SGMA in the News

Take a tour of the Groundwater Resource Hub

March 17, 2021

You are invited to take a tour of the Groundwater Resource Hub, a website full of resources where you will find guidance, tools and examples of how to manage groundwater for the environment.

Environmental users of groundwater can include, but are not limited to Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs), Native Vegetation and Interconnected Surface Water (ISW), etc. This tour will last 4 weeks, hitting your email the next four Thursdays. Each week you can delve into a specific topic relevant to incorporating the environment into Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

The weekly schedule consists of:

March 11th: Identify and Determine Impacts to the Environment

March 18th: Consider the Environment when establishing Sustainable Management Criteria

March 25th: Incorporate the Environment into the Monitoring Network (to fill data gaps)

April 1st: Identify Projects and Management Actions that Maintain or Improve the environment

To signup to receive the remainder of the Groundwater Resources Hub Tour, email Leslie Jordan at ljordan@TNC.ORG .


Q&A: Vicky Espinoza with CaliWaterAg

March 17, 2021

Vicky Espinoza is a Ph.D. Candidate advised by Dr. Joshua Viers in the Environmental Systems Graduate Group at the University of California Merced. As a Latina in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), she has been actively involved in making science and mathematics accessible to underrepresented, Spanish-speaking communities throughout her educational career.

Q: Can you share a brief introduction of your research and CaliWaterAg?

A: Many studies have projected that more than 10% of agricultural land will need to go out of production to address groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley. Taking land out of production is difficult and something that cannot be done randomly since there are impacts to people’s livelihood and the economy.  My doctoral work addresses how and where this is going to happen in a way that minimizes impacts to already vulnerable communities and farmers in the Valley.

Click here to continue reading at the NGO Groundwater Collaborative.

Click here to view the CaliWaterAg channel on YouTube.


SGMA in the news

March 17, 2021

California growers face groundwater restrictions

In the wake of one of the state’s worst droughts in modern history, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) became law in California in 2014. It’s intended to ensure better local and regional management of groundwater use, with the overall goal being sustainable groundwater management by 2042.  The state’s growers will face increasing pressure to justify their water usage, and depending on their location, could face tough restrictions. Irrigation suppliers are of course very familiar with the law, so we asked them how they can help growers, and what advice they might offer. Here’s a sampling of their responses … ”  Read more from Growing Produce here: California growers face groundwater restrictions

Groundwater information is no longer out of depth

Water is constantly on the move: through the air, through waterways, and underground. Life depends on a consistent supply of water and details about its journey are necessary for understanding and managing this dynamic resource.  However, those details are often difficult to measure. UConn Ph.D. candidate Danielle Hare, in the lab of associate professor of Natural Resources and the Environment Ashley Helton, has expanded on a novel method to easily access vital details about groundwater, and in doing so, they have discovered that many streams are more vulnerable to stressors like climate change than previously thought. The team has published their findings in the latest issue of Nature Communications. … ”  Read more from Water Online here: Groundwater information is no longer out of depth

Managing water and crops with groundwater salinity – a growing menace

Aerial view of fields in western San Joaquin Valley suffering from severe salinization. Photo by Scott Bauer/USDA

Salinity is an eventual threat to agriculture and groundwater sustainability in parts of California, and other irrigated parts of the world. Irrigation, lower groundwater levels, and natural conditions have dramatically increased groundwater salinity in parts of California over the last 150 years (Hansen et al. 2018). Nearly two million tons of salt accumulates per year in the San Joaquin Valley (CV-SALTS), where 250,000 acres of irrigated land have been fallowed, 1.5 million acres are potentially salt-impaired (Great Valley Center 2005), with $1.2 – $2.2 billion/year losses by 2030 (Howitt et al. 2009) without management. Managing groundwater with salinity can differ fundamentally from conjunctive water management without salinity, which was summarized in a previous blog post. … ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Managing water and crops with groundwater salinity – a growing menace

Paso Robles: Supervisors discuss water resources and amendments

” …  After closed session, the Board returned to hear the Water Management Amendment 18 to Water Supply Contract between the State of California Department of Water Resources and San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.  This amendment would give more flexibility to the county in how they want to use any additional water over the allowed holding while still requiring that every use would have to come before the Board to be approved.  Peschong stated his concerns on behalf of his constituents, “We really have gone out of our way not to allow water banking. If I can cut to one thing, this is what I worry about. [The verbiage of the amendment is] not strong enough to let the state know this is not the place they can store water underground.” ... ”  Read more from the Paso Robles Press here: Paso Robles: Supervisors discuss water resources and amendments

Commentary: Dry year intensifies focus on California groundwater

Danny Merkley, director of water resources for the California Farm Bureau writes, “Each March, those of us involved in water policy commemorate National Groundwater Awareness Week. Because groundwater represents such a precious resource to California farmers and ranchers, Farm Bureau works to promote groundwater awareness throughout the year.  In 2014, the state Legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, the most sweeping water management legislation in 100 years. Since then, the California Farm Bureau has been assisting members with understanding, engaging and complying with SGMA.  Groundwater aquifers are best understood and managed locally; therefore, the key to successfully implementing SGMA lies in maintaining local control, something Farm Bureau vigorously advocates. In addition, we have stressed that to reduce dependence on groundwater, we must expand surface water storage and recharge our groundwater aquifers when excess water is available. … ”  Read more from the California Farm Bureau Federation here: Commentary: Dry year intensifies focus on California groundwater


Combined Well Standards Reposted to DWR Website

March 3, 2021

The Combined Well Standards, DWR Bulletin 74-81 and 74-90 are once again available for use. This web-based document was remediated to meet accessibility requirements.

The publication is an informal compilation of Bulletin 74-81 and the draft supplemental, Bulletin 74-90. Although Bulletin 74-90 was not finalized by DWR nor officially adopted into the Model Well Ordinance by the State Water Resources Control Board, it has been adopted into local ordinances around the state.

To facilitate its use, DWR has combined the contents according to Table 1 (B74-90) of Bulletin 74-90 and made minor modifications in wording and formatting to improve readability.

DWR is no longer able to post the PDF versions of the original DWR Bulletin 74-81 and Bulletin 74-90 on their webpage since they do not meet accessibility standards. They are available on the Internet Archive: Bulletin 74-81 and Bulletin 74-90.

Until the Bulletin 74 Update is completed, DWR’s project team hopes these Combined Well Standards serve as a useful resource for you in your work. For questions or more information, email Bulletin74@water.ca.gov.

Category: DWR Updates

New at the Groundwater Exchange

March 3, 2021

New tool on GSPs and dry wells

This tool was created to show you, the user, how groundwater management decisions will impact homes with domestic wells in the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”), created following the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, are in charge of how groundwater is used and managed. Policy decisions made by GSAs, and codified in Groundwater Sustainability Plans (“GSPs”), will either protect domestic wells or allow them to go dry.

Click here to view the tool.

For more data sources and tools, visit the Directory of Data and Tools at the Groundwater Exchange.


DWR/SWRCB Joint SGMA Webinar

On February 18, 2021, the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board hosted a webinar on groundwater sustainability planning, which included an update on how the State is moving forward with groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) evaluations, the timeline and approach to releasing assessments for GSPs submitted to DWR by January 31, 2020, and an overview of state assistance to support locals moving forward with SGMA implementation.

Click here to watch the webinar.
The webinar slides are available here.

For more videos on everything from IRWM to groundwater recharge,  visit the Groundwater Exchange’s video gallery.


Fact sheets available from the California Farm Bureau Federation

FACT SHEET: Lowering groundwater levels:  Chronic lowering of groundwater levels can occur when the volume of groundwater pumped exceeds the volume of recharge, year over year. SGMA requires that Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) set forth actions to stabilize and/or improve groundwater levels. Prepared by the California Farm Bureau Federation.  Click here for the fact sheet.

FACT SHEET: Reduction of storage: Reductions in groundwater storage are reflected in falling groundwater levels and can occur when the volume of groundwater pumped exceeds the volume replenished, year over year. SGMA requires that Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) address significant and unreasonable reductions of groundwater storage.  Prepared by the California Farm Bureau Federation.  Click here for the fact sheet.

FACT SHEET: Degraded Water Quality:  Managing groundwater quality is critical to ensure that all beneficial users have access to safe and reliable
groundwater supply that meets current and future demands. SGMA requires that Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) set forth actions to avoid or mitigate degradation of groundwater quality as a result of projects or management actions implemented as part of the GSP.  Brochure by the California Farm Bureau Federation.  Click here for the fact sheet.

FACT SHEET: Surface water depletions: Natural variability is common in streamflow and wetland areas in California. Groundwater may play an important role in surface water ecosystems such as streams, springs, seeps and wetlands. In those cases, groundwater pumping can exacerbate stream depletion and impact wetland ecosystems. In turn, surface water depletion can unreasonably impact fish and other beneficial aquatic uses. Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) must establish threshold values and set forth actions to avoid this undesirable result.  Fact sheet produced by the California Farm Bureau Federation.  Click here for the fact sheet.

Category: This week

Video: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

March 3, 2021

Drought has become an issue in California, and one way to help that are vineyards. California Ag Net explains how researchers are using farmland to recharge groundwater.”

Watch video segment from RFD TV here: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

For more on groundwater recharge, visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange by clicking here.

Category: News Article

Attractive and beneficial: Groundwater recharge basins can be both for people and wildlife

March 3, 2021

With the lack of rain this fall and winter, comes anxiety about California’s water future for people, wildlife, and agriculture in California’s Central Valley.

Our rainfall not only produces benefits at the surface like wildlife habitat and food crops, but it also recharges our stores of water below ground, otherwise known as groundwater aquifers. Even though we can’t see groundwater, and many of us don’t quite understand what it is, we all depend on it for the fresh water that we drink and use to grow our food. 

California is facing one of the largest resource challenges ever: how to recharge or refill a depleted water table in the Central Valley, a hugely important region for wildlife and agriculture. … ”

Read more from Point Blue here: Attractive and beneficial: Groundwater recharge basins can be both for people and wildlife

For more on groundwater recharge, visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange by clicking here.


Groundwater salinization in California’s Tulare Lake Basin, the ABCSAL model

March 3, 2021

Lower groundwater levels can prevent drainage of water and salts from a basin and increase aquifer salinity that eventually renders the groundwater unsuitable for use as drinking water or irrigation without expensive desalination. Pauloo et al. (2021)  demonstrate this process for the Tulare Lake Basin (TLB) of California’s Central Valley.

Even if groundwater pumping does not cause overdraft, it can cause hydrologic basin closure leading to progressive salinization that will not cease until the basin is opened by allowing natural or engineered exits for groundwater and dissolved salt. The process, “Anthropogenic Basin Closure and Groundwater Salinization (ABCSAL)”, is driven by human water management. …

Read more from the California Water Blog here:  Groundwater Salinization in California’s Tulare Lake Basin, the ABCSAL model


SGMA in the news

March 3, 2021

Ukiah Groundwater Agency moves forward with well monitoring network — expects groundwater regulation by June 2022

After a three month hiatus, the Ukiah Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency’s board held their first meeting of 2021 yesterday, at which they approved new board members, adopted an updated communication plan, and formally gained access to two parcels where they will expand their groundwater monitoring network as they work towards their goal of fully regulating and managing groundwater usage by June 2022.  In the past, no government has regulated groundwater usage in Ukiah nor in California. However, a 2015 law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA pronounced like the Greek letter Σ), changed that. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Ukiah Groundwater Agency moves forward with well monitoring network — expects groundwater regulation by June 2022

McMullin Area GSA awarded $10 million grant to expand On-Farm Recharge Project

The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), a Groundwater Sustainability Agency in the Central Valley’s Kings Subbasin, has been awarded a $10 million grant by the State Water Resources Control Board through the Prop 1 Stormwater Grant Program to expand the existing McMullin On-Farm Recharge (OFR) Project located near Helm in Fresno County. The Project is identified in MAGSA’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan and is a key element in a vision developed by MAGSA to achieve groundwater sustainability under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) through innovative approaches in groundwater banking and crediting. ... ”  Read more from ACWA’s Water News here: MAGSA awarded $10 million grant to expand On-Farm Recharge Project

Understanding the water consumption of treenut orchards

Tools such a SWIIM–which stands for Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management provids a new standard in water measurement that allows growers to receive an accurate accounting of the water both delivered and consumed by their orchards.  Kevin France, is the CEO and one of the Cofounders of SWIIM. “If you start looking at water from an accounting standpoint, like your CPA looks at your financials, and if you utilize your tools and grower relations team to help get your arms around what you are doing well and you keep doing it and you can quantify that,” said France. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here: Understanding the water consumption of treenut orchards

Double blast of lawsuits fired at proposed Kern groundwater bank

A major water banking proposal northwest of Bakersfield that won coveted Proposition 1 funding in 2018, was hit by two lawsuits earlier this month, one claiming it is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing intent on selling Kern River water to southern California.  The City of Bakersfield and the Kern County Water Agency filed separate complaints Feb. 2 against the Kern Fan Groundwater Storage Project seeking to have the project’s recently approved environmental impact report deemed inadequate. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here:  Double blast of lawsuits fired at proposed Kern groundwater bank


The What, Why, and How of Groundwater Modeling

January 28, 2021

Abishek Singh, Ph.D., is Vice President of Intera’s Western Region based out of Los Angeles.  His professional experience has focused on research and application experience in groundwater and surface water modeling, planning and decision analysis, risk and uncertainty analyses, optimization techniques, and temporal/spatial statistics. He has expertise in developing, calibrating, and applying hydrologic and data-driven models to support robust water-resources decision-making.

In a recent webinar presented by Intera, Dr. Singh gave a presentation explaining what groundwater models are, uses for groundwater models, how groundwater models work, and provided some case studies.

Click here to read this article at Maven ‘s Notebook.