Eric Averett is general manager of the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County, California, which is one of 21 regions required by the state to balance groundwater demand and supply within 20 years under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Rosedale is home to approximately 27,500 acres of irrigated cropland and 7,500 acres of urban development. Groundwater demand there exceeds supply by approximately 5,000 acre-feet per year. To inform landowners about their water budgets, Rosedale partnered with EDF, Sitka Technology Group, WestWater Research and local landowners to co-develop a new online, open-source water accounting and trading platform. We asked Eric to answer a few questions about how the platform will help local landowners and how it can be expanded to other parts of the Central Valley.
“Local groundwater regulatory agencies set up under 2014 legislation in California are discussing future rationing schemes with irrigators as they scramble to submit long-term aquifer sustainability plans to the state by a deadline of early next year.
The plans are required by January 2020 for the state’s 21 most critically overdrafted or important basins. Most of those basins are in the San Joaquin Valley, where surface water cutbacks in recent years led to an overreliance on wells. … ”
Read more from the Western Farm Press here: Agencies plan for water rationing under SGMA
“In the valley north of the central Nevada town of Eureka, dozens of circle irrigation systems spray water onto alfalfa each spring. The water that flows through the rotating center pivots comes from the ground. But that limited groundwater supply is being overpumped and beginning to dry up at a rate that has long concerned Nevada’s top water regulator, the state engineer.
Each year, water users near Eureka pump more than twice the amount of groundwater from Diamond Valley — a hub for hay growers in central Nevada — than is replenished by Mother Nature. Underneath the valley, the water table has dropped further away from the surface. …
Last week, the state approved a first-of-its-kind plan to reduce water use in Diamond Valley, a community caught between a desire to maintain its agricultural industry and the realities of water availability in the high desert. The plan revolves around the concept of a water market. But it also deviates from Western water law — and will almost certainly be challenged in court.”
Read more from the Nevada Independent here: Departing state engineer approves controversial water market near Eureka
From EDF’s Market Forces blog:
California’s landscape will transform in a changing climate. While extended drought and recent wildfires seasons have sparked conversations about acute impacts today, the promise of changes to come is no less worrying. Among the challenges for water management:
- The Sierra Nevada mountain range – an important source of water storage for the entire state – is expected to see a 60% reduction in total snowpack by the end of the century, along with earlier melting times.
- Average July temperatures in California’s Central Valley – an indispensable agricultural region – are expected to rise by up to 3.9 °F by 2050, reducing yields for many crops and stressing irrigation demand.
- Precipitation is expected to become less predictable throughout the state.
These changes will make water resources less reliable when they are needed most, rendering water storage an even more important feature of the state’s water system.
Continue reading at the Market Forces blog here: What California’s history of groundwater depletion can teach us about successful collective action
From the Environmental Defense Fund:
Two new reports are available to aid Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in preparing and implementing their Groundwater Sustainability Plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA):
Groundwater Pumping Allocations under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies
This paper, co-authored with New Current Water and Land, addresses one major dilemma facing Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): how to comply with SGMA without changing groundwater rights. It starts by providing background on groundwater law and then recommends one approach among four to develop an allocation scheme that is most likely to withstand a court challenge.
- Blog post: http://blogs.edf.org/growingreturns/2018/09/04/groundwater-managers-sgma-compliance/
- Paper: https://www.edf.org/content/groundwater-pumping-allocations-under-californias-sustainable-groundwater-management-act
Depletion Requirements in California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
In this paper, Environmental Defense Fund proposes an approach for GSAs to address surface water depletions – also known as the “sixth deadly sin” or “Undesirable Result No. 6” – under SGMA.
From the Environmental Defense Fund’s Growing Returns blog, Christina Babbitt and Daniel M. Dooley with New Current Water and Land write:
“Over the next two years, more than 100 groundwater sustainability agencies in California will have to hammer out a plan to make their groundwater basins sustainable.
But as mangers in many areas work to combat decades of over-pumping, they face a major dilemma: In dividing the groundwater pie to avoid overuse, they can’t change Byzantine groundwater rights that date as far back as 1903.
In a new working paper, “Groundwater Pumping Allocations under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” Environmental Defense Fund and New Current Water and Land – a California-based consulting firm – provide water managers with a recommended approach to navigate this challenge and develop plans that are more durable, and thus likely to succeed, under the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … “
Read the full post at the Growing Returns blog here: The groundwater manager’s dilemma: How to comply with new California law without changing water rights