Groundwater recharge in the SGMA era

Kathleen Miller writes,

“Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was always going to be tricky. Part of the necessary growing pains of SGMA is determining how the revolutionary statute interacts with traditional tenets of water law.   As with any other sweeping legislative change, SGMA does not provide direct answers for every practical question which arises as the law is put into place.

Take SGMA’s so called “six deadly sins” – the undesirable results that newly formed groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) are tasked with avoiding, running the gamut from seawater intrusion to subsidence. One of the ways to combat undesirable results is to implement a more robust groundwater recharge program – diverting high surface water flows during wet years (as we just experienced) to aquifers. In fact, we’ve begun to see innovative projects, such as Recharge Net Metering andFlood-MAR, sprout up in the wake of SGMA to do exactly that. But how do we get water for those projects in the first place? … ”

Read more from the Legal Planet blog here:  Groundwater recharge in the SGMA era

The Central Valley is sinking as farmers drill for water. But it can be saved, study says

A team of Stanford University researchers believe they have identified the best way to replenish the shrinking aquifers beneath California’s Central Valley.  The groundwater beneath the Central Valley has been steadily depleting, particularly as the state’s $50 billion agricultural industry relied on it during a series of droughts. Each year, more water exits the aquifer than goes into it. 

The study from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, published in the journal Water Resources Research, found that unless action is taken, the ground in that region will sink more than 13 feet over the next 20 years. … ”

Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  The Central Valley is sinking as farmers drill for water. But it can be saved, study says

Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater

“In California, the amount of water exiting aquifers under the state’s most productive farming region far surpasses the amount of water trickling back in. That rampant overdraft has caused land across much of the region to sink like a squeezed out sponge, permanently depleting groundwater storage capacity and damaging infrastructure.

The trend – and a 2014 mandate for sustainable groundwater management in the state – has ignited interest in replenishing aquifers in California’s Central Valley through managed flooding of the ground above them. … ”

Read more from Stanford News here:  Stanford study offers a way to map where flooded fields best replenish groundwater

Tehachapi: ‘It will change the way the city uses our water;’ City Council approves plan to study ways to increase groundwater supply

“City officials approved a plan for a new groundwater sustainability project, hoping it will be a solution to increase the supply of groundwater and find a place for excess effluent water coming to the Tehachapi Waste Water Treatment Plant. The benefits will not appear for decades, when the project is complete.

The Tehachapi City Council unanimously approved this second of five phases at its April 1 meeting. … ”

Read more from the Tehachapi News here:  Tehachapi: ‘It will change the way the city uses our water;’ City Council approves plan to study ways to increase groundwater supply

Sonoma: Focus is on wells as groundwater board does its research

“Parts of Sonoma Valley, particularly southeast of the city of Sonoma and in the El Verano/Fowler Creek areas, have seen a persistent decline in groundwater levels over the last decade – and it may be expanding. These chronic declines, based on data from the USGS and the Sonoma County Water Agency, indicate that groundwater withdrawals are occurring at a rate exceeding the rate of replenishment within the deeper aquifer zones of southern Sonoma Valley.

Saltwater intrusion is also threatening to compromise groundwater quality at Sonoma’s southernmost tip. … ”

Read more from The Kenwood Press here:  Sonoma: Focus is on wells as groundwater board does its research

Inside Santa Cruz’s environmentally friendly water recharge

“On a quiet industrial side street near 41st Avenue and Soquel Drive, the Santa Cruz Water Department has been quietly pumping millions of gallons of water through temporary PVC piping. Every minute, about 400 gallons flow past pressure gauges and shut-off valves into a 2-foot-high concrete box that marks the top of Beltz Well 12. If a pilot program goes well, this whole system could play a pivotal role in the water security of communities from Aptos to UCSC.

Normally, water is pumping out of this well, not into it. As part of the reversal process, engineers went into the well and removed column piping, which now lies in a pile under a plastic tarp off to the side. Two 35,000-gallon tanks sit empty. … ”

Read more from Good Times Santa Cruz here:  Inside Santa Cruz’s environmentally friendly water recharge

Newman: Groundwater recharge project shows encouraging results

“A pilot project banking groundwater in the Newman area is showing positive results.  The project is a joint effort of the Central California Irrigation District and the Del Puerto Water District, said Chris White, CCID general manager.

The site is located on 20 acres of property west of Eastin Road, within the Del Puerto Water District. … ”

Read more from Westside Connect here:  Newman: Groundwater recharge project shows encouraging results

California City OKs groundwater plan

“The City Council ap­proved a regional plan for managing the area’s ground­water resources, which brings a measure of local control and to qualify for state funds for water-re­lated projects.

The Fremont Basin In­te­grated Regional Water Plan has been in the works for at least four years, fill­ing in a hole in water plans in the area, as the sur­rounding groundwater basins already have plans in place. … ”

Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here:  California City OKs groundwater plan

Paso Robles groundwater committee seeks public input on supply projects, pumping fees

“North County political leaders responsible for the health of the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin are launching discussions about which multi-million-dollar water projects could help solve the aquifer’s woes—and how basin pumpers will pay for them.

In the future, the basin, which serves much of Paso Robles wine country, could start receiving water from the State Water Project, Lake Nacimiento, and/or the Salinas Dam. … ”

Read more from New Times SLO here:  Paso Robles groundwater committee seeks public input on supply projects, pumping fees

A winning approach for managing groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley

Alvar Escriva-Bou, Ellen Hanak, and Josué Medellín-Azuara write,

“The San Joaquin Valley is in a time of great change. Decades of groundwater overuse have caused drinking water and irrigation wells to go dry, increased the amount of energy required to pump water, harmed ecosystems, and reduced the reserves available to cope with future droughts.

Groundwater overdraft has also caused land to sink, damaging major regional infrastructure, including canals that deliver water across the state.  These problems spurred the enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local water users across California to bring groundwater use to sustainable levels by the early 2040s.

With California’s largest groundwater deficit, the San Joaquin Valley is ground zero for implementing SGMA. … ”

Read more from the PPIC blog here:  A winning approach for managing groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley