SGMA in the News

NEW RESOURCE: Bilingual video series helps explain SGMA

October 5, 2020

Are you interested in learning more about California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)? If yes, this channel is for you!
As a doctoral candidate, Vicky Espinoza’s work involves keeping farmers and community members in the San Joaquin Valley informed and engaged with SGMA. If you are a farmer or community member of California’s San Joaquin Valley and would like to become involved in my doctoral research you can email her at
Thank you!

Click here to visit CaliWaterAg on YouTube.

¿Está interesado en aprender más sobre la Ley de Manejo Sustentable de Aguas Subterráneas (SGMA) de California? Si es así, ¡este canal es para ti!
Como candidata a doctorado, el trabajo de Vicky Espinoza implica mantener informados e involucrados a los agricultores y miembros de la comunidad en el Valle de San Joaquín con SGMA. Si usted es un agricultor o miembro de la comunidad del Valle de San Joaquín de California y le gustaría participar en mi investigación doctoral, puede enviarle un correo electrónico a

Haga clic aquí para visitar CaliWaterAg en YouTube.

UPCOMING GROUNDWATER EVENTS: Groundwater hydrology, TCP contamination, Multibenefit recharge projects, FloodMAR, Groundwater allocations and legal risk, and more …

October 5, 2020

WEBINAR: California hydrology

October 6, 10:30am – 11:30am

The California hydrogeology webinar, presented by W. Richard Laton, Ph.D.,PG, CPG, CHG, focuses on the state’s:

      • Major aquifers
      • Physical and geologic properties
      • Groundwater use and availability
      • Groundwater quality and contamination
      • Surface water/groundwater interactions
      • Groundwater management issues.

Click here to register.

WEBINAR: Time is Running Out! More Than 100 Communities are About to be Left Holding the Bag on Tainted Water

October 6, 10:00am

Many communities across California–especially communities in the Central Valley–are negatively impacted by water contamination from 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP). TCP is a known carcinogen, and water agencies and suppliers impacted by this human-made contaminant may overlook the opportunity to sue the manufacturers that caused the contamination in the first place. Without taking legal action, these water systems are often forced to pass the high costs of treating TCP onto their customers. More than 100 water systems in California face significant clean-up costs from TCP in their water, yet only a few dozen have taken legal action against the manufacturers of the products that caused it.

Time is running out to bring these claims, and cities and water agencies that miss the deadline for filing a lawsuit will be left to pay to clean up these messes on their own. In this webinar, you’ll learn how groundwater contaminants like TCP and PFAS impact the health and wellness of communities across California, and how you can beat the December 31st deadline for making the polluters pay for TCP cleanup.

Click here to register.

WEBINAR: Multiple benefits of recharge projects

October 7, 12pm to 1pm

The next Lunch-MAR webinar hosted by DWR Flood-Managed Aquifer Recharge (Flood-MAR) program will be Wednesday, Oct. 7. The program will feature Maurice Hall with the Environmental Defense Fund discussing how recharge projects can provide multiple benefits and support resilience.

To register, click here.

VIRTUAL SUMMIT: Ensuring equitable involvement in regional water planning

October 8, 13, and 14, 8:30am to 1:00pm

The Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority and the Local Government Commission are sponsoring a no-cost statewide summit, with support by the Department of Water Resources to share strategies for engaging marginalized communities in regional water management as learned through local implementation of the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Disadvantaged Communities and Tribal Involvement Program.

The 3-day summit will highlight best practices and resources developed through this program, and elevate how lessons learned from IRWM underrepresented community engagement can be shared across other water planning efforts.

Click here for more information and to register.

PUBLIC WEBINAR: SAFER Aquifer Risk Map: At-Risk Domestic Wells and State Small Water Systems

October 9, 9am

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) will hold its third public webinar to receive input from interested persons concerning the identification of at-risk domestic wells and state small water systems.

This webinar will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about the draft map methodology and provide recommendations and feedback on State Water Board staff methods for determining “at-risk” domestic wells and state small water systems.

Registration Link (Zoom) | Pre-Meeting Survey Link | Draft Aquifer Map

WEBINAR: Flood-MAR and a Roadmap to Water Resiliency

October 14, 11:30am to 1pm

Dr. Graham E. Fogg, Professor Emeritus of Hydrogeology

By far the largest ‘space’ available for water storage is underground, especially in overdrafted groundwater systems. Although the history of groundwater development is characterized mainly by efforts to find and pump groundwater, the future of groundwater will hinge on working as hard on recharging groundwater as we do on pumping it. A new age of groundwater recharge and sustainable management will come easier if we more fully recognize the benefits of recharge, including the obvious benefits and some that are less obvious.

Click here for more information and to register.

WEBINAR: Navigating SGMA Groundwater Allocations & Minimizing Legal Risk

October 20, 10:00am to 11:30am

One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) centers on deciding who gets to pump how much groundwater without changing groundwater rights.

To provide more clarity to groundwater agencies on how to navigate this challenge, Environmental Defense Fund partnered with four leading law experts to develop a law review article that takes a deep dive into the relationship between SGMA and groundwater rights: “The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the Common Law of Groundwater Rights — Finding a Consistent Path Forward for Groundwater Allocation.”

This webinar will feature a panel presentation with the article’s authors, followed by a live discussion with the audience on navigating SGMA allocations and groundwater law.

The panel will feature:

*Eric Garner, Best Best & Krieger LLP
*Christina Babbitt, Environmental Defense Fund
*Russ McGlothlin, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
*Leon Szeptycki, University of Virginia
*Valerie Kincaid, O’Laughlin & Paris LLP

Click here to register.

NOTICE: Update to Bulletin 74, California Well Standards: DWR Convenes Technical Advisory Committee for Update of Well Standards

October 5, 2020

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources will be updating DWR Bulletin 74, California Well Standards and is convening a Technical Advisory Committee to guide the update.

Technical Advisory Committee

Committee members will represent a wide range of stakeholders and will convene from March 2021 to March 2022. The committee will break out in smaller groups to focus on specific topics. Those topics include the four well types included in the standards: Water, monitoring, cathodic protection, and geothermal heat exchange. DWR’s technical team will consider recommendations from the committee when updating the standards.

If you are interested in joining the committee, please email Sharon Hu, Kearns & West, at, by October 9, 2020. Kearns & West is collecting the candidate list for the committee on behalf of DWR.

Public Review Process

Once the standards have been updated, DWR will release a public review draft and will hold public workshops to collect and consider public comments before finalizing the standards. DWR will submit the final standards to the Water Boards for adoption into the Model Well Ordinance. Following submission, DWR will train well designers, installers, inspectors, and regulators in the updated standards.

Engagement Opportunities

You can get involved in the update of the well standards in the following ways:

Category: DWR Updates

DWR UPDATES: Submit fall groundwater level data to CASGEM in October; Members wanted for Well Standards Technical Advisory Committee; Application deadline extended for SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program; and more …

October 5, 2020

NEW Submit Fall Groundwater Level Data to CASGEM in October

Monitoring Entities for the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) Program are asked to submit fall 2020 groundwater level measurements to the CASGEM Online System (OS) in October. The data is due within 30 days of collection, and no later than December 31.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) understands the COVID-19 pandemic and state emergency declarations may interfere with timely data collection. If fall data cannot be collected in a timely manner, then a “no measurement code” should be submitted.

Monitoring wells in a basin/subbasin that are not transferred to a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) remain associated with the original agency and have automatically been designated as voluntary wells in the CASGEM OS. DWR encourages the continued monitoring of these wells because groundwater level data is important for understanding conditions within the basin.

For technical issues or questions, please connect with your Region Office CASGEM contact found on the CASGEM webpage.

NEW Members Wanted for Well Standards Technical Advisory Committee

DWR is forming a Technical Advisory Committee for the update to DWR Bulletin 74, California Well Standards. The committee will convene from March 2021 to March 2022 and members will break out into smaller groups to focus on specific issues.

If you’re interested in joining the committee, please email Julie Haas by October 9, 2020, at

Submit ideas or comments related to California Well Standards on the Bulletin 74 comment portal and sign up to receive emailed updates and announcements.

NEW Application Deadline Extended for SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program

The application deadline for the California Department of Conservation SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program has been extended to October 15, 2020, because of the statewide fire emergency.

The grant provides funds for watershed coordinator positions and projects in high- and medium-priority basins. Special districts, GSAs, GSAs with approved alternatives, nonprofit groups, local governments, and tribes may apply.

For questions, email or call (916) 324-0850.

NEW DWR Publishes Article on Community Member Involvement in Groundwater Planning

A new digital article Clean, Reliable Water: How to Get a Seat at the Table for Groundwater Planning is available on the DWR website. The article explains how community members can be involved in groundwater planning.

Additional articles can be viewed on the DWR Updates webpage.

REMINDER Written Translation Services Available

DWR’s written translation service is available to help with communication to non-English speaking constituents. Translation services for materials are available in Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Applicants can submit up to 5,000 words per basin/subbasin.

For details, visit the Written Translation tab on the Assistance and Engagement webpage.

REMINDER Public Meetings Can Be Held Remotely During Pandemic

Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-25-20 encourages elected officials to conduct public meetings by teleconference or other electronic venue during the pandemic. The order temporarily waives requirements in the Bagley-Keene Act and Brown Act as long as specific requirements are met. The order applies to GSAs and others involved in the implementation of SGMA.

REMINDER Submit Your GSP Initial Notification

Before starting a GSP, agencies are required to notify DWR in writing using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System. The portal allows edits to be made to previously submitted Initial Notifications, including the ability to withdraw a submittal.

For more information, contact the regional coordinators in DWR’s four Regional Offices. For assistance with the system, email

Connect with Your Basin Point of Contact

DWR has designated basin points of contact to assist local agencies as they develop and implement their plans and to assist with applications for Technical Support Services and Facilitation Support Services.

For regional inquiries, contact

For general inquiries, contact

Category: DWR Updates

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: Watershed management, Water quality, Nonpoint source grant program

October 5, 2020

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Cooperative Watershed Management Program Phase II

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation has published a funding opportunity for the WaterSMART Cooperative Watershed Management Program Phase II.

Established watershed management groups may apply to this funding opportunity to implement on-the-ground watershed management projects. Eligible projects may address critical water supply needs, water quality concerns, or restoration needs, helping water users meet competing demands and avoid conflicts over water.

Applicants may request up to $300,000 for projects to be completed within two years. A 50% non-federal cost share is required. Applications are due on Nov. 17, 2020

Click here to access all the documents.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: NRCS Announces 2021 Priority Planning Watershed Areas for Water Quality

From the Natural Resources Conservation Service:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has named five priority watershed areas to help agricultural producers improve water quality across California. Producers in these targeted watersheds will receive focused financial and technical resources through NRCS’s successful landscape-level water-quality efforts, the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).

“We see a positive impact – both here in California and across the country – when we partner with producers to deliver conservation practices to critical watersheds,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in California. “These focused partnerships allow us to maximize the delivery of our conservation efforts and achieve greater improvements to water quality, which benefits the participating producers, the public, and our nation’s natural resources.”

Click here to learn more.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: 2021 Nonpoint Source Grant Program

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

This is a request for proposals for the 2021 Nonpoint Source (NPS) Grant Program – Clean Water Act section 319(h). The 2021 Nonpoint Source Grant Program Guidelines (Guidelines) are posted on the NPS Grant Program website ( The Guidelines describe program preferences, eligibility requirements, application process and instructions, project selection criteria, and the grant award process.

Learn more by clicking here.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: 2020 California Financing Coordinating Committee Virtual Funding Fair

The California Financing Coordinating Committee (CFCC) is pleased to invite you to attend a free virtual funding fair on October 22, 2020 (see attached flyer for more information). The funding fair will provide the opportunity to learn more about available grant, loan and bond financing options for infrastructure projects from federal, state, and local agencies.

 Representatives from water industry professionals, public works, local governments, and California Native American Tribes should attend. This includes city managers and planners, economic development and engineering professionals, officials from privately owned facilities, water and irrigation district managers, financial advisors, and project consultants.

We look forward to your attendance at the virtual funding fair. For more information about CFCCC, please visit the website at 

SGMA in the news

October 5, 2020

Small Farmers Shortchanged by SGMA

“When Governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014, he said that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” With the first round of plans made available for public comment this year, it appears that, while the state certainly ceded control to local management agencies, those same agencies have prioritized the interests of big agriculture and industry over small farmers and disadvantaged communities.

A June 2020 paper from UC Davis published in the international journal Society & Natural Resources, as well as work done by the Fresno nonprofit Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, have shed light on the procedural inequities. … ”

Read more from Estuary News here:  Small Farmers Shortchanged by SGMA

Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

A large citizens group has begun shaping a state-required plan to make certain Napa Valley groundwater serving world-famous vineyards and wineries is never sucked dry.  The Napa County Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee — 25 people appointed by the Board of Supervisors representing such interests as farming, wineries and the environment — was in action last Thursday with a Zoom meeting. …

Read more from the Napa Register here:  Citizens group begins deep dive in Napa Valley groundwater issues

Sonoma County: Healthy groundwater?

“Sonoma Valley has a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) that is working to produce a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) by January 1, 2022. The GSA is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agency made up of the Sonoma County, the City of Sonoma, Sonoma Water, Valley of the Moon, Water District, North Bay Water District, and the Sonoma Resource Conservation District.  The GSA process was mandated by state law in 2015, by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. Sonoma Valley is a SGMA-defined high priority groundwater basin for multiple reasons, large dependence on groundwater, possible seawater intrusion, and that in some areas, withdrawals are exceeding recharge. … ”

Read more from the Sonoma Sun here: Sonoma County: Healthy groundwater?

All invited to Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative’s town hall

The Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative (Solano Collaborative) will host its first Virtual Town Hall, where updates will be given on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Solano Subbasin.  Also offered will be background on SGMA; progress in developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP); information about groundwater science; and how the public can stay involved.  A question and answer session will be part of the program. …

Read more from the Vacaville Reporter here:  All invited to Solano Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency Collaborative’s town hall

East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water

Farmers whose only access to water is pumping from their own well will get their first glimpse at what the state’s new groundwater management law will cost them next month.  On Oct. 1, the East Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency (ETGSA) will hold a public hearing to discuss a groundwater extraction fee for property owners who rely on groundwater to irrigate their crops. The meeting is open to the public, not just those affected by the fee or those within the boundaries of the GSA

Read more from the Sun-Gazette here: East Tule GSA to charge farmers for pumping water

“Madness and arrogance” blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Two lawsuits accusing the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority of ramming through a plan that ignores water rights and, according to one plaintiff, is intended to “destroy agriculture” were filed this week.  At issue is a controversial $2,000-per-acre-foot fee approved by the authority last month that would be charged to certain groundwater users over a five-year period. That money is intended to raise $50 million to buy Central Valley water and, somehow, bring it over the Sierra Nevadas to replenish the overdrafted desert aquifer. …

Read more from SJV Water here:  “Madness and arrogance” blamed for one lawsuit against desert groundwater agency

Category: News Article

Consultants share their top 10 lessons learned from 5 years of SGMA implementation

September 3, 2020

From Montgomery & Associates:

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is a complex program with a new language that must be mastered by consultants, basin managers, and stakeholders alike. When California first embarked upon the SGMA journey five years ago, there was a lot of trepidation about implementing this bold and untested groundwater management program.

M&A’s SGMA team has worked on 13 Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs), including three GSPs submitted in January 2020. It hasn’t always been easy, and there have been plenty of bumps along the way, but we’ve learned a lot in those five years, and we are happy to share some of what we learned. …

Click here to read this article from Montgomery & Associates.

Rebalancing Agricultural and Natural Land

September 3, 2020

From Stanford’s Water in the West:

Over the next 20 years, San Joaquin Valley farmers may need to temporarily fallow or permanently retire over half a million acres of cropland as California pushes towards sustainable groundwater use.

But, according to new research led by Stanford University and The Nature Conservancy, using an informed approach to land management that engages and compensates landowners for dedicating land to habitat can spur recovery of biodiversity in local ecosystems and provide other environmental benefits for people.

While California’s San Joaquin Valley produces crops totaling over $35 billion a year on five million acres of land, expanding irrigated agriculture has led to significant challenges such as groundwater overdraft and drinking water contamination, along with major losses of biodiversity and habitat.

Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) – which limits groundwater withdrawal to bring water use into balance with supplies in California – provides an opportunity for conservation actors to work with farmers and re-envision the balance between agricultural and natural land. …

Click here to continue reading this article from Stanford’s Water in the West.

Research Briefs: CA Farmer Perspectives on Groundwater Management

September 3, 2020

From the Water Foundation:

Producing food requires large water resources, and in California, thousands of farms are mostly or solely reliant on groundwater sources. While farmers are integral stakeholders in sustainable groundwater management, the perceptions of individual farmers regarding water policy and management are not well understood.

Food system and natural resources researchers at the University of Vermont surveyed Yolo County farmers in 2017 to understand their perspectives on SGMA, water management practices, and policy preferences. In 2019, with support from the Water Foundation, Meredith Niles at the University of Vermont and Courtney Hammond Wagner at Stanford University expanded their survey and analysis to farmers in Fresno, Madera, and San Luis Obispo counties, in partnership with local county farm bureaus.

Together, these four county-level surveys of 690 farmers revealed many similarities in farmers’ perspectives, despite agricultural and sociocultural differences. …

Click here to continue reading at the Water Foundation.

See also: To Achieve Sustainable Groundwater Management, CA Needs a Bigger, Inclusive Table, commentary by Alesandra Nájera and Mike Myatt

Category: New reports

Sustainable for Whom? The Impact of Groundwater Sustainability Plans on Domestic Wells

September 3, 2020

From UC Davis Center for Regional Change:

Studies estimate that 1.5 – 2.5 million Californians rely on domestic wells to meet their household water needs (Johnson and Belitz 2015; Dieter et al. 2018; Pace et al. 2020). But because domestic wells are often shallow, they are also often sensitive to changes in groundwater levels. As such, sustainable groundwater management has an important role to play in safeguarding the health and safety of residents and the achievement of California’s recognized Human Right to Water. 

This report analyzes 41 Groundwater Sustainability Plans in 19 critical priority subbasins in California (in the San Joaquin Valley, Central California, and the Central Coast) to assess monitoring network coverage and the vulnerability of domestic wells to minimum thresholds (MTs), or the lowest groundwater level considered sustainable. …

Click here to read this article and download the report.

Category: New reports