How water justice groups view groundwater sustainability planning

Over-pumping of groundwater has caused domestic wells to go dry in the San Joaquin Valley. Yet many of the first round of plans prepared to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) do not yet propose ways to address this problem. We explored groundwater planning with three members of the environmental justice community—Angela Islas of Self-Help Enterprises, Justine Massey of the Community Water Center, and Amanda Monaco of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Click here to read this article.

NEW RESOURCE: Bilingual video series helps explain SGMA

Are you interested in learning more about California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)? If yes, this channel is for you!
As a doctoral candidate, Vicky Espinoza’s work involves keeping farmers and community members in the San Joaquin Valley informed and engaged with SGMA. If you are a farmer or community member of California’s San Joaquin Valley and would like to become involved in my doctoral research you can email her at
Thank you!

Click here to visit CaliWaterAg on YouTube.

¿Está interesado en aprender más sobre la Ley de Manejo Sustentable de Aguas Subterráneas (SGMA) de California? Si es así, ¡este canal es para ti!
Como candidata a doctorado, el trabajo de Vicky Espinoza implica mantener informados e involucrados a los agricultores y miembros de la comunidad en el Valle de San Joaquín con SGMA. Si usted es un agricultor o miembro de la comunidad del Valle de San Joaquín de California y le gustaría participar en mi investigación doctoral, puede enviarle un correo electrónico a

Haga clic aquí para visitar CaliWaterAg en YouTube.

Perspectives on Groundwater Sustainability: Q&A with Susan Harvey, North County Watch, Paso Robles

“Q: How did you get involved with sustainable groundwater management issues?

A: I have been a volunteer activist in the county for 20 years. As irrigated agriculture came in and started planting in the region it started to become obvious that we needed to pay attention to how much groundwater there was. In 2005, the County published a study they’d done of the groundwater aquifer and they published a second one in 2009 or 2010, and then a third one. As irrigated agriculture grew and we faced this drought, residents’ wells started to go dry. … ”

Read more from the We All Live Downstream blog here:  Perspectives on Groundwater Sustainability: Q&A with Susan Harvey, North County Watch

Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

“Jovita Torres Romo lives in a grayish bungalow surrounded by cactus and succulents and strung with Christmas lights. It’s located on one of the handful of streets that make up Tombstone Territory, an unincorporated Fresno County community that’s been her home for 30 years. …

A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger, Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues—one of the reasons Governor Gavin Newsom chose the community as the location to sign the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act into law earlier this year. … ”

Read more from KVPR here: Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

As Groundwater Law Plows Forward, Small Farmers Seek More Engagement

Dennis Hutson’s rows of alfalfa, melons, okra and black-eyed peas are an oasis of green in the dry terrain of Allensworth, an unincorporated community in rural Tulare County. Hutson, currently cultivating on 60 acres, has a vision for many more fields bustling with jobs. “This community will forever be impoverished and viewed by the county as a hamlet,” he says, “unless something happens that can create an economic base. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

While he scours his field for slender pods of ripe okra, three workers, community members he calls “helpers,” mind the irrigation station: 500-gallon water tanks and gurgling ponds at the head of each row, all fed by a 720-foot-deep groundwater well.

Read more from Valley Public Radio by clicking here.

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