments critical of how San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans will impact drinking water wells dropped on Friday from the powerful State Water Resources Control Board.  The comments focused on plans that cover the City of Fresno and many surrounding towns as well as Visalia and a number of smaller towns in Tulare County. Specifically, it commented on plans covering most of the Kings and Kaweah subbasins.  One of the Kaweah plans, which covers the communities of Lindsay and Strathmore in eastern Tulare County, could result in “the dewatering over over one-third of the domestic wells throughout the subbasin,” the Water Board letter states. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: State’s groundwater “cop” hands out more criticism of valley plans

Central Valley groundwater may not recover from droughts

Groundwater in Calif.’s Central Valley is at risk of being depleted by pumping too much water during and after droughts, according to a new study in the American Geophysical Union journal Water Resources Research.  The study finds that groundwater storage recovery has been dismal after the state’s last two droughts, with less than a third of groundwater recovered from the drought that spanned 2012 to 2016. Under a best-case scenario where drought years are followed by consecutive wet years with above-average precipitation, the researchers found there is a high probability it would take six to eight years to fully recover overdrafted water. … ”  Continue reading from Water World here: Central Valley groundwater may not recover from droughts


REGIONAL SGMA NEWS

Lake County: Big Valley Basin draft groundwater sustainability plan released for public review

The Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency and Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee have released the draft groundwater sustainability plan for the Big Valley Groundwater Basin for public review.  The Big Valley Basin Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan, or GSP, is now available for review during a formal 21-day public comment period that ends Dec. 3.  The GSP is being prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, or SGMA, which was amended in 2015.  Deputy Water Resources Director Marina Deligiannis told Lake County News that the Big Valley Draft GSP is the first and only draft GSP prepared for Lake County as required by SGMA. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News here: Big Valley Basin draft groundwater sustainability plan released for public review

WEIRD SCIENCE: The sky hoop will tell us about Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater aquifer

If you were in the Ukiah Valley yesterday, you may have noticed a helicopter towing a giant hoop in the sky. That hoop is equipped with technology that will fill an important data gap as agencies across the state try to figure out how to better manage their groundwater aquifers.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR) flew the helicopter over the area with Nordic company Skytem’s geophysical survey equipment attached to the giant hoop on Thursday, Nov. 11.  The signals that equipment sends to and receives from the Earth provide invaluable data about the structure of the groundwater basin and aquifer, but not how much water is inside them, said Katherine Dlubac, who is on DWR’s airborne electromagnetic survey team. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: WEIRD SCIENCE: The sky hoop will tell us about Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater aquifer

Yuba Groundwater Sustainability Plan formally approved by Department of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources today formally approved the groundwater sustainability plan for the North and South Yuba groundwater subbasins in Yuba County. The plan was developed by Yuba Water Agency in coordination with Cordua Irrigation District, the City of Marysville and dozens of stakeholders to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.  “The sustainable groundwater conditions in Yuba County and today’s announcement are testaments to the success of locally-driven water management,” said Scott Matyac, Yuba Water’s director of water resources. “We’re grateful to our local partners for their work on this plan and their continued commitment to protecting this critical resource for our region.” … ”  Read more from Yuba Water Agency here: Yuba Groundwater Sustainability Plan formally approved by Department of Water Resources

Commentary: Scary developments at Nevada Irrigation District

Jeff Litton writes, “You might have missed it, but something scary just happened at NID on Nov. 10. First, I want to thank our two excellent NID directors — Ricki Heck and Laura Peters. These directors are experienced, smart, and think critically.  The other three NID directors voted to remove NID from the Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a vitally important group of agencies that work together to protect the groundwater of the region. This network of agencies collaborates to make sure groundwater is sustainably managed, and thereby protects wells from going dry. … ”  Read more from The Union here: Commentary: Scary developments at Nevada Irrigation District

Sonoma County backs well water regulations, favoring new era of groundwater oversight

“Hailed as a complex and historic step, Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously endorsed plans to guide use and governance of groundwater relied on by rural residents, farmers and cities.  The plans, required by a 2014 state law crafted amid California’s past drought, will eventually include well water use fees in three basins underlying the Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma and Petaluma valleys.  The plans, four years in the works and due for submission to the state Department of Water Resources in January, are “extraordinarily complex, politically charged and technically nuanced,” board Chair Lynda Hopkins said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County backs well water regulations, favoring new era of groundwater oversight

Pajaro Valley Water Board adopts basin management plan: Groundwater Sustainability Update 2022

The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PV Water) Board of Directors unanimously adopted the Basin Management Plan: Groundwater Sustainability Update 2022 (GSU22) on Wednesday evening. The action came after more than a year of work on the plan by a 17 member Ad Hoc Sustainable Groundwater Committee, staff, consultants, and interested parties, which included 23 meetings in total. The Board meeting was attended by 29 people and many provided remarks during a public hearing, after which the Board took action. Adoption of the Plan, which includes newly developed sustainable groundwater management criteria, is a significant achievement and a requirement under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, a 2014 law requiring groundwater basins in California to achieve sustainable groundwater resources by 2040. A $500,000 grant from the California Department of Water Resources, under Proposition 68, provided funding for this effort. … ”  Read more from the Pajaro Valley Water Agency here: Pajaro Valley Water Board adopts basin management plan: Groundwater Sustainability Update 2022

Conservation ethic allows Monterey Bay farmers to thrive during drought

Despite October’s record-setting rains, Central Valley farmers are still reeling from having their water supplies drastically reduced when the drought intensified last spring. Many farmers have been forced to rip out crops that can no longer be irrigated. Some have doubled or tripled their groundwater pumping as wells dry up before their eyes.  In the Monterey Bay area, however, crops reach toward the sun with thirst-quenched leaves. Well levels aren’t raising any alarms and the threat of losing water supplies has mostly subsided.  “I don’t know anybody having water issues right now,” said Joe Schirmer, owner of Dirty Girl Produce, a 40-acre organic farm in Watsonville. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Conservation ethic allows Monterey Bay farmers to thrive during drought

Ventura: CA DWR passes Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Fox Canyon GMA

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has approved the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency Groundwater Sustainability Plans, covering Oxnard and Pleasant Valley Basins—its two critically over-drafted basins.  The California Department of Water Resources released its second round of assessments of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) developed by local agencies to meet the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requirements. ... ”  Read more from The Patch here: Ventura: CA DWR passes Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Fox Canyon GMA

Rosamond Community Services District eyes eminent domain process to obtain water rights

The Rosamond Community Services District Board of Directors, on Thursday, agreed to begin eminent domain proceedings to obtain water rights from agricultural land owned by the Calandri family on Rosamond’s west side.  The Board unanimously approved a Resolution of Necessity, which declared it in the public interest to acquire the property for the water rights. Ed Lear, a litigation attorney representing the Calandri family, said they will challenge the action as a violation of the water basin adjudication. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Rosamond Community Services District eyes eminent domain process to obtain water rights

SGMA in the news

Dry wells, drastic cutbacks. For many Californians, drought hardships have already arrived

Staci Buttermore turned a faucet on the morning of May 28. She got nothing more than a stuttering sound, a staccato burp of air.  Her well, 95 feet deep, had gone dry.  For 24 years she and her husband had lived on a small ranch in Glenn County without a hint of water problems. Her husband’s family had lived there for a quarter-century before that, and every time the faucet was turned on, the water gushed out.  Suddenly, they had become the latest victims of California’s drought. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Dry wells, drastic cutbacks. For many Californians, drought hardships have already arrived

Public meetings planned to discuss Colusa Subbasin

The Colusa Groundwater Authority (CGA) and the Glenn Groundwater Authority (GGA) will host two public meetings to discuss the Public Draft Colusa Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) next week.  “We’re at the culmination of a long process and on the cusp of implementing projects that will better monitor and enhance our groundwater,” said Denise Carter, GCA board chair and Colusa County Supervisor. “These meetings and the public comment period are a critical opportunity for stakeholders to give their input to the CGA and GGA before we approve the GSP and submit it to the state. I encourage every affected groundwater user in the subbasin to attend one of these meetings, review the plan and give us your feedback.” … ”  Continue reading at Yahoo News here: Public meetings planned to discuss Colusa Subbasin

Butte County supervisors back new water district

After a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to support a proposed water district in the northwest county.  The Tuscan Water District would cover 102,000 acres stretching from Butte Valley, north and west to the Tehama and Glenn county lines, excluding Cal Water’s Chico Division. The district name refers to the aquifer beneath the area.  The area is almost entirely dependent on groundwater, and to meet the provisions of a recent state law, the amount that is pumped will have to be reduced.  A group of farmers proposed the Tuscan District to import surface water so less groundwater will have to be pumped. That’s because if conservation and other measures don’t achieve enough of a reduction in pumping, farmland will have to be fallowed. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County supervisors back new water district

Sonoma County: Release of final draft groundwater sustainability plans and opportunity to comment at upcoming community meetings

Sonoma County’s three groundwater sustainability agencies, Petaluma Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain, are releasing the Final Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) on October 1.  The GSPs assess the conditions of the groundwater basin, analyze the basin’s sustainability over a 50-year period, and identify projects and actions needed to ensure the basin is sustainable by 2042. … ”  Read more from Sonoma County here: Sonoma County: Release of final draft groundwater sustainability plans and opportunity to comment at upcoming community meetings 

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority requests public input

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 empowers local agencies to ensure groundwater resources are managed sustainably. The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority (OVGA) was created to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) for the Owens Valley Groundwater Basin which includes the Owens, Round, Chalfant, Hammil, and Benton Valleys as well as Fish Slough and the area around Owens Lake. The OVGA is a joint powers authority composed of Inyo County, Mono County, City of Bishop, Indian CreekWestridge Community Service District (CSD), and Big Pine CSD as well as two interested parties, the Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone Tribe and the Owens Valley Committee.  Even though the Basin is not in a critically over-drafted condition and was ranked by the California Department of Water Resources as a low priority basin, the OVGA elected to develop a GSP voluntarily over the last year.  … ”  Continue reading from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley Groundwater Authority requests public input

Video: Groundwater and Urban Growth in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is home to some 4 million residents and growing rapidly: another 1 million residents are expected by 2040. Groundwater is the primary water source for these communities, yet decades of overpumping have stressed the region’s groundwater basins, resulting in land subsidence, dry wells, and falling groundwater reserves. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) seeks to solve this issue by mandating that water users bring their groundwater basins back into balance by the 2040s.  “Much of the discussion around implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in the valley focuses on agriculture,” said PPIC research fellow Andrew Ayres at a virtual event last week. “That makes sense, because agriculture is a key player in SGMA implementation in the valley. Urban areas, though they use much less water, oftentimes are highly reliant on groundwater, so SGMA implementation is very important for them as well.” … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Video: Groundwater and Urban Growth in the San Joaquin Valley

Retired farmer warns of huge water problem

For many years. retired farmer Tom Willey of T&D Willey Organic Farms, pumped water onto his 75 acres of farmland in Madera County.  During his 20 years of farming, Willey didn’t think of much other than growing his crops and living off the land.  However, now he realized he was part of the problem and, if something isn’t done, the entire Central Valley could be in for a rude awakening when it comes to water issues.  “A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my friend, Matt Angell, who owns Madera Pumps,” Willey said. “He basically goes around and services a bunch of agriculture wells. He has been running cameras down people’s wells at a rate of about three a day. People have been calling him frantically of what is going on with their pump with no water or water quality bad. … ”  Continue reading at the Madera Tribune here: Retired farmer warns of huge water problem

Water is scarce in California. But farmers have found ways to store it underground

Aaron Fukuda admits that the 15-acre sunken field behind his office doesn’t look like much.  It’s basically a big, wide hole in the ground behind the headquarters of the Tulare Irrigation District, in the southern part of California’s fertile Central Valley. But “for a water resources nerd like myself, it’s a sexy, sexy piece of infrastructure,” says Fukuda, the district’s general manager.  This earthen basin could be the key to survival for an agricultural community that delivers huge quantities of vegetables, fruit and nuts to the rest of the country — but is running short of water. The basin just needs California’s rivers to rise and flood it. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Public Radio here: Water is scarce in California. But farmers have found ways to store it underground

Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update is available for public review and comment

The draft 2021 Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update is now available for public review and comment.  The Indio Subbasin, which is where most local drinking water comes from, is part of the Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin.   The update outlines how local water managers plan to meet future water demands, maintain stable groundwater levels, manage and protect water quality, collaborate with tribes and state and federal agencies on shared objectives, manage future costs, minimize adverse environmental impacts, and reduce vulnerability to climate change and drought impacts. ... ”  Continue reading from the Coachella Valley Water District here: Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update is available for public review and comment

SGMA in the News

Proposed north Butte County water district stirring controversy

A proposal for a new Butte County water district is wending its way through the approval process, and not everyone is happy about that.  The Tuscan Water District would cover most of the northwestern county, excluding Chico. The area is dependent on well water. Under a recently approved state law, the amount of groundwater currently being pumped in the area will have to be reduced.  Each well owner is currently on their own. No entity speaks for them as a group. Proponents say the Tuscan Water District would be that advocate for the whole area.  However a handful of farming families own the majority of the land in the district, and opponents think they could stack the district’s board of directors to the detriment of the others. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Proposed north Butte County water district stirring controversy

Butte Water Commission backs water district proposal

A proposed water district in northwestern Butte County Wednesday won a split-vote endorsement from the Butte County Water Commission, after a lengthy public hearing.  The commission voted 6-3 to recommend the Board of Supervisors support formation of the Tuscan Water District.  Even though the vote was just advisory, there were two hours of public comment. When the supervisors take up the matter Sept. 14, their action will also just be advisory, as the Local Agency Formation Commission is the entity that will determine whether the district is formed. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here: Butte Water Commission backs water district proposal

Cosumnes subbasin draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan available for public review

A 20-year plan that will govern how people in south Sacramento County and parts of Amador County use groundwater and pay to sustain its availability has been released for public review and comment. Comments are due October 20, 2021.The plan includes broad-based fees on wells and water usage, with the largest portion of the funds generated earmarked for projects that are designed to increase the availability of groundwater in the future.  The draft Cosumnes Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is a state-mandated plan for achieving sustainable management of groundwater use in the southeastern portion of Sacramento County and parts of Amador County. … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger-Dispatch here: Cosumnes subbasin draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan available for public review

Cooperation, not opposition, is key to solving California’s groundwater management

Merced County supervisor Daron McDaniel and Calavaras County supervisor Jack Garamendi write, “Once again, we find ourselves in a drought and running out of water.  For the second time in the past decade, we are enduring another frustrating and uncertain period, asking how we will sustain the citizens of California as well as the agriculture that feeds the world.  Drought is not new to California and we have engineered one of the most comprehensive and complex systems on the planet to water our crops and people. What has changed is that the investments our grandparents made that allowed our state to bloom are now deteriorating, our water storage is inadequate, and we are woefully behind in managing the vast, but declining aquifer that runs throughout our state. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Cooperation, not opposition, is key to solving California’s groundwater management

Madera County residents and farmers face groundwater challenge of a lifetime

Madera County is running out of time as groundwater levels plummet to new depths.  Wells are going dry everywhere. Drillers have months-long waitlists. Residents are scrambling for water tanks. And farmers will soon face a reckoning after agriculture’s footprint, particularly nut trees, has more than doubled in the past 50 years — far outpacing irrigation supplies.  There’s growing consensus among farmers, county officials and residents that Madera’s groundwater problem will be solved mainly by cutting water demand, not by waiting for more dams to be built or even recharging excess water into the aquifer. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Madera County residents and farmers face groundwater challenge of a lifetime

Madera commentary: Is anyone listening?

Tom Willey with T&D Willey Farms writes, “One courageous voice in our community has been sounding the alarm that our precious aquifer, lifeblood of our economy, households, and public facilities, is in imminent collapse. For the better part of this year, Matt Angell, managing partner of Madera Pumps Inc., has been reeling his video camera down failing wells across the county, stunned by the unprecedented conditions he is witnessing. Plunging water levels, well casings crushed and split like beer cans, and good wells reduced to a trickle of their recent selves, have Matt sounding the cry that our community must respond in equal measure to the challenge before us. We are not. Is anyone listening? … ”  Continue reading at the Madera Tribune here: Madera commentary: Is anyone listening?

Some Monterey County growers are risking a fragile resource to survive the drought.

In the midst of a widespread drought, Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento, critically important reservoirs for Monterey County, are at their lowest capacity levels since 2017. When the lakes get low, the ability to get enough water to some agricultural growers gets complicated. Add politics and Covid to the mix and you get the scramble underway between the region’s sewage agency, the city of Salinas and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to deliver water to thousands of acres of crops and protect a fragile underground water supply. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Weekly here: Some Monterey County growers are risking a fragile resource to survive the drought.

Edna Valley farmers, residents, and water companies collaborate on plan to stabilize groundwater basin

Water wells in the Edna Valley used to be shallow: “You could put a well to 30 or 40 feet. Well that’s just kind of unrealistic [now],” Edna Valley Growers Mutual Company President Bob Schiebelhut said.  Some of those shallow wells didn’t make it through the last drought, drying up and forcing landowners to drill a little deeper. Now in a new drought, Edna Valley farmers and residents are once again praying for rain, Schiebelhut said. But they’re also moving forward with SLO County and the city of SLO on a plan to make their groundwater more drought resilient. The 30-day comment period on a draft of that plan—which covers approximately 20 square miles from the city of San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly to Lopez Reservoir just before Orcutt Road meets Lopez Drive—ends on Sept. 19. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: Edna Valley farmers, residents, and water companies collaborate on plan to stabilize groundwater basin

SLO County develops tools to sell, transfer, and exchange state water

Fifth District SLO County Supervisor Debbie Arnold’s concerns about groundwater banking persist as the county takes steps to enable more flexibility for its unused State Water Project water.  “I’ve been pretty clear all along, I don’t want to ever see our basins here in the county be used for groundwater banks at all, especially with state water,” Arnold said during the Aug. 24 Board of Supervisors meeting. “If we have excess state water, I think we start to concentrate—where we build the infrastructure to put it in above ground storage like Lopez [Lake], so that people in our county can use it. … But not groundwater banking.” … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County develops tools to sell, transfer, and exchange state water

Cuyama Valley groundwater basin joins growing list of post-SGMA comprehensive groundwater adjudications

Facing depleting groundwater supplies, a group of landowners in the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin, which overlies parts of Ventura, Kern, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties, filed a complaint for a comprehensive adjudication of all the groundwater rights in the basin. In the wake of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Act (“SGMA”), which requires regulation of groundwater for long-term sustainability, and as drought affects water supplies throughout California, a growing number of adjudications are being filed under the Comprehensive Groundwater Adjudication Statute, California Code of Civil Procedure sections 830 et seq. This is the fifth such adjudication filed since 2015, when the California Legislature revised the process for comprehensive groundwater adjudications. These adjudications resolve all water rights in a given groundwater basin. … ”  Read more from O’Melveny here: Cuyama Valley groundwater basin joins growing list of post-SGMA comprehensive groundwater adjudications

Groundwater storage increases for local Chino Basin rights holders

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge today ruled that local agencies that pump water from the Chino Basin can store and access an additional six-month supply of groundwater, providing significant benefit for 1.5 million people across Inland Southern California.  The ruling by Judge Stanford Reichert on this single element of the Chino Basin Optimum Basin Management Program (OBMP) means water providers in the region can retain use of the stockpiled groundwater, worth about $50 million, and have room for more. The Chino Basin Watermaster Board of Directors and staff and the cooperating agencies worked together to craft this solution over the course of several years. … ”  Read more from ACWA Water News here: Groundwater storage increases for local Chino Basin rights holders

SGMA in the News

A drought-hit US town finds itself sinking into the ground

You’ve got too many farmers pumping all around,” complained Raul Atilano. This octogenarian resident of Corcoran, the self-proclaimed farming capital of California, was struggling to make sense of the strangest of phenomena: his already suffering town is sinking, ever so gradually, into the ground.  A constant stream of trucks carrying tomatoes, alfalfa or cotton outside this town of 20,000 shows just how inextricably Corcoran’s fate is tied to the intensive farming practiced here.  To irrigate its vast fields and help feed America, farm operators began in the last century to pump water from underground sources, so much so that the ground has begun to sink — imagine a series of giant straws sucking up groundwater faster than rain can replenish it, as hydrologist Anne Senter explained it to AFP. … ”  Read more from NDTV here: A drought-hit US town finds itself sinking into the ground 

 

Tracy: Plan affecting groundwater wells up for review

The status of the groundwater aquifer around Tracy will be up for review in the coming months, with an online forum next week the public’s chance to talk about how use of that aquifer could affect local groundwater wells in and around Tracy. … The Tracy Subbasin – a 345,000-acre area with the San Joaquin River on the eastern boundary and Old River to the west, extending north to Mandeville Island – includes the City of Tracy, is considered a medium priority “non-critically overdrafted” basin, meaning that the groundwater sustainability plan for the subbasin must be completed by the end of January 2022. … ”  Read more from the Tracy Press here:  Plan affecting groundwater wells up for review

Flood irrigation: It keeps water flowing to homes in Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, & elsewhere in water basin

Head into the countryside outside of Manteca and Ripon and you will come across a sight that you might view as insanity given the severe drought.  There are literally hundreds if not thousands of acres of almond orchards and other cropland being flood irrigated.  What looks like a waste of water is actually helping keep water flowing to your home to wash clothes, drink, flush toilets, shower or bathe, and wash dishes and such if you live in Manteca, Ripon, Stockton, Lathrop, Escalon and Lodi. … ”  Read more from the Manteca Bulletin here: Flood irrigation: It keeps water flowing to homes in Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop, & elsewhere in water basin

Monterey Peninsula well failed, allowing saltier water to mix with drinking water

Monterey Peninsula water officials are breathing a sigh of relief after a monitoring well in the Seaside Basin picked up increased salt levels, prompting concerns that an underground reservoir of potable water was being infiltrated by seawater.  But it turned out the salts were from a failed well casing that allowed saltier shallow water from the Dune Sands to enter into the well and cross-contaminate the deeper body of water called the Paso Robles Aquifer that is tapped for drinking water. That aquifer can be thought of as a layer of water within the Seaside Basin. ... ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Monterey Peninsula well failed, allowing saltier water to mix with drinking water

Ridgecrest: Court backs IWVGA in battle over replenishment fees

Two motions to block the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s groundwater replenishment fee were shot down in court this week.  Judge Kirk H. Nakamura of Orange County Superior Court granted motions filed by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority to dismiss two separate actions filed by Searles Valley Minerals and Mojave Pistachios. The actions were aimed at stopping the collection of the groundwater replenishment fee, which was imposed last January to fund the cost of securing rights to water to bring to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Court backs IWVGA in battle over replenishment fees

SGMA in the news

How an integrated approach to water planning is helping the city of Roseville weather the drought with an eye toward the future

By now, it is clear that California is experiencing yet another severe drought. In the Sacramento region, Folsom Lake — the city of Roseville’s primary water supply source — has dropped to levels not seen since 1977.  Understanding the drought’s swift toll on the environment, the Regional Water Authority (RWA), which represents water providers serving two million people in the Sacramento region, asked members to start using more groundwater and take other actions to reduce reliance on local lakes and rivers.  The city of Roseville responded almost immediately, thanks to its innovative approach to water supply planning called Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and its partnership with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). … ”  Read more from Western City Magazine here: How an integrated approach to water planning is helping the city of Roseville weather the drought with an eye toward the future

Receding Sonoma Valley aquifers could prompt big changes in how wells are used

There’s likely a vast, unseen reservoir beneath your feet, built by centuries of rain percolating through the earth. Problem is, it’s not limitless. In the Sonoma Valley, one of the county’s three basins, that invisible supply has sunk 10 feet in two years.  In a webinar held Wednesday evening, officials with the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency—an entity created under California’s recent groundwater law said there are concerns beyond supply and demand. Arsenic, nitrate and boron have been detected., along with chloride, a marker for saltwater. Since 1970, officials estimate, the aquifer has lost 14,000 acre-feet, as wells pump faster than nature can replenish. That’s equivalent to more than a tenth of Lake Mendocino’s capacity. And also prompting salty, brackish water from San Francisco Bay, to seep in. … ”  Read more from Northern California Public Media here: Receding Sonoma Valley aquifers could prompt big changes in how wells are used

Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency works toward long-term drought solutions

In 1983, a group of local farmers looking for ways to manage the Pajaro Valley’s groundwater basin formed the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PVWMA). A year later, the agency was officially recognized by the state legislature, who tasked them to stop groundwater overdraft and seawater intrusion in the valley—all while preserving the vital agricultural industry.  Now, as the state of California struggles with a severe, ongoing drought, PVWMA’s work has seeped into the community’s consciousness. Marcus Mendiola, the agency’s water conservation and outreach specialist, says that more and more people—government officials, the media, individual residents—have been reaching out to them, asking what can be done to save water.  “Everyone is thinking very short term—they’re thinking, ‘It’s dry right now.’ And that’s a common human experience,” Mendiola said. “But this is a long-term problem. We have been focused on this since 1983. Our mission during these extreme drought periods is only further reinforced.” ... ”  Read more from Good Times here:  Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency works toward long-term drought solutions

SEE ALSO: Video: Unique collaboration in Santa Cruz County looking to replenish critically over drafted basin, from Channel 8

Monterey: A crucial water source for agriculture has been overdrafted for decades. A new plan aims to fix that.

In Monterey County, water is a scarce resource. This is an obvious statement to locals who see how rarely water falls from the sky and how depleted streams and rivers can become in drought years. Less obvious is the health of the water pumped out of the ground through wells connected to subterranean lakes and streams known as aquifers. These aquifers provide drinking water to some residents and offer a lifeline to the multi-billion-dollar agriculture industry that fuels the local economy.  Decades of over-pumping have threatened the health of one local group of aquifers, known as the 180/400 foot aquifer subbasin. Water has been pumped out of these aquifers faster than they can recharge. … ”  Read more from Monterey Weekly here: A crucial water source for agriculture has been overdrafted for decades. A new plan aims to fix that.

Wells are failing in southeastern Madera County. What to know about the water situation

On Sunday evening, a well motor failed in a Madera Ranchos community water system that serves around 1,000 homes.  Last week, another well pump stopped working in Parksdale, southeast of Madera.  Neither community has lost water service. Both are experiencing low pressure.  Madera County Public Works runs both water systems.  From Madera Acres to the Bonadelle Ranchos, private wells are running dry at an alarming rate. Self-Help Enterprises, an organization that supports communities with water challenges, has been tracking the problem.  They have now delivered water tanks to more than 200 households in the county.  “It’s a hot spot,” said Tami McVay of Self-Help Enterprises. “During the last drought, Tulare County was overwhelmed. But now, Madera County is getting hit the worst this time.” … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Wells are failing in southeastern Madera County. What to know about the water situation

State still hasn’t fixed Porterville drinking water crisis from the last drought. Will residents go dry again?

The epicenter of dry wells during California’s last devastating drought was undoubtedly Porterville. The small Tulare County town saw wells go dry enmasse in its unincorporated east side. It became a national headline as the media descended.  Amid the glare of tv cameras, the state pledged to help and agreed to build three new wells.  Five years have gone by, the state is in the grip of another drought and Porterville is walking a tightrope as the state connected more than 755 new homes to the city’s water system but only built one new well.  “We wish those three wells were done,” said John Lollis, City Manager of Porterville. “It would make this summer much more bearable.” ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  State still hasn’t fixed Porterville drinking water crisis from the last drought. Will residents go dry again?

East Orosi one step closer to clean water as Tulare County moves to become administrator

East Orosi is one step closer to achieving clean drinking water, a basic human right that is denied to many of California’s disadvantaged communities, particularly in the rural San Joaquin Valley.  Last Tuesday, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to take steps to become the manager of the small agricultural community’s water board. That means the town of about 500 will soon have the financial resources and technical know-how to gain clean water.  “It’s very unacceptable, especially in 2021, that these communities in our own state have to deal and suffer from this inequity,” said Supervisor Eddie Valero, who represents East Orosi. “If there is any time where this possible the time is now because of the [state’s] emphasis on water.” … ”  Read more from the Visalia Times-Delta here: East Orosi one step closer to clean water as Tulare County moves to become administrator

State finds deficiencies in Paso and Cuyama basin plans

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) published its first reviews of local groundwater sustainability plans as part of a 2014 state law regulating groundwater—and two Central Coast aquifers are included in the initial wave of feedback.  DWR reviewed and found “deficiencies” in the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin and Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin sustainability plans—declining to give final approval to either.  In separate letters about the basins, DWR identified issues ranging from a lack of discussion about impacts to shallow and domestic wells, to a lack of planning for surface waters, like creeks and rivers. Six points of deficiencies were listed in all—two for Paso and four for Cuyama. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: State finds deficiencies in Paso and Cuyama basin plans 

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