SGMA IMPLEMENTATION: David Orth gives his observations on how sustainable groundwater management is playing out in the San Joaquin Valley

David Orth is the principal of New Current Water and Land, which offers strategic planning, program implementation, and water resource development services.  At the California Irrigation Institute’s 2020 Annual Conference, he gave his observations on how implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is progressing, having watched Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) form and develop their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) since the passage of the SGMA in 2014.

New Current Water and Land is a small strategic planning shop that combines experience in water engineering, finance, district management, and water law to create a strategic planning platform.  Their clients are from the farming community, the investment community, and the lending community.  They also work with one environmental NGO.  Over the last several years, they have monitored over 60 GSAs on behalf on that client base in over 40 subbasins, including about 15 of the 21 subbasins that are considered critically overdrafted.

Through the course of that, we’ve provided a general risk assessment for our clients by area so they can understand where they really need to pay attention as GSPs are developed in the policy engagement arena,” he said.  “Then we extrapolated that into long-term forecasting of what individual ranch water budgets are going to look like upon full implementation of SGMA.  This has assisted our ag clients in making decisions about redevelopment or acquisition or disposition in how to deal with the new variable that SGMA creates.”

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