What’s next for the community of Borrego Springs and the future of Borrego’s water and land-use planning?
Borrego Springs – Southern California, but a World Apart
A four part series from the Local Government Commission
“Amidst drought, groundwater regulation, and economic hardship, the media portrays Borrego Springs as a village “drying up” in the desert – running out of water – soon to be the next California ghost town.
Like many aspects of the desert, there’s more to the Borrego Springs community than meets the eye. In the crevices of the valley’s rocky floor, wildflowers blossom in exuberant hope. In the shade of the Palo Verde trees, Coyote Creek babbles through the sandy slopes with perseverance.
From corner to corner, the community is banding together: evaluating how to live within the constraints of this remote locale, charting a course that integrates civic engagement with environmental, social and economic priorities – to achieve their goal of a thriving, resilient future.
This is their story. … ”
Read more from the Local Government Commission here: Borrego Springs – Southern California, but a World Apart
Saving Borrego’s Lifeblood
“Borrego Springs’ only viable water source is a large aquifer under Borrego Valley; it has long been accepted that the aquifer’s water collected over millennia and is being pumped at a rapid pace by recent generations. What farmers, developers, business owners, and residents never agreed upon was how much water was actually available, and how long it would last.”
Read more from the Local Government Commission here: Saving Borrego’s Lifeblood
“LGC, with the help of five Stanford University students, conducted interviews with community members to understand varying perspectives and identify where community visions overlap in order to help guide the community on a path forward. Ten Borregans lent their voices to these interviews, including full-time residents, commuters, and weekenders.”
Read more from the Local Government Commission here: Community Voices
Borrego’s Path to Resilience in the Face of Change
“As a new year begins, Borrego Springs is eager for opportunities to ensure community resilience while protecting the local economy and the region’s precious ecosystems. In the face of many obstacles, not all hope is lost. This article wraps up the four-part series, highlighting the revitalization of the Borrego Valley Stewardship Council and their efforts to pave the way for a brighter future.”
Read more from the Local Government Commission here: Borrego’s Path to Resilience in the Face of Change
IMAGE CREDIT: Photo of Borrego Springs by Jim Mullhaupt
SGMA IN ACTION: Challenges and opportunities, Environmental justice considerations, and first lawsuits over GSP plans
Critically overdrafted groundwater basins submitted their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) in January 2020, and high and medium priority subbasins will be submitting their GSPs in 2022. At the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, a panel provided an update on Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation, including issues being litigated in first impression lawsuits across the state. Best practices for groundwater allocation and trading, and incorporation of environmental justice concerns into GSPs. How agencies address CEQA compliance for GSA Project and Management Actions were also discussed.
Eric Averett, general manager of Roseville-Rio Bravo Water Storage District: Since 1991, Eric has been actively involved in evaluating and resolving water supply and quality challenges facing Kern County. Eric Averett serves as president of the Kern River Watershed Coalition. He sits on the board of directors for the Water Association of Kern County and the Association of California Water Agencies.
Camille Pannu, a visiting clinical law professor at the Community and Economic Development Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law: Prior to joining UC Irvine, she served as the inaugural director for the Water Justice Clinic at UC Davis School of Law, the first clinic of its kind in the country. Her practice uses administrative advocacy, strategic research, and transactional legal tools to address the impact of racial and economic inequality on access to clean, safe drinking water in California’s low-income communities.
Tom Lippe, public interest environmental law attorney: He has been actively involved since 1987 in cases dealing with land use, CEQA, NEPA, surface water, groundwater, coastal protection, and endangered species. Mr. Lippe’s practice has included many cases involving the effects of land-use changes on groundwater resources and the effects of groundwater consumption on streamflow and endangered salmonids. Mr. Lippe is currently litigating two cases challenging groundwater sustainability plans adopted under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act for the Eastern San Joaquin and Delta-Mendota groundwater basins.
The panel was moderated by Natalie Stork, chief of the Groundwater Management Program at the State Water Resources Control Board, which is responsible for the board’s implementation of SGMA.
FREE WEBINAR: CaliWaterAg Water & Land Use Series Workshop – English (TODAY)
January 13, 5:00pm
– Ask questions on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), land repurposing options, and funding sources
– Share land repurposing option preferences and land-uses that haven’t been considered
– Share concerns about SGMA, land repurposing, and involvement barriers
WEBINAR GRATIS: Taller de uso del agua y la tierra en el Valle de San Joaquín – Español (mañana)
14 de enero, 5:00 pm
– Hagan preguntas sobre la Ley de Gestión Sostenible de las Aguas Subterráneas (SGMA), las opciones de reutilización de la tierra y las fuentes de financiación
– Compartan preferencias de opciones de reutilización de tierras y recomendar usos de la tierra que no se han considerado
– Compartan preocupaciones sobre SGMA, la reutilización de tierras y las barreras de participación
FREE WEBINAR: Americorps CivicSpark and the program for integrated groundwater projects under CivicSpark’s Local Government Commission (LGC)
January 20, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
The Sacramento Branch is pleased to host a presentation by Americorps CivicSpark and their program for integrated groundwater projects under CivicSpark’s Local Government Commission (LGC). The LCC is a non-profit organization that works to build livable communities and local leadership nationwide.
The presentation will provide an overview of the LGC in action and present three past CivicSpark projects:
- Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan Development
- Promoting Stormwater Capture for Groundwater Sustainability Planning Efforts
- SGMA Preparation and Stakeholder Engagement in Merced County and the Delta-Mendota Subbasin.
Each project will be presented by a current CivicSpark Fellow or Fellow Alumni.
Kamyar Guivetchi, Manager of DWR’s Division of Planning has often referred to Flood Managed Aquifer Recharge (or Flood MAR) as a “moon shot” for recharging depleted groundwater basins, but just how much Flood MAR can contribute to groundwater recharge in a watershed is unknown. However, the Department of Water Resources’ Integrated Watershed Management staff is underway with a pilot study to look at the potential for Flood MAR in the Merced River watershed.
At the October meeting of the California Water Commission, Mr. Guivetchi and David Arrate, Senior Water Resources Engineer with the Department of Water Resources, gave a presentation on the study and shared some of the preliminary results.
At the Groundwater Exchange, we’re working to update the website and adding new features.
One of those is the new Video Gallery, where you can find introductory videos on SGMA, SGMA videos in Spanish, and special topic videos on groundwater recharge, Integrated Regional Water Management, and more!
The Groundwater Exchange video gallery can link to videos posted on YouTube, Vimeo, or Facebook, so if you have a video to add, send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREE WEBINAR: The Why, What, and How of Groundwater Modeling
Tuesday, December 1st, 10am – 11am Learn how groundwater models can be used to answer key questions for planning, basin management, and engineering design; what types of modeling frameworks to use for answering certain types of questions; how model scale, settings, and parameters influence their ability to provide answers; what kinds of questions or uncertainties groundwater models cannot resolve; and hear about case-studies of types of models and how these were applied to answer key questions. Presented by Intera.
DWR WORKSHOP: Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program Applicant Assistance
Thursday, December 3, 2pm to 4pm On Oct. 30, 2020, DWR released the Final Implementation PSP for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program. On Nov. 9 2020, DWR will begin the acceptance of grant applications for Round 1. This solicitation will close on Jan. 8, 2021. An application assistance workshop will be held Dec. 3, 2020 at 2 p.m. to review the application process and answer applicant’s questions. DWR will host the meeting as a GoTo Meeting webinar. The meeting will be recorded and a link to the recording will be posted on the DWR website and emailed to subscribers of the SGM Grant Program’s email list as soon as possible following the webinar.
Farmland consolidations could save water, promote solar
“Hopes are rising in the southern Central Valley that the farmland expected to be fallowed in coming years because of drought and groundwater restrictions won’t sit idle but will instead be consolidated to make room for new land uses including solar power generation. Efforts are underway locally to create a system for piecing together parcels that would allow investment at a scale large enough to support substantial photovoltaic solar arrays — or ranching or creation of natural habitat, whatever makes sense financially for landowners. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Farmland consolidations could save water, promote solar
Western agricultural water values diverge, with expansion in permanent and high-value crops
Westwater Research writes, “Recent trends in the Western U.S. toward high-value and capital-intensive crops that depend on irrigation are changing the importance and value of water in agriculture, and such changes have important implications for water trading and water market prices. WestWater compiled data on agricultural sales and irrigation water use to provide a unique spatial look at the value of water in agricultural use across the Western states. Please enjoy a short Water Market Insider summarizing the data on agricultural water values, and feel free to take a closer look with our online GIS story-board.”
Ridgecrest City Council, IWVGA agree on recycled water
“If an options agreement between the city council and the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority comes to fruition, recycled water from the city’s wastewater facility could help balance the groundwater basin — and could potentially help Searles Valley Minerals stay in business. Sources at SVM, however, have said that while they are open to ideas “at this juncture recycled water for Searles is only a concept.” Both the council and the groundwater authorities at their respective meetings last week approved the option agreement between the two parties for recycled wastewater. … “ Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest City Council, IWVGA agree on recycled water
As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability. In many subbasins, groundwater overdraft conditions will require GSAs to impose reductions in pumping in order to achieve sustainable conditions in the subbasin. To do this, GSAs will need set a limit or “cap” on the overall amount of groundwater that is removed from the subbasin, assigning portions of this capped amount to groundwater pumpers in the form of a pumping allocation.
Making pumping allocation decisions will be a difficult task for GSAs, as it will require restricting access to groundwater resources upon which the agricultural community, cities and towns, and others depend. Adding further complexity to the task, SGMA explicitly states that it does not alter water rights, which means groundwater sustainability agencies have to carefully navigate between the confines of water rights and SGMA requirements in developing and implementing their groundwater sustainability plans.
At the 3rd annual Western Groundwater Congress, hosted online by the Groundwater Resources Association of California in September of 2020, Dr. William Blomquist, a Professor of Political Science and more at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, gave a presentation of ongoing research he is doing with Dr. Christina Babbitt, California Groundwater Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund looking at how other groundwater basins have developed groundwater allocations.
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.
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.