SGMA in the News

STATE WATER BOARD: Update on SGMA implementation

June 11, 2020

Presentation discusses the GSP review process and highlights tools, resources, and assistance for GSAs

Since the legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed in 2014, the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board have been working to support the local agencies the development of their groundwater sustainability plans.  At the State Water Board’s meeting on June 2nd, Natalie Stork, unit chief for the Groundwater Management Program at the State Water Board, and Craig Altare, chief of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Review section at the Department of Water Resources, updated the board members on how implementation is going so far.

Click here to read this article.

The Past, Present and Future of California’s Groundwater

June 11, 2020

From Stanford’s Water in the West program:

A century after the state began overseeing surface water, the California legislature enacted a set of three laws regulating water below the surface. The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority of groundwater. However, its involvement existed long before SGMA and continues to influence current policies and regulation of the resource. A new paper published in Society and Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year history of California’s role in groundwater management and policy development.

Below, study lead Evan Dennis and co-author Tara Moran, discuss the state’s changing role from supporting to mandating groundwater management. Dennis is a research associate at the Center for the Analysis of Social-Ecological Landscapes at Indiana University, Bloomington and Moran is a research associate and sustainable groundwater lead at Stanford’s Water in the West program.

Click here to read this article.

REPORT: Groundwater Management and Safe Drinking Water in the San Joaquin Valley

June 11, 2020

From the Water Foundation:

To support the state’s implementation of SGMA and its continued progress on the human right to water, the Water Foundation commissioned an analysis of 26 GSPs in the San Joaquin Valley to understand how private domestic drinking water wells in the region will be affected on the path to sustainability. Among its key findings, the analysis estimates that the goals in these San Joaquin Valley GSPs, if not proactively addressed, will result in:

        • Between roughly 4,000 and 12,000 partially or completely dry drinking water wells by 2040
        • Between roughly 46,000 and 127,000 people who lose some or all of their primary water supply by 2040
        • Between $88 million to $359 million in costs to restore access to drinking water

State regulatory agencies must now work with these GSAs over the next two years to implement SGMA in a manner that avoids these impacts or finds suitable replacement for lost water supplies to ensure the right to water for all California residents. Further, more analysis beyond the scope of this analysis is required to explore the effect of GSPs on other areas of concern, such as impacts on the environment and on important infrastructure due to land subsidence.

Click here to download the report.
Category: New reports

Seasonal Maps Provide Snapshot of State Groundwater Levels

June 11, 2020

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) produces groundwater level change maps which show groundwater levels in wells throughout the state. When looked at together, these reports give a statewide picture of groundwater conditions and how they change over time – through wet periods or droughts.

Individual groundwater level change reports provide a snapshot of spring and fall groundwater conditions. Spring data is typically collected immediately before the irrigation season begins in a region. This helps show groundwater levels before summer crop irrigation and other uses. The fall levels are taken at the end of the irrigation period. To view the spring 2019 and fall 2019  groundwater level change maps, go to DWR’s Data and Tools webpage, and click on “Maps,” then go to “Statewide Groundwater Level Change Maps.”

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SGMA in the news

June 11, 2020

Mendocino City Community Services District creates special groundwater committee:  “At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting, the board discussed rain levels and a newly formed groundwater management committee.  As of May 19, rainfall totals for the current rain year are 50 percent of normal. Mendocino has received 20.32 inches during the current water year. The forty-year average for this time of year is twice that at 40.04 inches. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino City Community Services District creates special groundwater committee

Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans:  “There is no tougher playground than California’s water world.  Just take a look at the zingers flying back and forth between water districts on one another’s groundwater sustainability plans posted on the Department of Water Resources’ website.  “It’s like a giant game of dodgeball,” said Dana Munn, General Manager of Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans

Category: News Article

PPIC: A Review of San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plans

May 28, 2020

From  the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC):

Efforts to find solutions to the state’s groundwater depletion issues took a new turn when groundwater agencies for the state’s 21 “critically overdrafted” basins submitted their first groundwater plans in January. Last week the PPIC Water Policy Center held a webinar to summarize our in-depth review of plans for 11 of these basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where excess pumping is a major challenge.

“Our goal is to help build a shared understanding of how well these plans tackle core objectives, and to help further a conversation about how everyone can work together to achieve success and manage water resources in a way that’s going to build a strong foundation for the future,” said center director Ellen Hanak in her opening remarks.

PPIC research associate Jelena Jezdimirovic laid out important context and summarized key findings of the review. She began by describing the costs to the agricultural sector of ending overdraft in the valley—and how these costs can be mitigated by flexible water management and cost-effective new supplies.

Click here to read more at the PPIC.

ONLINE RESOURCES to help with virtual engagement

May 28, 2020

Having difficulty how to best engage with stakeholders online?  You’re certainly not alone.  We’re all trying to figure it out.

Below are some helpful resources.

FREE ONLINE CONFERENCE: Building Our Skills Together Online

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) have partnered to produce a series of online sessions The Building Our Skills Together Online Conference during June 2 – 4, 2020, on community engagement and equity during the COVID-19 crisis.

You Are Invited to Join Us in these free online sessions to hear from state, local, Tribal and community leaders as well as international experts in the field of public participation and engagement. Integrated simultaneous interpretation in Spanish will be available. Please see the conference flyers below, available in English and Spanish.

Although this is a three day conference of online sessions, there is no expectation that you must participate in all three days or in all sessions.  Many of the topics covered are intended to assist anyone who would like to learn more about:

• Using digital engagement tools effectively to plan and participate in virtual online meetings
• How organizations are adapting engagement practices during the COVID-19 crisis
• What it all means for equity and environmental justice

Please register at this link:
All sessions are free and online.

For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Sarah Rubin at or call  (916) 214-5731.

The Building Our Skills Together Conference is rooted in the experience that many people are going through during this crisis—the struggle to maintain connection in the face of the COVID-19 crisis and the even more pressing challenge to do better when it comes to authentic engagement. The crisis has highlighted once again, the pattern of deepening racial and ethnic inequities across health, the environment and the economy.

Local Government Commission’s New Virtual Engagement Best Practices Guide

From the Local Government Commission:

The current COVID-19 shelter-in-place conditions are shifting much of our work and engagement to virtual settings.

To help you and your community adapt to these new circumstances, LGC has developed the following guide to Virtual Engagement Best Practices.

This 12-page guidebook walks you through some of the most important considerations in developing your virtual engagement event, highlighting some of LGC’s lessons learned through our 35+ years experiencing connecting leaders and engaging communities.

We hope this guide will help you and your community develop more effective, interactive virtual events during this unprecedented time. Please share this resource broadly with your networks.

Click here for the Guide to Virtual Engagement Best Practices.

NEW REPORT: Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Water Security through Resilience

May 28, 2020

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Institute for Water Resources (IWR) released a report titled Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Water Security through Resilience.

With the water needs of society increasing and becoming increasingly diverse, water management and planning are more challenging than ever. Water security in all its forms is as important, but seems progressively difficult to achieve. Additional water storage and flood risk management is needed, but major new surface infrastructure projects seem unlikely.  Water storage underground (managed aquifer recharge, or MAR) is an alternative to augment surface storage and increase resilience of USACE projects while improving the Nation’s water security.

MAR is a term that covers artificial recharge, aquifer storage and recovery, riverbank and riverbed filtration, groundwater banking, and other mechanisms of purposeful water recharge to aquifers for later recovery.  MAR use has grown rapidly over the last two decades, progressing from an often-experimental concept to a management tool used in over 1000 sites around the world.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and its partners have engaged, or considered engaging, in the use of MAR in a variety of settings and purposes, throughout the United States. These purposes include:

      • Flood risk management -Recharge of floodwaters, in combination with surface storage, can dampen the flood peak.
      • Aquatic ecosystem restoration – Discharging stored groundwater may help maintain timely environmental flows.
      • Drought resilience – MAR can provide back-up storage for multi-year droughts without losses due to evaporation.
      • Salt-water intrusion prevention – Replenishing coastal aquifers can provide additional agricultural and potable water supply while keeping salt water at a safe distance.
      • Multi-purpose projects – Urban water projects can combine wastewater reuse, wetlands restoration, recreational and educational opportunities, and MAR.

This report examines how MAR has been, is being, or could be used in conjunction with USACE Civil Works water resources projects. The report summarizes some of USACE’s authorities for using MAR, provides numerous examples of USACE activities involving MAR, reviews the experience of other US government agencies and Departments, and considers how MAR can be integrated into the USACE civil works planning process and new initiatives.

The report is available for free download from the IWR Library.

Learn More

For more information, visit:

Category: New reports

NEW RESEARCH: Shrub encroachment on grasslands can increase groundwater recharge

May 28, 2020

From the University of California Riverside:

Grasslands across the globe, which support the majority of the world’s grazing animals, have been transitioning to shrublands in a process that scientists call “woody plant encroachment.”

Managed grazing of drylands is the most extensive form of land use on the planet, which has led to widespread efforts to reverse this trend and restore grass cover due to the belief that it results in less water entering streams and groundwater aquifers.

A new study led by Adam Schreiner-McGraw, a postdoctoral hydrology researcher at the University of California, Riverside, modeled shrub encroachment on a sloping landscape and reached a startling conclusion: Shrub encroachment on slopes can increase the amount of water that goes into groundwater storage. The effect of shrubs is so powerful that it even counterbalances the lower annual rainfall amounts expected during climate change.

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Category: New reports

MONITORING WELLS: DWR Helps Locals by Installing ‘Eyes Underground’

May 28, 2020

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed in 2014, requires locally formed groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to create 20-year plans, called groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). These plans map out how GSAs will manage their groundwater for long-term sustainability, which can be challenging when there isn’t a clear understanding of the movement, depth, quantity, quality, and interaction of groundwater with surface water in a basin.

To help fill in this missing information, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) works with local water agencies to install groundwater monitoring wells. Unlike water production wells, monitoring wells do not remove groundwater, but instead use one or more small diameter pipes placed anywhere from 50 feet to 2,000 feet deep. The pipes house electronic equipment that continuously measures groundwater level information. Groundwater samples can also be manually collected from these wells to check for water quality.

Read more from DWR News here:  Monitoring Wells: DWR Helps Locals by Installing ‘Eyes Underground’

WANT TO KNOW MORE?  Check out DWR’s Technical Services, which includes monitoring well installation, geophysical logging, geologic logging, groundwater level monitoring training, borehole video logging, and other field activities – and can even be at no cost to qualifying GSAs.  Go to this page and click on the Technical Services tab.

Category: News Article