Dispute Resolution Processes: Thinking through SGMA Implementation

Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is critical for a sustainable water future.

However recent analysis conducted by Water in the West, the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis suggests that alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even when included in water management agreements.

Given the long and expensive history associated with litigation in California and beyond, these findings suggest that local and state agencies should be doing more to educate their members on the value of alternative dispute resolution processes, like mediation and facilitation.

Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here: Dispute Resolution Processes: Thinking through SGMA Implementation

Groundwater Governance Q&A with Anita Milman

An expert in water governance, Anita Milman’s research focuses on understanding the interplay of technical, institutional and social dimensions of water within governance processes. Milman is an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Program on Water in the West (WitW). Below, Milman discusses keys to successful groundwater governance, implications toward achieving water security and her research activities at Stanford.

Q: The UN and other agencies have called water ‘a crisis of governance’ – what does this mean?

A: Today’s water challenges arise from interactions between the physical aspects of water systems and human activities. Flooding, drought, groundwater depletion, water quality degradation, etc. negatively impact human and ecological systems. Yet, these conditions are frequently either caused by or exacerbated by actions taken by humans.

In essence, water governance defines and determines how humans use and manage water resource systems. …

Continue reading at Water in the West here: Groundwater Governance Q&A with Anita Milman

License to pump: New web portal examines, compares and explains the permitting process of groundwater pumping across seven U.S. states:

“Overpumping groundwater poses a major threat to the availability of a critical resource, especially in the arid lands of the Southwestern United States. States across the region have sought to deal with this issue through a wide variety of regulations and permitting processes.

A new dashboard tool, created by affiliates from Stanford’s Water in the West program, compares groundwater withdrawal permitting – a common tool used by resource managers to limit groundwater pumping – to help plan for a more sustainable future.

“Western states have adopted a wide range of approaches towards regulating groundwater pumping, but information about these approaches are not always shared across the region. Our goal is to help parties in different states learn from what is happening elsewhere. This is particularly important in California, where local agencies are working to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West and a dashboard contributor. … ”

Continue reading at Water in the West here:  License to pump: New web portal examines, compares and explains the permitting process of groundwater pumping across seven U.S. states

SLO County set to extend Paso Robles groundwater restrictions

 “A 6-year-old county policy requiring farmers with new crops over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin to offset their water use is poised for another extension.  San Luis Obispo County officials are concerned about a looming “gap” in regulation over the 780-square-mile basin, which has struggled in recent years with development and drought.

First adopted in 2013 amid drying wells over the basin, the county offset ordinance put a theoretical moratorium on agricultural pumping. … ”

Read more from New Times San Luis Obispo here: SLO County set to extend Paso Robles groundwater restrictions

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