Presentation at the California Irrigation Institute conference highlights this critically-overdrafted basin’s creative approach to meeting the requirements of SGMA
The Borrego Valley is a small valley in the northeastern part of San Diego County, about 60 miles northeast of San Diego. Groundwater is the sole source of water supply for the valley; there isn’t any surface water or imported water available. After decades of excessive pumping, the Borrego Groundwater Basin is considered critically-over drafted and dramatic reductions in pumping – up to 70% by the latest estimate – will be needed to reach sustainability.
The town of Borrego Springs is small – about 3500 folks. Tourism is a major industry in for the area, which is a popular destination in the winter months for ‘snow birds’ coming from colder climates to enjoy the mild temperatures. Borrego Valley has four public golf courses, a tennis center, and horseback riding, as well as being surrounded by the Anza-Borrego State Park. About 30% of the land use is agriculture, mainly tree and citrus farms.
After the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, the Borrego Valley GSA was formed and work began on the development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan with the goal of meeting the January 30, 2020 deadline for critically-drafted basins to develop and adopt a GSP. However, unable to reach agreement, the basin has decided to take a different route to meet the requirements of SGMA.
At the 2020 California Irrigation Institute conference held in January of this year, Michele Staples, a shareholder in the Irvine office of Jackson Tidus, gave a presentation on the creative way the basin came up with complying and implementing SGMA.
Now that critically overdrafted groundwater basins in the Central Valley have submitted their sustainability plans, the hard work begins for them to balance groundwater supply and demand in ways that minimize economic disruption.
A state program called Regional Conservation Investment Strategies (RCIS) can help.
RCIS wasn’t created to help groundwater basins comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Rather, it was established in 2016 as a framework for regions to prioritize and develop measurable habitat conservation outcomes including those needed to adapt to climate change.
This week, however, the Kaweah Subbasin was awarded $515,000 from the state’s Wildlife Conservation Board to develop an RCIS plan, becoming the first region in the Central Valley to leverage the process in response to SGMA.
“SGMA uses Department of Water Resources Bulletin 118 to define basins and sub basins and assign them numbers. The San Joaquin Valley Basin is number 5-22.
Within it are sub basins with their numbers following a decimal. Each sub basin one Groundwater Sustainability Agency or several, but DWR will only recognize one representative GSA per sub basin.
Each GSA must develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan on its own or as a contribution to an overarching GSP as again, DWR will only deal with one GSP per sub basin. … ”
Continue reading at Cal Ag Today here: SGMA Update: List of SGMA GSAs and GSPs
“Over the past 18 months, the three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in the Merced Subbasin have worked together to develop a Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) that is now available for public review and comment.
The three GSAs are as follows: Merced Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MSGSA), Merced Irrigation-Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MIUGSA), and Turner Island Groundwater Sustainability Agency (TIWDGSA-1). … ”
Read more from the Merced Times here: Merced: Groundwater Sustainability Plan up for public review
“All eyes were on the Borrego Valley this spring, and not just for their second “super bloom” in two years.
The Borrego Valley GSA is the first in the state to release a full draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan; a new management framework required under 2014 legislation. Many are looking to the Borrego Valley GSP as a test case for the other 138 agencies currently drafting their plans, and the many stakeholders anxiously awaiting those plans. … ”
Continue reading from the Local Government Commission’s Livable Places newsletter here: Lessons Learned from the State’s first Groundwater Sustainability Plan
“Measuring the water beneath our feet takes technology that looks out of this world, and pictures that actually are. As the deadline for sustainable groundwater plans draws near agencies in charge are looking to NASA, foreign governments and top universities to figure out how much groundwater we have and how much we can use.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in 2014, it has been a mad dash to identify what is sustaabinle. Five years later, Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (Greater Kaweah) general manager, Eric Osterling says that things are getting clearer as their Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) comes into focus. … ”
Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here: Exeter: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies still unsure over monitoring, nearing draft sustainability plan
“The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors meets Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Ridgecrest City Council Chambers at Ridgecrest City Hall, 100 W. California Ave.
The board will hear an update from Steve Johnson, president of Stetson Engineers and the Water Resources Manager on the Plan of Action and Milestones, which outlines progress made on the IWVGA’s mandate to create a groundwater sustainability plan for the IWV basin. … ”
Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board meets Thursday
“The Indian Wells Valley Water District took some time during its board meeting Monday night to discuss the Groundwater Authority’s feelings on the approaching deadline for the groundwater sustainability plan while giving general updates on public outreach and bulk water station upgrades.
During a meeting last week, the Groundwater Authority’s policy advisory committee expressed concern with the timing of the completion of the GSP — due to the state by the end of January 2020. … ”
Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Water District talks GSP, updates on improvements
“Officials from North County’s two water districts vented frustrations about the latest draft of a Paso Robles Groundwater Basin sustainability plan at a joint meeting held at J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines on March 19, calling its target for a 29 percent reduction in basin pumping unreasonable and economically dangerous.
The districts—Shandon-San Juan Water District and Estrella-El Pomar-Creston Water District—represent some of the biggest agricultural players in the North County and more than 150,000 acres of land. … ”
Read more from New Times San Luis Obispo here: North County water districts unhappy with direction of Paso basin plan