SGMA in the News

Implementing SGMA: Results from a stakeholder survey

August 28, 2019

“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

Category: News Article

Changing the ground (water) rules

August 28, 2019

“In 2014 California introduced the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into state law to help manage the conflict between ground and surface water. But updating legal structures to accommodate evolving scientific knowledge involves far more than simply rewriting statutes, according to researchers in the US.

“Understanding the interconnections between groundwater and surface water doesn’t make those conflicts go away,” says Dave Owen of University of California, Hastings. “But at least acknowledging those interconnections in law puts legal decision-makers in a position to start managing conflicts, rather than just letting them play out without any legal oversight.” … ”

Read more from Physics World here: Changing the ground (water) rules

Category: News Article

September groundwater events …

August 28, 2019

Incentivizing Groundwater Recharge: A Berkeley Law Symposium

September 10, Berkeley

Groundwater aquifers continue to be depleted as pumping exceeds recharge in many regions of the world, adversely affecting human and environmental systems. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is one crucial strategy to bringing these groundwater resources into sustainable balance. However, understanding is sorely lacking about how to effectively incentivize MAR, and how to navigate the institutions relevant to MAR.

This symposium will seek to fill these knowledge gaps, addressing key questions including: Who benefits from groundwater recharge? What conditions are necessary for a recharge project to succeed? How can implementation be incentivized? How should recharge projects be governed? What emerging and novel techniques hold promise for future MAR?

The symposium aims to move the conversation on MAR forward. To this end, presenters will highlight successful and novel recharge projects from across the U.S.. Experts will also speak to scientific, legal, and management issues in recharge, and how they influence potential incentive schemes. These insights will help inform practitioners and scholars about recharge and chart a path towards developing a broadly applicable framework for enabling recharge.

Click here for more information and to register.


GRA SACRAMENTO BRANCH MEETING: Factors Affecting 1,2,3-Trichloropropane in Groundwater in California

September 11, 5:30pm

1,2,3-TCP is a volatile organic chemical of eminent concern due to its carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reproductive effects, and its frequent occurrence at concentrations of concern worldwide. California recently established a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for 1,2,3-TCP of 0.005 μg/L.

Statewide, 1,2,3-TCP was detected at concentrations above the MCL in 6.5% of 1,237 wells sampled by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS).   … Most of the detections occurred in the San Joaquin Valley, where 1,2,3-TCP was detected above the MCL in 16% of USGS sampled wells and 18% of DDW wells. In the San Joaquin Valley, 1,2,3-TCP occurrence and concentrations are related to legacy nonpoint source fumigant inputs and hydrogeologic factors.

The highest concentrations of nonpoint-source 1,2,3-TCP are in young, shallow, oxic groundwater beneath primarily orchard/vineyard crops. These areas are in coarse-grained sediments that promote rapid recharge. 1,2,3-TCP frequently co-occurs with 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), 1,2-dichloropropane (1,2-DCP), simazine, and high nitrate concentrations. Analysis of groundwater age dates and temporal changes in 1,2,3-TCP indicate that 1,2,3-TCP is persistent throughout modern age groundwater, showing little evidence of degradation.

Click here to register.  You do not have to be a member to attend.


Second Annual Western Groundwater Congress

September 17 – 19, Sacramento

Don’t miss the premier groundwater conference of 2019, GRA’s Western Groundwater Congress!  This three-day, multi-track event is the leading technical conference for our broad groundwater community focusing on Western groundwater resources and quality.  In addition to world-class technical presentations, sessions will focus on sustainable groundwater management,  advancements in contaminant hydrogeology, and practical hands-on workshops.

If a host of technical groundwater sessions isn’t reason enough – enjoy networking and social activities ranging from wine/beer tasting, massage chairs, wellness activities and a casino night! Or grab and old friend and belt out a tune at after-hours karaoke!

Click here to register.


Webinar: SGMA 101

September 23, 11am to 12pm

Need to understand the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act? This free webinar will review the basics of SGMA, including the role of the agencies, key provisions and requirements, and more.

Presented by Maven and the Groundwater Exchange.

Click here to register.


Kern County GSP Public Review Open House

September 26, 5:30pm to 7:30pm, Bakersfield

A “One-Stop-Shop” for groundwater users with interests throughout the Kern Subbasin to meet with representatives from subbasin GSAs and water/irrigation districts to discuss the Kern Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plans during the 90-day public review period.

Kern Groundwater Authority
• Arvin Community Services District (ACSD)
• Arvin-Edison Water Storage District (AEWSD)
• Cawelo Water District (CWD)
• City of Shafter
• County of Kern
• Kern County Water Agency (KCWA)
• Kern-Tulare Water District (KTWD)
• Kern Water Bank Authority (KWBA)
• North Kern Water Storage District (NKWSD)
• Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (RRBWSD)
• Semitropic Water Storage District (SWSD)
• Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District (SWID)
• Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District (SSJMUD)
• Tejon-Castaic Water District (TCWD)
• West Kern Water District (WKWD)
• Westside District Water Authority (WDWA)
• Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District (WRMWSD)
Henry Miller Water District GSA
Buena Vista Water Storage District GSA
Olcese Water District GSA
Kern River GSA
• Kern Delta Water District
• City of Bakersfield
• Improvement District No. 4

Click here to download a flyer.


Click here to view the full calendar.
Category: Uncategorized

SGMA news from around the state …

August 28, 2019

California looks to Australia for ways to manage its groundwater after worst-ever drought:  “In the powerhouse food bowl of California, the impact of its most recent drought — which finally ended in 2017 after eight gruelling years — continues to be felt across the sunshine state.  Farmers, experts and lawmakers are working to find more sustainable ways to drought-proof farms and address the vexed issue of water allocation. And it turns out many farmers and water experts in California are looking to Australia for answers as they face up to the biggest water reforms in the history of the US. … ”  Read more from the Australian Broadcasting Company here: California looks to Australia for ways to manage its groundwater after worst-ever drought

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Siskiyou County groundwater case: After 10 years of fight, county admits defeat:  “The county’s aggressive litigation strategy involved retention of one of the nation’s preeminent natural resource lawyers to advance its legal argument that the common law Public Trust Doctrine does not apply to the county’s issuance of ministerial well construction permits in Scott Valley, according to a press release.  In July of 2019, the County of Siskiyou entered into a $1.7 million settlement agreement with the Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations, and Institute of Fisheries Resources, to settle the county’s payment of attorneys’ fees and costs in the case of Environmental Law Foundation, et al v. State Water Resources Control Board and County of Siskiyou (“ELF”), a Writ of Mandate case that the county aggressively litigated for close to a decade, and ultimately lost. ... ”  Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here: Siskiyou County: After 10 years of fight, county admits defeat

Supervisors vote to form Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency; goal is to keep local control of water supply:  “The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move forward with forming the Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a move county leadership said is necessary to keep local control of the watershed.  The unanimous vote to adopt a resolution to form the new agency – in accordance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which went into effect as part of California Water Code in January 2015 – followed a brief public hearing Tuesday morning. … ”  Read more from Lake County News here: Supervisors vote to form Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency; goal is to keep local control of water supply

SACRAMENTO VALLEY

Roseville water update: Groundwater basin recharged“Increasingly, water management in California is a balancing act where solutions must knit together the needs of people, industry, farming, species and the environment.  Managing water to benefit these multiple uses is hard enough if water was a stationary resource – but it’s not. Especially during the winter months, water managers confront complex decisions about when and where water is released from reservoirs for winter flood protection as well as environmental flows and supply needs throughout the year. ... ”  Read more from Roseville Today here:  Roseville water update: Groundwater basin recharged

CENTRAL COAST

The fight over Salinas Valley groundwater heats up as free-for-all nears its end:  “California was the last Western state to pass legislation regulating groundwater: the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 arrived after more than a century of development, intensive agriculture, bouts of drought and the looming threat that our aquifers will dry up.  But the details of who would get to pump what – and the financial cost of achieving groundwater sustainability – are only now becoming clear. Agencies at the local level, like the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin Sustainability Agency, are finalizing the details in the coming months. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Weekly here: The fight over Salinas Valley groundwater heats up as free-for-all nears its end

Paso Robles Groundwater Sustainability Agency meets to discuss draft plan for basin:  “The Paso Robles Groundwater Sustainability Agency met Wednesday afternoon at the Paso Robles Library Conference Room. The agency includes representatives from the City of Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, San Juan Water District and San Miguel. About 50 people in attendance learned that the draft plan for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin has been finalized and is available to be viewed on the website, PasoGCP.com.  Among those to speak at the meeting Wednesday afternoon, Steve and Jerry Lohr, who cultivate vineyards on the east side of Paso Robles. Jerry Lohr explained how his managers monitor groundwater levels and how they plan to manage reclaimed waste water from the city of Paso Robles with Lake Nacimiento water to protect water in the groundwater basin. … ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here: Paso Robles Groundwater Sustainability Agency meets to discuss draft plan for basin

Carpinteria Valley Water District plans sustainable groundwater basin:  “The Carpinteria Valley Water District (CVWD) is in the process of forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for Carpinteria Groundwater Basin (CGB) in partnership with the city of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County and Ventura County. The GSA is a requirement of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which was passed in 2014 to ensure better regional management of groundwater use in California.  SGMA aims to have sustainable groundwater management in California by 2042, which is defined as “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.” These undesirable results include chronic depletion of groundwater supply, reduction of storage, significant seawater intrusion, decreased water quality and substantial land subsidence. … ”  Read more from Coastal View here: Carpinteria Valley Water District plans sustainable groundwater basin

SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Caps on groundwater use create a new market in California:  “A long stretch of highway running between Los Angeles and San Francisco separates the dry hills to the west from the green plains of the San Joaquin Valley to the east, where much of America’s fruit, nuts and vegetables are grown. Every couple of miles billboards hint at the looming threat to the valley. “Is growing food a waste of water?” one billboard asks. Another simply says, “No Water, no Jobs”.  In the San Joaquin Valley agriculture accounts for 18% of jobs and agriculture runs on water. Most of it comes from local rivers and rainfall, some is imported from the river deltas upstate, and the rest is pumped out of groundwater basins. … ”  Read more from The Economist here: Caps on groundwater use create a new market in California

Surviving the Next Drought: It’s Political in California’s Central Valley:  “Growers in California’s Central Valley, famous for transforming patches of desert into the world’s most productive farmland, suffered more than any other during a recent stretch scientists mark as the Golden State’s driest since record-keeping began in 1895. The meager rain and snowfall between 2011 and 2015 forced some smaller farmers to give land back to nature or sell their remaining water supplies to bigger, wealthier farmers and developers.  Before the skies finally opened up in late 2016, the saving grace for many Central Valley farmers was groundwater. Farmers that could afford it drilled hundreds of feet below the valley floor, siphoned up water and rescued lucrative crops like almonds, pistachios and grapes. … ”  Read more from Courthouse News Service here: Surviving the Next Drought: It’s Political in California’s Central Valley

Gustine: City eyes groundwater sustainability options:  “The city is facing a fast-approaching deadline for identifying steps that will be taken to achieve groundwater sustainability, as required under state legislation enacted five years ago.  City Manager Doug Dunford told Mattos Newspapers recently that the city, which relies solely on groundwater wells to meet municipal water needs, has until Dec. 31 to submit its plan for achieving sustainability.  “We’re pumping 1,000 acre-feet a year, and 600 acre-feet is being percolated back into the system. We’re losing 400 acre-feet a year that is not recharging the system. That is where we are short,” Dunford explained. ... ”  Read more from the West Side Connect here:  Gustine: City eyes groundwater sustainability options

EASTERN SIERRA

The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority, according to Mono County:  “The Mono County Board of Supervisors heard a tutorial on the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority delivered by Deputy County Counsel Jason Conger at Tuesday’s meeting. The presentation and comments indicate a distinct line has been drawn between Mono’s members on the OVGA and Inyo County.  The bottom line: with the tentative low rating on the Owens Valley groundwater basin, Mono County’s Board doesn’t seem to see any advantage in keeping the OVGA intact. As Supervisor Bob Gardner said, “what’s broken that needs fixing? We need serious conversation to balance Mono County with Inyo’s Owens Lake issues.” … ”  Read more from the Sierra Wave here: The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority, according to Mono County

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves well registration ordinance:  “All residents and organizations within the Indian Wells Valley will have to implement register their wells come Oct. 1 following the approval of an ordinance by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors.  The board passed the ordinance unanimously at its Thursday board meeting as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to collect data for a required groundwater sustainability plan.  According to IWV Water District attorney James Worth, who acts as lead legal counsel for the IWVGA in 2019, it is a critical component in developing that plan. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves well registration ordinance

Ridgecrest: Meadowbrook, Searles Valley Minerals protest groundwater model:In light of the recent groundwater modeling scenarios generated by Indian Wells Valley Water Groundwater, some stakeholders in the basin have pushed back, including Searles Valley Minerals and Meadowbrook Dairy.  Lawyers for both entities submitted letters to the Policy Advisory Committee during a special meeting on Aug. 7 contesting the results generated from Model Scenario 6, which is a modified version of a previous scenario.  The scenarios generate data points about how the basin will be impacted after the IWVGA implements its groundwater sustainability plan. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Meadowbrook, Searles Valley Minerals protest groundwater model

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority water resources manager talks transparency, options:  “Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Water Resources Manager Steve Johnson touched on several concerns from the public in a lengthy report Thursday morning.  Johnson and his company Stetson Engineers are tasked with developing the IWVGA’s groundwater sustainability plan, a roadmap that will oversee the management of the basin for the next 20 to 50 years.  The top thing on his report Thursday was transparency, or the concern from members of the public, stakeholders and members of the technical and policy advisory committees. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority water resources manager talks transparency, options

Ridgecrest: Stephens grills Hayman on water: “It’s a frequent and recurring item on the Ridgecrest City Council’s agenda: discussing and providing guidance to Councilman Scott Hayman who is the city’s representative to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority. At the council meeting August 21, however, Mayor Pro Tem Lindsey Stephens used the opportunity to ask several specific pointed questions about the IWVGA and its plans, essentially grilling Hayman on the status of the project.  Stephens hammered on the topic with a relentless list of questions, until Hayman eventually said he did not feel the questioning was fair. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Stephens grills Hayman on water

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

San Bernardino district tops 30-year record for groundwater storage: “Like money in the bank, local groundwater aquifers have seen record-breaking deposits this year with a staggering 20 billion gallons saved so far and another two months still left in the water year, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District has announced.  More than 61,000 acre-feet of snowmelt and rainfall has been diverted from Mill Creek and the Santa Ana River by the district and recharged into the groundwater basin for future use by those who pump water from the basin. Imported water was also used to help supplement the amount of water stored. (An acre-foot contains 326,000 gallons of water, enough to fill a football field a foot deep and to satisfy the needs of the average family for one to two years.) … ”  Read more from Redlands Community News here: San Bernardino district tops 30-year record for groundwater storage

Coachella Valley Commentary: Regional collaboration needed to keep the desert’s groundwater supply healthy, says Trish Rhay:  She writes, “Recent validation by state regulators of the effective and sustainable management of Coachella Valley’s groundwater basins speaks volumes about the importance of collaboration by local water managers to protect our most important resource.  For years, the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), Desert Water Agency (DWA), Indio Water Authority (IWA) and other local public water agencies across the valley have worked together to protect underground basins — a shared resource that supplies the majority of our drinking water. These local sources are particularly important in times of drought, when imported water is subject to drastic reductions. … ” Read more from the Desert Sun here:  Regional collaboration needed to keep the desert’s groundwater supply healthy


Upcoming groundwater events: Groundwater recharge, Central Valley drinking water workshops, SGMA GSP Reporting, Western Groundwater Congress, and more …

August 14, 2019

August 16: Webinar: Groundwater Recharge & Environmental Flows: Balancing Our Depleted Supplies & Ecosystem Needs

Groundwater managers across the state are looking to groundwater recharge as a potential solution to their community’s water challenges. Come join the NGO Groundwater Collaborative for a conversation on the statewide efforts looking at recharge, environmental flows, water rights, and permitting from a panel of experts on the topic. Presentations will be followed by 20-30 minutes of Q&A discussion, so come prepared to engage!  Presented by the Local Government Commission and the Clean Water Fund.

Click here to register.


August 17: Pond Planning and Groundwater Recharge Workshop

SRF and Sanctuary Forest will host a Pond Planning and Groundwater Recharge Workshop and Field Tour this summer to highlight rainwater catchment ponds and groundwater recharge concepts and opportunities. Presentations will focus on Redwood Creek planning efforts and conceptual designs for the Marshall Ranch flow enhancement planning project, Sanctuary Forest’s pioneering recharge efforts, and expert presentations on groundwater hydrology. The workshop will include a field tour to the Sanctuary Forest Baker Creek project shown above.

Click here for more information and to register for this workshop!


August 20/21: Central Valley Drinking Water – Solutions to Groundwater Contamination Workshop

These workshops, presented by the American Groundwater Trust, will discuss:

  • Overall condition of drinking water quality in Central Valley communities
  • Health and economic impacts of inadequate drinking water
  • SGMA requirements related to the availability of safe drinking water
  • Jurisdictional authority/responsibility for ensuring the availability of safe drinking water
  • The natural or anthropogenic origins of chemicals and compounds of concern
  • How correct well drilling, construction and monitoring can have a positive impact on water quality
  • Water quality testing capabilities and the interpretation of test results
  • Water quality treatment technologies, how they work and what they cost
  • Legal remedies for recovering treatment costs by communities, utilities and water agencies
  • How to find funding for capital investment in water infrastructure improvements
  • Case studies of contamination reduction/ removal

Limited number of free registrations available.

Click here to register for Fresno workshop on August 20.
Click here to register for Bakersfield workshop on August 21.


August 20-22  SGMA GSP Reporting workshops

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) GSP Reporting System workshop will assist those submitting groundwater sustainability plans(GSPs). The workshop is free, but space is limited so reservations are encouraged and are on a first-come basis.

During the workshop, DWR staff will present information on the updated SGMA Portal, provide step-by-step instructions for GSP submittal, demonstrate the new tool, and answer questions.

Click here to register for Fresno on August 20.
Click here to register for Bakersfield on August 21.
Click here to register for webcast on August 22.


August 26: Community Discussion on Groundwater in Dinuba

Groundwater is a vital resource utilized by communities, cities and farmers. New Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) have been formed to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Complying with the new law will ensure that groundwater resources are sustainable and available in the future.

The community discussion will provide an overview about SGMA, the state of the Kings Subbasin and a panel discussion on key chapters of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The GSP is a detailed roadmap for how groundwater basins will reach long-term groundwater sustainability.

Presented by Self-Help Enterprises.

Visit the event page at Self-Help Enterprises.


September 10: Incentivizing Groundwater Recharge: A Berkeley Law Symposium

Groundwater aquifers continue to be depleted as pumping exceeds recharge in many regions of the world, adversely affecting human and environmental systems. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is one crucial strategy to bringing these groundwater resources into sustainable balance. However, understanding is sorely lacking about how to effectively incentivize MAR, and how to navigate the institutions relevant to MAR.

This symposium will seek to fill these knowledge gaps, addressing key questions including: Who benefits from groundwater recharge? What conditions are necessary for a recharge project to succeed? How can implementation be incentivized? How should recharge projects be governed? What emerging and novel techniques hold promise for future MAR?

Click here for more information and to register.


September 17-19: Second Annual Western Groundwater Congress

Don’t miss the premier groundwater conference of 2019, GRA’s Western Groundwater Congress!  This three-day, multi-track event is the leading technical conference for our broad groundwater community focusing on Western groundwater resources and quality.  In addition to world-class technical presentations, sessions will focus on sustainable groundwater management,  advancements in contaminant hydrogeology, and practical hands-on workshops.  If a host of technical groundwater sessions isn’t reason enough – enjoy networking and social activities ranging from wine/beer tasting, massage chairs, wellness activities and a casino night! Or grab and old friend and belt out a tune at after-hours karaoke!

For more information, click here.


September 26: Kern County GSP Public Review Open House

A “One-Stop-Shop” for groundwater users with interests throughout the Kern Subbasin to meet with representatives from subbasin GSAs and water/irrigation districts to discuss the Kern Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plans during the 90-day public review period.

Kern Groundwater Authority
• Arvin Community Services District (ACSD)
• Arvin-Edison Water Storage District (AEWSD)
• Cawelo Water District (CWD)
• City of Shafter
• County of Kern
• Kern County Water Agency (KCWA)
• Kern-Tulare Water District (KTWD)
• Kern Water Bank Authority (KWBA)
• North Kern Water Storage District (NKWSD)
• Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (RRBWSD)
• Semitropic Water Storage District (SWSD)
• Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District (SWID)
• Southern San Joaquin Municipal Utility District (SSJMUD)
• Tejon-Castaic Water District (TCWD)
• West Kern Water District (WKWD)
• Westside District Water Authority (WDWA)
• Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District (WRMWSD)
Henry Miller Water District GSA
Buena Vista Water Storage District GSA
Olcese Water District GSA
Kern River GSA
• Kern Delta Water District
• City of Bakersfield
• Improvement District No. 4

Click here to download a flyer.

Category: Public meetings

Maps, Models, and Mystery: Interconnected Groundwater and the Public Trust

August 14, 2019

Walk into the office of any water law practitioner, anywhere, and you might think you made a wrong turn and walked into the office of your local cartographer. We are a profession that depends on, and you might even say reveres, a good map. Rights to water flowing in surface streams are fundamentally defined by geography, and maps have long been a requirement of appropriation and essential evidence of riparian ownership. In turn, injury to a surface water right is determined by physics, as the topography of the land establishes the linear relation of impacts from other diversions, whether it be upstream (cause), or downstream (affected). In homage to these principles, some hydrologists will orient their maps top-to-bottom as upstream to downstream, rather than north to south. In our practice, gravity is our compass.

Upending the convenient simplicity of rivers and streams flowing from mountaintop to ocean are alluvial and glacial valleys, in which unconsolidated sediment serve as giant sponges and blocks of fractured rock contain hidden stores of oftentimes ancient waters. Through these geologic features, hidden beneath the surface, water percolates, flows, and moves across the landscape. These subsurface waterbodies interconnect with surface streams and changes in the groundwater basin, whether due to drought or artificial extractions, and influence surface flow on a time scale ranging from minutes to centuries. To understand the relationship with any hope of precision, we need much more than a map; we need a hydrogeologist and a whole lot of data.

All of this is by way of introducing two themes of emerging law in California that stand to influence trends beyond the state: (1) the legal relevance of interconnected groundwater to surface flows in protecting instream uses, and (2) recognition in the law of the need to understand and manage these interconnected waters.

Continue reading at the American Bar Association here:  Maps, Models, and Mystery: Interconnected Groundwater and the Public Trust


Groundwater: Agencies react to rejection of alternative plans

August 14, 2019

Six regions of California that considered themselves to be managing groundwater sustainably have been informed otherwise by state officials, who rejected alternatives to preparation of groundwater sustainability plans for the regions. Three of the applicants have agreed to form groundwater sustainability agencies as required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The remaining three—in Humboldt, Lake and Napa counties—face decisions on how to proceed.

In all, the California Department of Water Resources reviewed alternative proposals for 15 groundwater basins or subbasins, and approved nine of the proposals.

The agencies that submitted alternatives must satisfy the objectives of SGMA, and demonstrate the basin has been operating sustainably for at least 10 years or has a well-defined plan to achieve sustainability within 20 years. The law, approved in 2014, requires local agencies overseeing basins ranked as medium or high priority to develop groundwater sustainability plans or submit an alternative.

Continue reading from Ag Alert here:  Groundwater: Agencies react to rejection of alternative plans


Groundwater Law – Physical – “the water budget myth”

August 14, 2019

Jay Lund writes,

This week’s short post is on groundwater law – from the viewpoint of physics.  Water policy, management, and human law often misunderstand how groundwater and surface water work physically.

Bredehoeft, et al. (1982) distill a longstanding lament of many groundwater experts, “Perhaps the most common misconception in groundwater hydrology is that a water budget of an area determines the magnitude of possible groundwater development.  Several well-known hydrologists have addressed this misconception and attempted to dispel it.  Somehow, though, it persists and continues to color decisions by the water-management community.”

Continue reading at the California Water Blog here:  Groundwater Law – Physical – “the water budget myth”


EDF and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District to Build New Groundwater Trading Market

August 14, 2019

Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (Rosedale) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a joint pilot project today to build the first online, open-source groundwater trading platform in the Central Valley in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

An early design of the trading platform, which is being co-created by landowners, Rosedale and EDF, will be available in September. The platform will be further tested and refined this fall during a series of workshops and mock trading sessions prompted by various scenarios.

The preliminary schedule calls for a beta version of the platform to go live in early 2020 for the landowner group to test with real trades. A final version will go live for landowners in the Rosedale district in 2021.

Click to continue reading at the Environmental Defense Fund here: EDF and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District to Build New Groundwater Trading Market


What Does Groundwater Have to Do with the Delta? A Lot.

August 14, 2019

Susan Tatayon, chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, writes:

California has a vast water supply not just in its lakes, rivers, and estuaries, but also underground. For years, California’s cities and farms have depended on this unseen resource, especially in the southern part of the state where rainfall is low, surface water is scarce, and demand is high. In fact, underground aquifers provide about 40 percent of California’s water supply in a normal year and significantly more in dry years.

Groundwater is also something that, until recently, was largely absent from the state’s water management oversight; this changed in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For the first time in its history, California established minimum standards for sustainable groundwater management. If local resource managers fail to meet these standards, this legislation authorizes the state to intervene to protect groundwater basins. SGMA is an earth-shaking move toward managing California’s groundwater and surface water as an interconnected system.

This month has seen a flurry of SGMA-related activity. Following an extensive, two-year technical review, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) made its first SGMA determination, approving nine alternatives to groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) and disapproving six plans. This initial determination is an important first test of SGMA and sets the bar for future GSPs and alternative plans ahead of a Jan. 31, 2020 deadline for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to submit their plans.

Continue reading at the Delta Stewardship Council blog here:  What Does Groundwater Have to Do with the Delta? A Lot.

Category: Blogs