SGMA in the news

Groundwater sustainability moves from planning to implementation

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

Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency proposes groundwater extraction fee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carpenteria Valley Water District seeks drought proof supply

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

SGMA in the news

Feinstein bill would fix San Joaquin Valley canals

Western Growers has announced its support for legislation by California Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein that seeks to address severe subsidence impacts that have substantially reduced the carrying capacity of the state’s water delivery system.  Feinstein’s Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act would authorize $800 million in federal funding to repair critical canals in the San Joaquin Valley damaged by land sinking from overpumping of groundwater, known as subsidence, and for environmental restoration. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Feinstein bill would fix San Joaquin Valley canals

Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: What is IWVGA? An overview

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s notice of an upcoming public hearing on a basin replenishment fee has attracted a lot of attention from water users in the valley, but not everyone understands what the IWVGA is.  In a nutshell, the IWVGA is a body charged with balancing the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin (IWVGB). The key is achieving sustainability. This is similar to balancing a checkbook; the IWVGA has to come up with a way to balance the basin’s recharge with its annual outflow.  Here is where the problem begins: if the basin were a checkbook it would be severely overdrawn. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Groundwater in the Indian Wells Valley: What is IWVGA? An overview

Valley farmers look to Kern River tributary to replenish groundwater

A Kern County water agency is facing a wall of opposition against its plan to harvest up to 12,000 acre feet of water from the South Fork of the Kern River above Lake Isabella and bring it to valley farms and homeowners in northwest Bakersfield.  Mountain residents fear the proposal by Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District will dry up their groundwater and turn the area into another Owens Valley. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Valley farmers look to Kern River tributary to replenish groundwater

Groundwater sustainability is a necessity more than ever, says Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida with the Union of Concerned Scientists

He writes, “The immediate emergency of COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder that the most valuable things in our lives are our families, friends, and the welfare of our communities. The current pandemic is a threat to those closest to us today in a way that presages what we will experience on an accelerating basis due to the climate emergency. In a place like California’s San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Latinos account for 70 percent of COVID-19 cases, even though they represent 42 percent of the population. Improving access to clean and affordable water even as the pandemic grows more urgent, is critical to reducing the types of burdens worsened by the COVID-19 crisis. Continuing the hard work on groundwater sustainability required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) could lessen the impact of future crises in the valley. The low level of preparation communities have experienced around the pandemic, echos what these same communities face for water management on a daily basis and will face with future climate change threats unless fundamental changes are made locally. … ”  Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists here: Groundwater sustainability is a necessity more than ever

SGMA in the News

STATEWIDE

Farmers doing more with less need help from above:  “Joel Ackerknecht manages about 3,500 acres of land north and west of Bakersfield and south of Arvin for DM Camp and Sons, a more than 80-year-old Kern County farming operation that grows a variety of specialty crops, including wine grapes, nuts and sweet potatoes.  A combination of expanding global demand for California produce, stretched water resources, receding ground water levels and increasing government regulations caused Ackerknecht to search for ways to do more with less.  Ackerknecht turned his attention to the sky for help. ... ”  Read more the Bakersfield Californian here: Farmers doing more with less need help from above

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act enters crucial period:  “As Covid-19 and social unrest dominates news headlines, another problem beneath Central Valley residents’ feet is coming to surface. This was the first year plans had to be submitted for many irrigation districts through the state of California as part of 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  Sustainability plans developed by groundwater sustainability agencies (GSA) outline how water users can restore depleted water sources. But fights have arisen and disputes about the reliability of those water sources have come to light. … ”  Read more from The Business Journal here: Landmark groundwater act enters a crucial period

New study finds media coverage could discourage many from guiding groundwater use:  “Superficial media coverage of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) could discourage democratic engagement on resource-management issues by having focused on relatively few stakeholders, a new study from UC Merced shows.  Because water is essential to everyone, all have a stake in how groundwater is managed., Media reports published from January 2014 to April 2019 about the SGMA, however, tended to be simplistic, presenting only one stakeholder instead of considering holistic management, the study’s authors said.  Media coverage portrayed stakeholders as limited to major economic interests, such as agriculture, the study found. … ”  Read more from UC Merced here: New study finds media coverage could discourage many from guiding groundwater use

Report: California groundwater sustainability plans are inadequate:  “Though California has allocated billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bonds to clean up its drinking water and make it more available, one report says it is not working. Even with implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) under way, upwards of 12,000 drinking wells may go dry by 2040, causing over 120,000 people to lose their primary source of water.  The grim report by the Water Foundation, a charitable organization based in California that is focused on clean, reliable water for people and nature, predicts the groundwater sustainability plans written by the various districts in the San Joaquin Valley will not achieve what SGMA purports to do – that is, sustainably manage groundwater resources. … ”  Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Report: California groundwater sustainability plans are inadequate

REGIONAL STORIES

Sonoma County workshops provide residents an opportunity to share groundwater concerns:  “Sonoma County’s three groundwater sustainability agencies are holding “virtual” community workshops in July. The meetings are an opportunity for well owners, farmers and others in Petaluma Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain to learn about groundwater in these basins and to help define local, sustainable groundwater management. … ”  Read more from Patch here: Sonoma County workshops provide residents an opportunity to share groundwater concerns

Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners:  “After seven years of water restrictions over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, San Luis Obispo County is redrawing the basin’s boundaries, which will subject hundreds of new property owners to a moratorium on irrigating and other rules.   The revised map is part of a package of changes to the county ordinance that regulates the 684-square-mile aquifer in North County. Passed in 2013 amid an ongoing drought, the ordinance was recently extended to 2022 to buy time for the Paso Groundwater Sustainability Plan—which is currently being reviewed by the state—to get implemented. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners

West Valley Water District joins Regional Groundwater Council:  “On behalf of the San Bernardino Basin area Groundwater Council, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District (SBVMWD) announced that the West Valley Water District (WVWD) will join the basin area council.  The San Bernardino Valley has experienced historically low rainfall over the past 20 years, resulting in ongoing and sustained drought. This has resulted in groundwater storage levels in the San Bernardino Basin being at a historic low. Due to our tendency to long periods of drought, ensuring water supply reliability and long-term groundwater sustainability is even more important in this region. ... ”  Read more from the Community News here: West Valley Water District joins Regional Groundwater Council

Ventura County: Completed project for groundwater recharge captures stormwater:  “According to the state, this year is the 11th driest snowpack on record since 1950 and with the State Water Project announcing it will deliver only 20% of requested water supplies in 2020, projects like the Piru Stormwater Capture for Groundwater Recharge Project are critical to Ventura County’s important water supplies. This project will provide a sustainable source for recharge of the Piru Groundwater Basin and improve water quality in Piru Creek. ... ” Read more from The Patch here:  Completed project for groundwater recharge captures stormwater

SGMA in the News

Farmland values hinge on future water availability:  “Availability of water and the impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act continue to be a main focus when California agricultural appraisers determine land values, particularly in water-short regions.  During a business conference held virtually last week, the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers also touched on other issues affecting land values, including supply-and-demand dynamics for various crops and market conditions, especially under COVID-19. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: Farmland values hinge on future water availability

Dairy’s shrinking water footprint: a key piece of the SGMA puzzle:  “The implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and other anticipated water restrictions pose major challenges for California agriculture. Without effective solutions, economists have estimated that up to one million acres of farmland will be fallowed, resulting in a revenue loss of $7.2 billion per year. As the state’s top agricultural commodity, dairy farming is an important part of the SGMA challenge. Fortunately, dairy farmers have an excellent track record for water savings and are continuing to adopt innovative strategies to advance environmental sustainability and help meet the water conservation challenges ahead. … ”  Read more from Water Wrights here: Dairy’s shrinking water footprint: a key piece of the SGMA puzzle

Sacramento region plans to store water underground as a climate change adaptation strategy:  “The Sacramento region is preparing for the long term impacts of the climate crisis when it comes to water supply. Central to the plan is a groundwater storage program with two to three times the space of Folsom Lake.  As the climate warms it’ll likely become harder to fill up reservoirs, because the snowpack could be small for multiple years. Think of the nearly empty reservoirs across California during the most recent drought.  “We’re expecting in the future to have more severe droughts and potential for Folsom Reservoir to not fill up with the frequency that it does,” said James Peifer, executive director of the Regional Water Authority.  ... ” Read more from Capital Public Radio here:  Sacramento region plans to store water underground as a climate change adaptation strategy

Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners:  “After seven years of water restrictions over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, San Luis Obispo County is redrawing the basin’s boundaries, which will subject hundreds of new property owners to a moratorium on irrigating and other rules.   The revised map is part of a package of changes to the county ordinance that regulates the 684-square-mile aquifer in North County. Passed in 2013 amid an ongoing drought, the ordinance was recently extended to 2022 to buy time for the Paso Groundwater Sustainability Plan—which is currently being reviewed by the state—to get implemented. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here:  Proposed changes to Paso Robles Groundwater Basin boundaries draw anger and skepticism from landowners

Fillmore: Groundwater recharge capturing project completed:  “According to the state, this year is the 11th driest snowpack on record since 1950 and with the State Water Project announcing it will deliver only 20% of requested water supplies in 2020, projects like the Piru Stormwater Capture for Groundwater Recharge Project are critical to Ventura County’s important water supplies. This project will provide a sustainable source for recharge of the Piru Groundwater Basin and improve water quality in Piru Creek. … ”  Read more from the Fillmore Gazette here: Groundwater recharge capturing project completed