California regions submitted their first Groundwater Sustainability Plans in 2020. How did they do?

” … With support from the Water Foundation, a collaborative effort among California nonprofits and community groups has been leading statewide advocacy to ensure public agencies and elected officials implement the legislation fairly, effectively, and equitably.

This month, the group marked an important milestone.  Over the past year, researchers and advocates at Ag Innovations, Audubon California, Clean Water Fund, Local Government Commission, The Nature Conservancy, and Union of Concerned Scientists, among others, have been pouring over thousands upon thousands of pages of local groundwater sustainability plans.  While often hard to decipher and full of technical jargon, these plans reveal more about California’s groundwater health than we’ve ever seen publicly available before. …

Continue reading at the Water Foundation here:  California Regions Submitted Their First Groundwater Sustainability Plans in 2020. How Did They Do?

The Basin Characterization Model—A Regional Water Balance Software Package

This report documents the computer software package, Basin Characterization Model, version 8 (BCMv8)—a monthly, gridded, regional water-balance model—and provides detailed operational instructions and example applications. After several years of many applications and uses of a previous version, CA-BCM, published in 2014, the BCMv8 was refined to improve the accuracy of the water-balance components, particularly the recharge estimate, which is the most difficult to accurately assess.

The improvement of the various water-balance components targeted the actual evapotranspiration component, which, in turn, reduced the uncertainty of the recharge estimate. The improvement of this component was enabled by the availability of a national, gridded actual-evapotranspiration product from the U.S. Geological Survey that was unique in its scope to combine remotely sensed spatial variability and ground-based long-term water-balance constraints.

This dataset provided the ability to assess monthly actual evapotranspiration for 62 vegetation types and to perform regional calibration in watersheds throughout California with the objective of closing the water balance using improved estimates for each component. The refinements, including vegetation-specific evapotranspiration, enabled the development of applications that could explore various aspects of landscape disturbance, such as wildfire, forest management, or urbanization.

The improvements to BCMv8 also provided the ability to assess long-term sustainability of water resources under a variety of management applications or future climate projections.

For more information, click here.

GSA SUMMIT: Setting Sustainable Management Criteria: It’s easy, isn’t it?

The details of how a groundwater sustainability plan will be implemented are defined by the setting of sustainable management criteria (or SMC). With several undesirable results to consider, a range of technical analyses to perform, data gaps yet to be filled, and potentially conflicting stakeholder interests, the process to establish sustainable management criteria is often involved and challenging.

At the Groundwater Resources Association’s 3rd annual GSA Summit, a panel reviewed how the process went for the groundwater sustainability plans that were submitted to the Department of Water Resources earlier this year, focusing on four of the six sustainable management criteria: water levels, water quality, land subsidence, and interconnected surface waters.

Click here to read this article at Maven’s Notebook.

SGMA IMPLEMENTATION: Borrego Valley’s strategy for a negotiated resolution under SGMA

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.

Click here to read this article at Maven’s Notebook.

One area in California will tap regional planning to respond to the state’s groundwater law. Here’s how it could help farmers.

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.

Click here to read this report at EDF’s Growing Returns blog.

Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans

“With roughly two and a half months remaining before a state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires local groundwater sustainability agencies in critically overdrafted basins to submit their plans by next Jan. 31. The plans must describe how local agencies will achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040, and should include measurable objectives and milestones in five-year increments. … ”

Continue reading at Ag Alert by clicking here.

SGMA Update: List of San Joaquin Valley GSAs and GSPs

“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

Merced: Groundwater Sustainability Plan up for public review

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

Lessons learned from the State’s first Groundwater Sustainability Plan

“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

Exeter: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies still unsure over monitoring, nearing draft 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