Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey

“The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 represents a historic transition to collective groundwater resource management and has the potential to significantly reduce groundwater overdraft in California. A total of 260 groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) recently formed to collectively manage groundwater resources in the 127 high and medium priority groundwater basins of the state.

The simultaneous formation of hundreds of new governing agencies is an unprecedented institutional effort with very few examples to learn from. As GSAs move towards the design and deliberation of their groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs), assessments on the process up until now can directly inform development processes that are still taking place. … ” 

Read more from UC Davis here: Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey

Challenges and opportunities for integrating small and rural drinking water stakeholders in SGMA implementation

Kristin Dobbin, Jessica Mendoza and Michael Kuo write,

“The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is an historic opportunity to achieve long-term sustainable groundwater management and protect drinking water supplies for hundreds of small and rural low-income communities, especially in the San Joaquin Valley.

Past research indicates that few of these communities are represented in the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) formed to implement the new law. This raises questions about the extent such communities are involved in groundwater reform and potential concerns about how small and rural drinking-water interests are being incorporated into Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). … ”

Read more from the California Water Blog here: Challenges and opportunities for integrating small and rural drinking water stakeholders in SGMA implementation

CALIFORNIA WATER POLICY CONFERENCE: Tribal Groundwater Rights and SGMA: A New Underlying Tension?

Pauma Valley, North San Diego County. Photo by Michael Huey.

Panel discussion moderated by DWR Tribal Advisor Anecita Agustinez discusses tribal involvement in GSAs, the benefits of tribal participation in groundwater management, and tribal consultation

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (or SGMA), passed in 2014, set a course for sustainable management of the state’s groundwater aquifers by requiring Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) be formed for all high and medium priority basins in the state who then must develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

The legislation provides that tribes “may voluntarily agree to participate in the preparation or administration of a groundwater sustainability plan” and are “eligible to participate fully in planning, financing, and management” – the first time this has been recognized in state law.  However, participation by tribes is voluntary; tribes are considered sovereign entities and their participation cannot be compelled.

Nonetheless, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires engagement with all stakeholders. Tribal interests are an important stakeholder in many basins, but most of the basins underlying tribal lands are exempt from SGMA as a consequence of relatively low intensity use of the groundwater. However, in those basins that are subject to SGMA that have tribal lands, the recent Aqua Caliente court decisions have put tribal interests front and center. What are the challenges for the tribes and non-tribe stakeholders in coming together to implement SGMA? Are tribal interests different than those of other stakeholders? How are financial inequities, if they exist, addressed?

At the 28th California Water Policy conference held in April of 2019, a panel discussed how tribal lands and tribal representatives, as independent nations, can be integrated into SGMA implementation, what some of the obstacles to doing so are, and how those hurdles might be transcended.

Seated on the panel:

The panel was moderated by Anecita Agustinez, Tribal Policy Advisor for the California Department of Water Resources.

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

DWR SGMA Newsletter: Draft basin prioritization for modified basins, Survey for next GSA Forum, Stakeholder engagement resources, and more …

DWR Announces Draft Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced the draft results of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) 2019 Basin Prioritization Phase 2 for the 57 modified basins affected by the 2018 Basin Boundary Modifications. Today’s announcement begins a 30-day public comment period to allow input from the public and local agencies. DWR will also hold a public meeting to explain the results and accept public comment.

Updated Frequently Asked Questions on Basin Prioritization

Answers to frequently asked questions are provided in the Frequently Asked Questions on Basin Prioritization document.

Public Comment

A public comment period on SGMA 2019 Basin Prioritization Phase 2 Draft results for modified basins is open now through May 30, 2019. All public comments received through the process will be reviewed and evaluated.

Submit public comments.

Public Meeting

Public comments can also be provided at the following public meeting:  Draft SGMA Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins Public Meeting

Monday, May 13, 2019, at 1 p.m.
Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board
11020 Sun Center Drive, Suite 200
Rancho Cordova, CA


Live webcast: On meeting day, click the link and scroll to “DWR Draft Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins Meeting.” You can view live video or listen to live audio.

RSVP: The meeting is free, but please let us know if you will be attending in person so we can have enough materials.

For questions, email

NEW Take a Survey to Help Plan the Next GSA Forum

DWR hosted a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Forum on March 21, 2019, which brought together water planners and stakeholders from across the state to share experiences and strategies as they implement the SGMA. Based on the level of interest and comments received from attendees, the forum was a beneficial venue for building networks and sharing strategies associated with SGMA implementation. DWR plans to host additional GSA Forums to further communication among SGMA water managers and stakeholders. Please complete the survey so we can use your input to help plan and improve the next GSA Forum:

Take the GSA Forum Survey.

NEW DWR Releases IRWM Implementation Grants Proposal Solicitation Package

DWR released the final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) for the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Program, which provides funding for projects that help meet the long-term water needs of the state and incorporate integrated regional strategies. Approximately $222.3 million in Proposition 1 grant funding is available for IRWM implementation projects, with $23.6 million designated for projects that provide support to Disadvantaged Communities. GSAs and SGMA stakeholders interested in IRWM Implementation funding should coordinate with their respective IRWM Region. For more information, visit the IRWM Implementation Grant Program page.

NEW State Water Resources Control Board Fact Sheets Available

The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced the release of new and updated fact sheets on SGMA which include Probationary Designation and Groundwater Regulation by the State Water Board, Stakeholder Inclusion, State and Regional Water Boards basics, Funding Opportunities for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, and Beneficial Use and Underground Water Storage Projects. These fact sheets can be found on the SWRCB’s SGMA webpage.

REMINDER DWR’s Guidance Documents Can Help with SGMA Communication and Engagement

SGMA requires GSAs to consider all beneficial uses and users when preparing groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). DWR has documents that provide clarification, guidance, and examples to help GSAs develop the essential communication and engagement elements of a GSP. These useful publications can be found on the Assistance and Engagement Webpage.

Guidance documents include: Stakeholder Communication and Engagement, Engagement with Tribal Governments, Stakeholder Engagement Requirements by Phase, and Communication and Engagement Plan Outline.

REMINDER Submit Your GSP Initial Notification

Before initiating development of a GSP, GSAs are required to notify DWR in writing. GSAs must submit all applicable GSP initial notification information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System. The SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System also allows edits to be made to a previously submitted Initial Notification, including the ability to withdraw a submittal.

For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions on GSP Initial Notification Requirements or contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR’s four Regional Offices.

For assistance with the system, please email

Connect with Your Basin Point of Contact

DWR has designated Basin Points of Contact to assist local agencies and GSAs as GSPs are developed and implemented and to assist with applications for Technical Support Services and Facilitation Support Services.

Cooperation Preserves Pauma Valley Groundwater

Instead of waiting for Yuima Valley’s precious groundwater supplies to dry up, the Yuima Municipal Water District and local farmers are working cooperatively to create a sustainable long-term strategy for maintaining the region’s economy and quality of life by proactively managing the valley’s aquifer. …

Yuima farmers also have relied on groundwater supplies for decades. Crops such as citrus and avocado flourish in the valley, nestled between Palomar Mountain and Valley Center.

But Yuima farmers want a different kind of future than they see unfolding in other groundwater-dependent areas of arid West. … “

Read more from the Water News Network here:   Cooperation Preserves Pauma Valley Groundwater

Community Participation in Groundwater Sustainability: The City of Weed

Angelina Cook is an environmental activist based in Siskiyou county. She advocates for including the City of Weed in the Shasta Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan and working to protect the city’s groundwater from expanded pumping by private bottling companies. Clean Water Action’s communications manager interviewed Angelina about her experiences.

1. What basin/basins are you currently working in/involved with?

Shasta Valley Groundwater Basin

2. What has been your experience of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) process?

Read more at the We All Live Downstream blog here:  Community Participation in Groundwater Sustainability: The City of Weed

Community Participation in Groundwater Sustainability: The Borrego Valley

“Imagine over 600,000 acres of wilderness.  You are surrounded by blue sky, mountains, rock formations and a cornucopia of plants including creosote, palo verde, cacti, and ocotillo. As you walk around, you have the opportunity to see bighorn sheep, mountain lions, kit foxes, mule deer, coyotes, greater roadrunners, golden eagles, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, prairie falcons, desert iguanas, chuckwallas, and red diamond rattlesnakes.

The place in question is Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The park is also a storied place that was inhabited for thousands of years by the Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Kumeyaay (Diegueño) Indian tribes, the members of which created petroglyph and pictogram rock art. … ”

Read more from the We All Live Downstream blog here:  Community Participation in Groundwater Sustainability

Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning

 “Tehama and Butte counties teamed up Friday to host a Northern Sacramento Valley forum on sustainable groundwater held at Rolling Hills Casino. 

The event was a collaboration between the Tehama County UC Cooperative Extension and Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation.  Allan Fulton, a Tehama County farm advisor, served as moderator. … ”

Read more from the Daily News here:  Regional sustainable groundwater management forum hosted in Corning

Water Planners Share SGMA Strategies

“Water planners and stakeholders from across the state convened in West Sacramento recently for the Department of Water Resources’ Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Forum to share experiences and ideas as they implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office hosted the event on March 21, 2019, to assist GSAs as they plan for sustainability and to encourage stakeholder engagement and GSA coordination and collaboration within basins and between adjacent basins. … ”

Read more from DWR News here:  Water Planners Share SGMA Strategies

Video for DWR Groundwater Sustainability Agency Forum Now Available

The video recording of the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Forum is now available on the department’s website.

DWR hosted the Forum on March 21, 2019, as part of its assistance role in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The Forum brought representatives from GSAs and stakeholders from across the state together to highlight their efforts, facilitate the exchange of ideas, establish professional networks, and foster successful stakeholder engagement.

Click below to view the following:

For questions, email