SGMA in the News

SGMA in the News

January 27, 2022

Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”

Groundwater plans for two regions in the western San Joaquin Valley were deemed deficient by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Friday.  The Westside subbasin, overseen by Westlands Water District, and the Delta-Mendota subbasin’s plans were officially labeled as “incomplete” by DWR. The state also found groundwater plans for the Paso Robles and Cuyama water subbasins incomplete.  Managers of those plans will now have 6 months to make recommended changes and submit the plans for approval again. If the plans are rejected at that time, the state Water Resources Control Board could take over the subbasins and manage groundwater directly, or take other, more punitive action. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater plans for Westlands Water District, three other areas, deemed “incomplete”

Westlands Water District responds to incomplete determination for Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Today the Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that the Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Westside GSP) submitted by Westlands Water District, acting as a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, has received an incomplete determination under the provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The determination starts a 180-day window to address DWR’s comments. In response, Westlands Water District General Manager Tom Birmingham issued the following statement:  “Westlands has monitored groundwater conditions since the 1950s and has actively managed groundwater since the adoption of its Groundwater Management Plan in 1996. The Westside GSP, adopted pursuant to additional authorities provided by SGMA, includes numerous actions to ensure that groundwater levels stay at or above 2015 levels. The Westside GSP includes advanced monitoring, data, metering, and groundwater recharge programs to ensure that neither the groundwater basin nor the local communities that rely on it will be harmed by continued extractions of groundwater.” … ”  Continue reading at the Westlands Water District here: Westlands Water District responds to incomplete determination for Westside Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Humboldt County supervisors OK Eel River Basin groundwater sustainability plan

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors approved a state-mandated sustainability plan for groundwater in the Eel River Basin on Tuesday.  Required as a part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, the groundwater sustainability plan provides guidance on how to manage the Eel River Valley’s complex system of groundwater and surface water resources, especially during critical drought years.  The plan must be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources for evaluation and assessment by the end of the month. The plan must be updated every five years. ... ”  Read more from the Eureka Times-Standard here: Humboldt County supervisors OK Eel River Basin groundwater sustainability plan

Federal, local officials kick off millions in repairs to Friant-Kern Canal

Local and Federal water officials and lawmakers celebrated the groundbreaking of a massive project on the Friant-Kern Canal on Tuesday, marking the start of the canal’s restoration.  Coming in at $187 million, the first portion of the massive effort will restore capacity within the canal in a 10-mile portion that has been affected by subsidence: the sinking of the canal’s bottom from groundwater removal.  With 33 miles of the Friant-Kern Canal in total that have sunk due to subsidence, Tuesday’s groundbreaking kicks off the first phase of the Friant-Kern Canal Middle Reach Capacity Correction restoration project.  … ”  Read more from the San Joaquin Valley Sun here: Federal, local officials kick off millions in repairs to Friant-Kern Canal

East Kaweah GSA limits groundwater pumping

“In the face of deepening drought in October, the East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (EKGSA) passed an emergency groundwater allocation policy, and for the first time ever, the Tulare County area’s farmers were given limits and fines for how much water they can pump out of the increasingly parched ground.  EKGSA governs water for much of the eastern portion of the Kaweah Sub Basin, which includes the towns of Lindsay and Strathmore, and the Exeter and Ivanhoe irrigation districts and the farmland that surrounds them. Michael Hagman, EKGSA’s executive director said even in wet years and the rain in late 2021, they just aren’t seeing wells recovering. … ”  Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: East Kaweah GSA limits groundwater pumping

Ridgecrest: Water District focuses on recycled water for sustainability

The Indian Wells Valley Water District outlined groundwater sustainability priorities at the Water District annual workshop on Wednesday, January 19. At the top of the list were two projects: recycled water and improving data on the scientific model of the IWV groundwater basin.  The list of priorities were put together at the request of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA), a government agency tasked with drafting and enacting the local basin’s groundwater sustainability plan (GSP).  IWVGA is applying for a grant from the Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Implementation Program – Round 1. The grant could award IWVGA with up to $7.6 million to put towards local groundwater sustainability projects. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Water District focuses on recycled water for sustainability


DWR Releases “Incomplete” Groundwater Sustainability Plan Assessments to Agencies, Initiating 180-day Timeline to Correct Deficiencies

January 21, 2022

From the Department of Water Resources:

Today, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released four determinations on groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

DWR has found in its technical review that the GSPs in four basins contain deficiencies that preclude approval and the plans are determined to be Incomplete. The four basins include the Westside Subbasin, Delta-Mendota Subbasin, Cuyama Valley Basin, and Paso Robles Subbasin, located on the Central Coast and western portions of the San Joaquin Valley.

The basins with GSPs that are determined Incomplete have 180 days from today’s release of DWR’s determination to address deficiencies and resubmit their corrected GSPs to the Department for review.

DWR will issue eight additional determinations for basins that submitted GSPs in 2020 by the required two-year deadline.

The determinations can be found on the Department’s SGMA Portal. For more information related to these GSP Assessments, please find the Frequently Asked Questions: Incomplete Determinations & Next Steps on our website. For questions, please contact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Office by emailing sgmps@water.ca.gov.


THIS JUST IN … DWR Releases Additional Groundwater Sustainability Plan Assessments to Agencies

January 13, 2022

From the Department of Water Resources:

Today, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released two additional determinations on groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

DWR has approved plans for the Los Posas Valley Basin in Ventura County and the Indian Wells Valley Basin, primarily located in northeast Kern County. These two plans are approved with recommended corrective actions that the groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) will need to address in their next plan update, due in January 2025. The GSAs for these basins will continue implementing their plans to achieve SGMA’s goal of groundwater sustainability within 20 years.

The determinations can be found on the Department’s SGMA Portal. For questions, please contact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Office by emailing sgmps@water.ca.gov.

Category: DWR Updates
Keywords: 2020 GSPs

Comprehensive California Groundwater Update Released to Provide Better Understanding of Groundwater Basins

November 29, 2021

With California facing a severe drought and an increased reliance on the State’s groundwater basins, today the Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the final version of California’s Groundwater – Update 2020. The report, also known as Bulletin 118, contains critical information about the condition and use of the state’s groundwater, which is especially important as California faces the real-time impacts of climate change and drought.

“Groundwater plays a central role in sustaining our state’s ecosystems, businesses, agriculture, and people, with some Californians relying solely on groundwater for drinking water,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “The updated California’s Groundwater provides key information for the state and locals to better understand and manage groundwater as we adapt to variations in climate and navigate a historic drought.”

Click here to read this article from DWR.


OpenET: A Transformative Tool for Tracking Water in the U.S. West

November 29, 2021

Openet is a satellite-based data resource supplying crucial water use information in 17 Western U.s. States.

Using the best available science to provide easily accessible satellite-based estimates of water use, OpenET is being used to improve U.S. water management. The data is available on 17 western states, most notably the area covered by the Colorado River basin.

The “ET” in OpenET stands for evapotranspiration, which is the process through which water leaves plants, soils, and other surfaces and returns to the atmosphere. It’s a measurement that farmers can use to estimate the amount of water being taken up or used by their fields and crops and that will usually need to be replaced through irrigation or rainfall.

Click here to read more from NASA.

Category: Media article

California Spent Decades Trying to Keep Central Valley Floods at Bay. Now It Looks to Welcome Them Back

November 29, 2021

Land and waterway managers labored hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore the state’s major floodplains.

Click here to read this article from Western Water.

Category: Media article

Department of Conservation previews SGMA multi-benefit land repurposing program

November 29, 2021
The view from Calcareous Vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif. on April 28th, 2015.
Kelly M. Grow/ California Department of Water Resources

Upcoming workshops to gather public input on the new program

At the September meeting of the California Water Commission, Kealiʻi Bright, Assistant Director of the Division of Land Resource Protection at the California Department of Conservation (or DOC), gave a presentation on a new program being spun up to repurpose farmland being retired due to SGMA implementation.

Mr. Bright began by acknowledging that the Department of Conservation being at a Water Commission might be unusual because they are not a groundwater agency or any kind of water agency, but they are an agency with a suite of programs that invest in natural and working lands’ land use, they support conservation organizations that do work within natural and working lands, and they have different programs that fund permanent conservation in those lands.

So while we aren’t a water agency with water expertise, what we do have is a pretty a pretty vast and strong network of conservation partners throughout the state,” he said.  “We are really excited to help DWR, the Water Board, and all of you implement what is a little bit further beyond the horizon of groundwater sustainability efforts.”

Click here to continue reading this article at Maven’s Notebook.


UPCOMING EVENTS: SGMA Land Repurposing Program workshops; Fortifying water resilience; Sensitivity analysis to guide future data acquisition

November 29, 2021

Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program Stakeholder Workshops

The Department of Conservation will hold two workshops to hear what stakeholders would like to see in their upcoming Multi-benefit Land Repurposing Program.  These workshops are designed to give stakeholders the opportunity to provide input into the Department of Conservation’s proposed Multi-benefit Land Repurposing Program before program guidelines are developed.

Everyone is encouraged to attend all or a portion of a workshop, as time allows. A brief overview of proposed program components will be provided at the top of each hour during each workshop, with the remainder of the time available for discussion and questions.

WORKSHOP #1: November 30, 10am – 12pm.  Click here to register.
WORKSHOP #2: December 2, 5pm to 7pm.  Click here to register.


Water in a Warming World – Fortifying California’s Water Resilience

As climate change brings more extreme and variable weather, now is the time to work together to boost California’s water resilience. As we plan ahead for the next wet year, we must think holistically so we can replenish our aquifers – which provide 85% of Californians with a portion of their water supply – while being protective of water quality, providing healthy wildlife habitat, and ensuring our downstream communities are safe from flooding.

Join Sustainable Conservation on Monday, December 6th from 2:00 – 3:30 PM for the final webinar in our Water in a Warming World series, Fortifying California’s Water Resilience. Sustainable Conservation’s Director of Resource Stewardship and leader of our water team, Daniel Mountjoy, will sit down with a farmer that pioneered on-farm recharge, the Director of The Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program, and the Supervising Engineer at the California Department of Water Resources to discuss the best practices for groundwater recharge and the importance of taking a multi-benefit approach.

Click here to register.


Modeling under SGMA: Using sensitivity analyses to guide future data acquisition

Numerical groundwater flow models have played an integral role in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) across the State.

These flow models provide a framework for characterizing the effect of water supplies, demands, and management strategies on a Basin’s ability to operate within its sustainable yield. Confidence in these models are conditioned on available monitoring data that constrain historical simulation results.

In Basins where this monitoring data is limited, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are encouraged to identify methods of reducing data gaps and refining model predictions as part of their path towards achieving or maintaining Basin sustainability. Future projects, data collection, and model refinement can be facilitated through assessments of a numerical model’s sensitivity to specific processes and properties.

This talk presents an approach for using sensitivity analyses as a method of identifying data acquisition strategies that provide the greatest benefits during a GSA’s path towards sustainability.

December 15, 12pm to 1pm
Click here to register.

Category: Calendar events

SGMA in the news

November 29, 2021

STATEWIDE NEWS

State calls on local agencies to protect groundwater

For the first time in California history, local agencies and groundwater users are required to form groundwater sustainability agencies and develop and implement plans to guide how they will achieve groundwater basin sustainability goals over the next 20 years.  As part of this process, agencies overseeing management of high- and medium-priority groundwater basins have until Jan. 31, 2022, to submit groundwater sustainability plans to the state to be reviewed by the California Department of Water Resources, the agency tasked with evaluating and assessing the plans.  Last week, the agency released its second round of assessments of plans developed by local agencies required to bring groundwater basins into sustainability for the future. The actions are mandated under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.  The first round of assessments for critically overdrafted basins happened in June. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here: State calls on local agencies to protect groundwater

‘Everybody’s pumping.’ How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought

On the parched west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the drought has created a windfall for companies like Big River Drilling.  A water-well contractor based in the Fresno County community of Riverdale, Big River can hardly keep up with demand for new wells as farmers and rural residents seek to extract more water from underground. “I could work seven days a week if I wanted to,” said owner Wesley Harmon. “In my area, everybody’s pumping. You can’t blame the farmers. They’re trying to make a living, they’re trying to grow food for everybody.” … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here: ‘Everybody’s pumping.’ How California’s plan to conserve groundwater ran into a drought

Where is the water going? Small farmers struggle as ag titans wheel water for profit

Farmers in the heart of California’s agricultural belt – Kings County – sense something is awry with their water supplies. In this intensively farmed, perennially dry county, water is leaving at a concerning rate.  “We’ve all seen it,” said walnut farmer Steve Walker. “We haven’t sat down and put dye in the water to watch where it actually goes. But everybody talks about it, and we’re all concerned.”  As far as Walker knows, no agency, city or county board is trying to figure out what’s really happening.  “There’s so many canals and ways it can move; it’s hard to track,” he said. But this much he knows — certain groundwater wells in the county are running practically year round, even in wet years. “So, it’s going somewhere,” Walker said. “And that’s the biggest issue. Because once it’s pumped out, we aren’t getting it back.” … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Where is the water going? Small farmers struggle as ag titans wheel water for profit

Four valley groundwater plans fail to meet state standards – for now

Four groundwater plans in the Central Valley — including those for Westlands Water District, Chowchilla Water District and the Merced and Eastern San Joaquin subbasins — don’t show how they will protect water quality, keep drinking water wells from going dry or stop already sinking land from sinking further, according to the Department of Water Resources.  In short, those plans earned “D’s” in DWR’s first round of assessments of Central Valley groundwater plans. DWR expects to issue assessments on the remaining groundwater plans, about 36 that cover the valley from Madera to Kern counties, within the first two weeks of December. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Four valley groundwater plans fail to meet state standards – for now

Four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans deemed inadequate

The state’s water agency today lambasted groundwater plans drafted by some of California’s largest and most powerful agricultural water suppliers in the San Joaquin Valley, indicating that they fail to protect drinking water supplies from over-pumping.  The four large groundwater basins at stake underlie stretches of San Joaquin, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties that are home to nearly 800,000 people and more than a million acres of irrigated agriculture.  The letters sent by the state Department of Water Resources to the local districts that manage the basins have a common theme: a failure to address how pumping, largely for growers, will harm the drinking water supplies of local communities. … ”  Read more from Cal Matters here: Four San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans deemed inadequate

State’s groundwater “cop” weighs in on plans to stop over pumping and finds them lax

As California’s Central Valley water managers nervously await the first official Department of Water Resources responses to plans for how they expect to fix massive groundwater over pumping, some were dismayed to “stumble” on comments from a different, and very powerful, state water agency.The State Water Resources Control Board quietly submitted highly critical comments on five Central Valley groundwater sustainability plans in late summer that some local groundwater agencies only recently discovered.  Since the Water Board is the ultimate enforcement arm of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the significance of these comments was immediately noted by water managers. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: State’s groundwater “cop” weighs in on plans to stop over pumping and finds them lax

State’s groundwater “cop” hands out more criticism of valley plans

Another set of comments critical of how San Joaquin Valley groundwater plans will impact drinking water wells dropped on Friday from the powerful State Water Resources Control Board.  The comments focused on plans that cover the City of Fresno and many surrounding towns as well as Visalia and a number of smaller towns in Tulare County. Specifically, it commented on plans covering most of the Kings and Kaweah subbasins.  One of the Kaweah plans, which covers the communities of Lindsay and Strathmore in eastern Tulare County, could result in “the dewatering over over one-third of the domestic wells throughout the subbasin,” the Water Board letter states. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: State’s groundwater “cop” hands out more criticism of valley plans

Central Valley groundwater may not recover from droughts

Groundwater in Calif.’s Central Valley is at risk of being depleted by pumping too much water during and after droughts, according to a new study in the American Geophysical Union journal Water Resources Research.  The study finds that groundwater storage recovery has been dismal after the state’s last two droughts, with less than a third of groundwater recovered from the drought that spanned 2012 to 2016. Under a best-case scenario where drought years are followed by consecutive wet years with above-average precipitation, the researchers found there is a high probability it would take six to eight years to fully recover overdrafted water. … ”  Continue reading from Water World here: Central Valley groundwater may not recover from droughts


REGIONAL SGMA NEWS

Lake County: Big Valley Basin draft groundwater sustainability plan released for public review

The Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency and Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plan Advisory Committee have released the draft groundwater sustainability plan for the Big Valley Groundwater Basin for public review.  The Big Valley Basin Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan, or GSP, is now available for review during a formal 21-day public comment period that ends Dec. 3.  The GSP is being prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, or SGMA, which was amended in 2015.  Deputy Water Resources Director Marina Deligiannis told Lake County News that the Big Valley Draft GSP is the first and only draft GSP prepared for Lake County as required by SGMA. … ”  Read more from the Lake County News here: Big Valley Basin draft groundwater sustainability plan released for public review

WEIRD SCIENCE: The sky hoop will tell us about Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater aquifer

If you were in the Ukiah Valley yesterday, you may have noticed a helicopter towing a giant hoop in the sky. That hoop is equipped with technology that will fill an important data gap as agencies across the state try to figure out how to better manage their groundwater aquifers.  The Department of Water Resources (DWR) flew the helicopter over the area with Nordic company Skytem’s geophysical survey equipment attached to the giant hoop on Thursday, Nov. 11.  The signals that equipment sends to and receives from the Earth provide invaluable data about the structure of the groundwater basin and aquifer, but not how much water is inside them, said Katherine Dlubac, who is on DWR’s airborne electromagnetic survey team. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here: WEIRD SCIENCE: The sky hoop will tell us about Ukiah Valley Basin’s groundwater aquifer

Yuba Groundwater Sustainability Plan formally approved by Department of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources today formally approved the groundwater sustainability plan for the North and South Yuba groundwater subbasins in Yuba County. The plan was developed by Yuba Water Agency in coordination with Cordua Irrigation District, the City of Marysville and dozens of stakeholders to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA.  “The sustainable groundwater conditions in Yuba County and today’s announcement are testaments to the success of locally-driven water management,” said Scott Matyac, Yuba Water’s director of water resources. “We’re grateful to our local partners for their work on this plan and their continued commitment to protecting this critical resource for our region.” … ”  Read more from Yuba Water Agency here: Yuba Groundwater Sustainability Plan formally approved by Department of Water Resources

Commentary: Scary developments at Nevada Irrigation District

Jeff Litton writes, “You might have missed it, but something scary just happened at NID on Nov. 10. First, I want to thank our two excellent NID directors — Ricki Heck and Laura Peters. These directors are experienced, smart, and think critically.  The other three NID directors voted to remove NID from the Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a vitally important group of agencies that work together to protect the groundwater of the region. This network of agencies collaborates to make sure groundwater is sustainably managed, and thereby protects wells from going dry. … ”  Read more from The Union here: Commentary: Scary developments at Nevada Irrigation District

Sonoma County backs well water regulations, favoring new era of groundwater oversight

“Hailed as a complex and historic step, Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday unanimously endorsed plans to guide use and governance of groundwater relied on by rural residents, farmers and cities.  The plans, required by a 2014 state law crafted amid California’s past drought, will eventually include well water use fees in three basins underlying the Santa Rosa Plain and Sonoma and Petaluma valleys.  The plans, four years in the works and due for submission to the state Department of Water Resources in January, are “extraordinarily complex, politically charged and technically nuanced,” board Chair Lynda Hopkins said. … ”  Read more from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat here: Sonoma County backs well water regulations, favoring new era of groundwater oversight

Pajaro Valley Water Board adopts basin management plan: Groundwater Sustainability Update 2022

The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PV Water) Board of Directors unanimously adopted the Basin Management Plan: Groundwater Sustainability Update 2022 (GSU22) on Wednesday evening. The action came after more than a year of work on the plan by a 17 member Ad Hoc Sustainable Groundwater Committee, staff, consultants, and interested parties, which included 23 meetings in total. The Board meeting was attended by 29 people and many provided remarks during a public hearing, after which the Board took action. Adoption of the Plan, which includes newly developed sustainable groundwater management criteria, is a significant achievement and a requirement under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, a 2014 law requiring groundwater basins in California to achieve sustainable groundwater resources by 2040. A $500,000 grant from the California Department of Water Resources, under Proposition 68, provided funding for this effort. … ”  Read more from the Pajaro Valley Water Agency here: Pajaro Valley Water Board adopts basin management plan: Groundwater Sustainability Update 2022

Conservation ethic allows Monterey Bay farmers to thrive during drought

Despite October’s record-setting rains, Central Valley farmers are still reeling from having their water supplies drastically reduced when the drought intensified last spring. Many farmers have been forced to rip out crops that can no longer be irrigated. Some have doubled or tripled their groundwater pumping as wells dry up before their eyes.  In the Monterey Bay area, however, crops reach toward the sun with thirst-quenched leaves. Well levels aren’t raising any alarms and the threat of losing water supplies has mostly subsided.  “I don’t know anybody having water issues right now,” said Joe Schirmer, owner of Dirty Girl Produce, a 40-acre organic farm in Watsonville. … ”  Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Conservation ethic allows Monterey Bay farmers to thrive during drought

Ventura: CA DWR passes Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Fox Canyon GMA

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has approved the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency Groundwater Sustainability Plans, covering Oxnard and Pleasant Valley Basins—its two critically over-drafted basins.  The California Department of Water Resources released its second round of assessments of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) developed by local agencies to meet the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requirements. ... ”  Read more from The Patch here: Ventura: CA DWR passes Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Fox Canyon GMA

Rosamond Community Services District eyes eminent domain process to obtain water rights

The Rosamond Community Services District Board of Directors, on Thursday, agreed to begin eminent domain proceedings to obtain water rights from agricultural land owned by the Calandri family on Rosamond’s west side.  The Board unanimously approved a Resolution of Necessity, which declared it in the public interest to acquire the property for the water rights. Ed Lear, a litigation attorney representing the Calandri family, said they will challenge the action as a violation of the water basin adjudication. … ”  Read more from the Antelope Valley Press here: Rosamond Community Services District eyes eminent domain process to obtain water rights


THIS JUST IN … DWR Releases Second Round of Assessments of Groundwater Sustainability Plans

November 18, 2021

From the Department of Water Resources:

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released its second round of assessments of groundwater sustainability plans developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The first round of assessments was announced in June.

DWR has assessed and approved plans for the Oxnard Subbasin and the Pleasant Valley Basin in Ventura County, and the North and South Yuba subbasins in Yuba County. These four plans were approved with recommended corrective actions the groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) will need to address in their next updated plan due by January 2025. The GSAs for these basins will continue implementing their plans to achieve SGMA’s goal of groundwater sustainability within 20 years.

DWR has notified GSAs in the Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin in San Joaquin County, the Chowchilla and Merced subbasins in Merced and Madera counties, and the Westside Subbasin in Fresno County that their plans lack specific details and will need to address deficiencies to be approved. Prior to making a final determination, DWR is requesting a consultation meeting with the GSAs to discuss actions and time necessary to improve the plans.

The four basins must address a number of deficiencies including the effect of chronic lowering of groundwater levels and land subsidence conditions on groundwater users. The GSAs will need to further analyze drinking water impacts, including the development of projects and actions. Additionally, they will be required to thoroughly understand and avoid or minimize subsidence impacts on flood control and water conveyance infrastructure, as intended by the law.

“In light of the historic and variable climate conditions we are experiencing, these decisions reinforce that managing our water resources in an adaptive and inclusive way is how groundwater sustainability will be achieved,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We appreciate and support the role of local leaders in shaping how their communities manage the change that comes from creating sustainable groundwater supplies. DWR is committed to providing additional drinking water guidance for the local groundwater agencies to make public health and safety a top priority.”

SGMA initiated a new era of local groundwater management. For the first time in California’s water history, local agencies and groundwater users are required to form GSAs and develop and implement plans to guide how they will achieve groundwater basin sustainability goals over the next 20 years.

SGMA lays out a process for continuous improvement – gathering information to fill data gaps, updating plans, and promoting science-based adaptation. Plans will be updated as new information becomes available and as conditions change in groundwater basins. DWR will review annual reports and assess each plan every five years to determine if the GSAs are on track to meet their basins’ goal.

Despite the long-term timeline, SGMA requires near-term actions that will help the state manage water resources during dry and drought years. For example, GSAs have been required to submit annual progress reports since 2020 with the most up-to-date monitoring and plan implementation information for their groundwater basins, including groundwater levels and use. This data can be accessed on the SGMA Portal.

By tracking conditions and implementation performance, the state and local agencies can better manage water resources during average and wet years to ensure groundwater will be available as a buffer during dry years.

In addition to and aligned with plan evaluation, DWR continues to support GSAs by providing planning, technical, and financial assistance. In April, DWR announced $26 million in grant funding for project investments to improve water supply security, water quality and the reliability of groundwater. Last month, DWR also released draft guidelines for public comment on planning and implementation of an additional $300 million for SGMA implementation.

These efforts align with the Newsom Administration’s goal to provide significant additional funding for projects to improve groundwater conditions and advance safe drinking water efforts for groundwater-dependent communities identified in the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio.

For more information about DWR’s available assistance, watch this video and visit the assistance and engagement webpage.