California groundwater management, science-policy interfaces, and the legacies of artificial legal distinctions

Dave Owen and Michael Kiparsky write,

“One of the many noteworthy features of California’s  Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is that it requires local government agencies to consider and address the effects of groundwater management upon interconnected surface water. That requirement is an important step towards rationalizing California water management, which has long treated groundwater and surface water as separate resources.

The requirement also is part of a larger story about evolving science and policy in a changing world. … ”

Read more from the Legal Planet here: California groundwater management, science-policy interfaces, and the legacies of artificial legal distinctions

Mission Springs Water District representative: “We’ve been hijacked by Desert Water Agency”

“A report from a citizen advisory committee in Desert Hot Springs is asking lawmakers in Sacramento to “re-work” a state law, which went into effect in 2015, that allowed the Desert Water Agency in Palm Springs to take over management authority of the groundwater distributed by the Mission Springs Water District, to people living in Desert Hot Springs and surrounding areas.

That 2015 law, called the “Sustainable Groundwater Management Act” is designed to use local water agencies for the first time, to help the state control and account for the use of groundwater in California. … “

Read more from KESQ here:  Mission Springs Water District representative: “We’ve been hijacked by Desert Water Agency”

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority one step away from adding board seats

““Fast paced” and “Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meeting” have never appeared in the same sentence in the year-and-a-half since the Authority was formed. But, Thursday’s session was different, in large part due to the hours of wrangling, discussion and closed sessions that preceded it.

The board members approved agreements with entities’ staff and consulting services from Bob Harrington.

In addition, hold onto your hats, the board came to a consensus on how to allow additional board seats. The final vote will come at its May 23 meeting. So, it’s not a done deal, but it’s very close. … ”

Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley Groundwater Authority one step away from adding board seats

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority mulls budget

“After skipping its February meeting to figure out staffing, the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority had a chance to mull over its draft budget for this fiscal year.  This budget takes into consideration some unknowns when the initial budget was developed prior to the official formation of the Authority.

The biggest unknown was the grant application to cover the consultant’s cost to come up with a Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The OVGA got the grant and will now use member contributions to cover staff and other miscellaneous costs. … ”

Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley Groundwater Authority mulls budget

Update on Owens Valley Groundwater Authority

From the Sierra Wave:

“The scope of the Owens River basin’s sustainability plan became clearer following a presentation by DBS&A’s Tony Martin at last Thursday’s meeting of the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority.  The consulting firm’s tasks include compiling data, developing a timeline and stakeholder outreach plan and pulling together ecosystem data.

The key, it seems, is setting objectives (best case scenarios) and thresholds (worst case) with enough of a spread to keep the Authority from violating its own plan but still get the plan approved by the state Department of Water Resources.

According to Martin, the OVGA can set area-specific criteria, important in light of the diversity of the water demands on the basin. … “

Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Update on Owens Valley Groundwater Authority

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority seeks statements of interest

From the Sierra Wave:

“The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority is currently soliciting Statements of Interest from local individuals, entities or groups interested in participating as an “Interested Party,” which has a voting interest in the OVGA Board.

The OVGA was created to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requirement that local agencies sustainably manage groundwater in the Owens Valley Groundwater Basin. The basin includes the Owens, Round, Chalfant, Hammil, and Benton Valleys as well as Fish Slough. … ”

Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley Groundwater Authority seeks statements of interest

Kern County proposes walking away from groundwater management role it previously embraced

From Bakersfield.com:

“County government is considering pulling out of a coalition of local water agencies after failing to secure blanket immunity from lawsuits that could arise from efforts to rein in local groundwater pumping.

The proposal follows a written assurance by state water officials that the county’s withdrawal from the Kern Groundwater Authority will not, by itself, jeopardize local control of groundwater use across much of the area. Some local water agencies had worried it would. … “

Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  Kern County proposes walking away from groundwater management role it previously embraced

Report from the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meeting

From the Sierra Wave:

“As if Fred Stump didn’t make his position on specific groups joining the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board as voting members clear enough at last month’s meeting, the Mono County Supervisor doubled down Monday afternoon, objecting on ethical terms.

“This is an ethical issue,” he said at the end of a discussion on letters to be sent to potential associate members and interested parties in order to gauge interest. “I’m against votes for government agencies, businesses and special interest groups,” he said. “I want to take the decision on voting (privileges) back to our individual boards.” … ”

Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Report from the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meeting

Apparently, size matters to some on the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board

“Mutual water companies and environmental groups have been waiting a year to find out what their participation in the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority might look like. The question of Associate Members and Interested Parties was on last Thursday’s agenda, but potential members of either category may never get a seat at the table.

The Joint Powers Authority that set the guidelines for the formation of the Owens Valley basin’s groundwater sustainability agency spelled out participation of groups other than governmental agencies. It was complicated, but gave a voice to groups outside the immediate circle. … “

Read more from the Sierra Wave here:  Apparently, size matters to some on the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority board

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s light agenda features POAM, Prop 1 status

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

“The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets Thursday at 11 a.m. at Ridgecrest City Council council chambers, 100 W. California Ave.

The Groundwater Authority board will have a light agenda, including a report from Steve Johnson, the water resources manager and president of Stetson Engineers.  Johnson’s report will include discussion of the Groundwater Authority’s Plan of Action and Milestones, which serves as the agency’s roadmap in developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, as well as topics including the status of a Proposition 1 grant application, and updates on the pumping fee status and schedule. … ”

Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s light agenda features POAM, Prop 1 status