SGMA in the News

PPIC: Creating Collaborative Recharge Partnerships in the San Joaquin Valley

October 11, 2021

Bringing the San Joaquin Valley’s groundwater basins into balance by the early 2040s is going to be challenging, but two neighboring groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) in Madera County are collaborating to move the process forward.

The PPIC spoke with one engineering consultant and one general manager—Joe Hopkins of Aliso Water District Groundwater Sustainability Agency and Sarah Woolf of the Triangle T Water District—to hear about their agencies’ efforts to comply with the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Click here to read this article from the PPIC.

PPIC: Improving California’s Water Market

October 11, 2021

How Water Trading and Banking Can Support Groundwater Management

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act mandates that local groundwater users bring their groundwater basins into balance by the 2040s, a process that will ultimately help individual users and their communities build resilience in an era of climate change.

As groundwater sustainability agencies and others face a future of pumping reductions and subsequent land fallowing, water banking and water trading may prove important tools to help manage this transition.

However, a combination of aging infrastructure and complex, conflicting regulatory structures currently hinders the expansion of banking and trading. Multiple actors can drive reforms to streamline these practices.

Keywords: Water Markets

CA WATER COMMISSION: Advancing Well-Designed Water Trading Programs in California

October 7, 2021

In March of this year, the Secretaries of the Natural Resources Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Food and Ag tasked the California Water Commission with initiating a thorough and inclusive public dialogue to frame state considerations around shaping well-managed groundwater trading programs.

At the June meeting of the California Water Commission,  the commissioners heard from a panel of speakers who discussed why groundwater sustainability agencies (or GSAs) might consider markets, what groundwater trading entails, its opportunities and limitations, and how it is connected to water accounting, allocations, and sustainable groundwater management.

The first panelist was Dr. Newsha Ajami, the Director of Urban Water Policy with Stanford University’s Water in the West and an appointed member of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission who gave a presentation on using a cap and trade scheme to diversify water supplies.  You can read her presentation here:  Dr. Newsha Ajami: Enhancing Regional Water Sustainability through Virtual Water Trading

Next, Steven Springhorn, the Acting Deputy Director of Statewide Groundwater Management at the Department of Water Resources, highlighted how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and related activities provide a framework and foundation to build off of to develop efficient and equitable markets and how those markets can help to collectively and successfully implement SGMA.  He also discussed the assistance available from the Department for SGMA implementation that can facilitate local agencies working towards developing allocations and markets.  You can read his presentation here:   STEVEN SPRINGHORN: Water Trading & the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

The third presenter was Dr. Christina Babbitt, the senior manager of the Environmental Defense Fund’s California Groundwater Program.  Her presentation focused on advancing well-designed water trading programs in California and included an example of EDF’s work with partners to develop a groundwater trading platform.  You can read her presentation here: DR. CHRISTINA BABBITT: Advancing Well-Designed Water Trading Programs in California

Keywords: Water Markets

PPIC FACT SHEET: Groundwater Recharge

October 7, 2021

Groundwater recharge is an important water management practice in California.

  • Recharge occurs when water seeps into the ground to replenish underground aquifers. Although some recharge happens incidentally—water flowing into the ground from rivers, unlined canals, or excess irrigation—intentional recharge can restore groundwater levels and store water for later use.
  • In coastal areas, intentional recharge prevents salty ocean water from entering freshwater aquifers. Recharge can also help prevent impacts from groundwater pumping, such as dry wells or sinking lands, while providing wetland habitat for birds, reducing flood risk, and storing water for droughts.
  • Active recharge is a longstanding practice in much of urban Southern California and parts of the Bay Area, Central Coast, and Central Valley.

Click here for the fact sheet in English from PPICHaga clic aquí para ver la hoja informativa en español de PPIC.

Category: Fact sheet

Q/A – Paul Gosselin, Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management

October 7, 2021

Below is an interview with DWR’s newly appointed Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management Paul Gosselin. Paul is a long-time water industry professional in California who will now lead the Department’s SGMO Office in implementing the State’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

What is your role with DWR and what excites you about the position?

The people and problem solving are two of the main things that excite me about working at the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). I joined DWR in July of 2021 as Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management.

A critical part of my position is overseeing the Department’s review of local groundwater sustainability plans as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The effort to advance local programs to sustain groundwater resources is among one of the most important decisions facing California today.

Continue reading at DWR News by clicking here.

Category: Media article

SGMA in the news

October 7, 2021

Dry wells, drastic cutbacks. For many Californians, drought hardships have already arrived

Staci Buttermore turned a faucet on the morning of May 28. She got nothing more than a stuttering sound, a staccato burp of air.  Her well, 95 feet deep, had gone dry.  For 24 years she and her husband had lived on a small ranch in Glenn County without a hint of water problems. Her husband’s family had lived there for a quarter-century before that, and every time the faucet was turned on, the water gushed out.  Suddenly, they had become the latest victims of California’s drought. … ”  Read more from the Sacramento Bee here:  Dry wells, drastic cutbacks. For many Californians, drought hardships have already arrived

Public meetings planned to discuss Colusa Subbasin

The Colusa Groundwater Authority (CGA) and the Glenn Groundwater Authority (GGA) will host two public meetings to discuss the Public Draft Colusa Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) next week.  “We’re at the culmination of a long process and on the cusp of implementing projects that will better monitor and enhance our groundwater,” said Denise Carter, GCA board chair and Colusa County Supervisor. “These meetings and the public comment period are a critical opportunity for stakeholders to give their input to the CGA and GGA before we approve the GSP and submit it to the state. I encourage every affected groundwater user in the subbasin to attend one of these meetings, review the plan and give us your feedback.” … ”  Continue reading at Yahoo News here: Public meetings planned to discuss Colusa Subbasin

Butte County supervisors back new water district

After a lengthy public hearing Tuesday, the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to support a proposed water district in the northwest county.  The Tuscan Water District would cover 102,000 acres stretching from Butte Valley, north and west to the Tehama and Glenn county lines, excluding Cal Water’s Chico Division. The district name refers to the aquifer beneath the area.  The area is almost entirely dependent on groundwater, and to meet the provisions of a recent state law, the amount that is pumped will have to be reduced.  A group of farmers proposed the Tuscan District to import surface water so less groundwater will have to be pumped. That’s because if conservation and other measures don’t achieve enough of a reduction in pumping, farmland will have to be fallowed. ... ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Butte County supervisors back new water district

Sonoma County: Release of final draft groundwater sustainability plans and opportunity to comment at upcoming community meetings

Sonoma County’s three groundwater sustainability agencies, Petaluma Valley, Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain, are releasing the Final Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) on October 1.  The GSPs assess the conditions of the groundwater basin, analyze the basin’s sustainability over a 50-year period, and identify projects and actions needed to ensure the basin is sustainable by 2042. … ”  Read more from Sonoma County here: Sonoma County: Release of final draft groundwater sustainability plans and opportunity to comment at upcoming community meetings 

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority requests public input

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 empowers local agencies to ensure groundwater resources are managed sustainably. The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority (OVGA) was created to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) for the Owens Valley Groundwater Basin which includes the Owens, Round, Chalfant, Hammil, and Benton Valleys as well as Fish Slough and the area around Owens Lake. The OVGA is a joint powers authority composed of Inyo County, Mono County, City of Bishop, Indian CreekWestridge Community Service District (CSD), and Big Pine CSD as well as two interested parties, the Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone Tribe and the Owens Valley Committee.  Even though the Basin is not in a critically over-drafted condition and was ranked by the California Department of Water Resources as a low priority basin, the OVGA elected to develop a GSP voluntarily over the last year.  … ”  Continue reading from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley Groundwater Authority requests public input

Video: Groundwater and Urban Growth in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is home to some 4 million residents and growing rapidly: another 1 million residents are expected by 2040. Groundwater is the primary water source for these communities, yet decades of overpumping have stressed the region’s groundwater basins, resulting in land subsidence, dry wells, and falling groundwater reserves. The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) seeks to solve this issue by mandating that water users bring their groundwater basins back into balance by the 2040s.  “Much of the discussion around implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in the valley focuses on agriculture,” said PPIC research fellow Andrew Ayres at a virtual event last week. “That makes sense, because agriculture is a key player in SGMA implementation in the valley. Urban areas, though they use much less water, oftentimes are highly reliant on groundwater, so SGMA implementation is very important for them as well.” … ”  Read more from the PPIC here: Video: Groundwater and Urban Growth in the San Joaquin Valley

Retired farmer warns of huge water problem

For many years. retired farmer Tom Willey of T&D Willey Organic Farms, pumped water onto his 75 acres of farmland in Madera County.  During his 20 years of farming, Willey didn’t think of much other than growing his crops and living off the land.  However, now he realized he was part of the problem and, if something isn’t done, the entire Central Valley could be in for a rude awakening when it comes to water issues.  “A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my friend, Matt Angell, who owns Madera Pumps,” Willey said. “He basically goes around and services a bunch of agriculture wells. He has been running cameras down people’s wells at a rate of about three a day. People have been calling him frantically of what is going on with their pump with no water or water quality bad. … ”  Continue reading at the Madera Tribune here: Retired farmer warns of huge water problem

Water is scarce in California. But farmers have found ways to store it underground

Aaron Fukuda admits that the 15-acre sunken field behind his office doesn’t look like much.  It’s basically a big, wide hole in the ground behind the headquarters of the Tulare Irrigation District, in the southern part of California’s fertile Central Valley. But “for a water resources nerd like myself, it’s a sexy, sexy piece of infrastructure,” says Fukuda, the district’s general manager.  This earthen basin could be the key to survival for an agricultural community that delivers huge quantities of vegetables, fruit and nuts to the rest of the country — but is running short of water. The basin just needs California’s rivers to rise and flood it. ... ”  Read more from the Capital Public Radio here: Water is scarce in California. But farmers have found ways to store it underground

Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update is available for public review and comment

The draft 2021 Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update is now available for public review and comment.  The Indio Subbasin, which is where most local drinking water comes from, is part of the Coachella Valley Groundwater Basin.   The update outlines how local water managers plan to meet future water demands, maintain stable groundwater levels, manage and protect water quality, collaborate with tribes and state and federal agencies on shared objectives, manage future costs, minimize adverse environmental impacts, and reduce vulnerability to climate change and drought impacts. ... ”  Continue reading from the Coachella Valley Water District here: Indio Subbasin Water Management Plan Update is available for public review and comment

DWR’S SGMO NEWSLETTER: AEM surveys, Draft Drinking Water Well Principles and Strategies Document, A week of webinars on SGMA efforts, and more …

October 7, 2021

From the Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Office:

NEW First Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) Surveys Complete and Additional Surveys Scheduled

AEM data were successfully collected in the Salinas Valley, Paso Robles, and Cuyama Valley in early August. Data are expected to become publicly available in early 2022.    

Additional AEM surveys have been scheduled to begin this fall in three areas of the state. The three areas include:

  •  Northern Area: Scott River Valley, Shasta Valley, Butte Valley, Tulelake, Big Valley (Lassen and Modoc counties), and a portion of Fall River Valley. 
  • North-Central Area: Ukiah Valley, Big Valley (Lake County), Santa Rosa Plain, Petaluma Valley, and Sonoma Valley 
  • Southern San Joaquin Valley Area: White Wolf, Kern County, Tulare Lake, Tule, and Kaweah.

Visit the AEM Survey Schedule webpage for schedule updates.  For more information, visit the Statewide AEM Survey Project webpage or email

NEW State Seeks Public Comment on Draft Drinking Water Well Principles and Strategies Document

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the April 21, 2021 State of Emergency Proclamation after two dry years to prioritize the protection of public health, safety and the environment, and to prepare for and mitigate the effects of drought conditions. Executive Action Item 11 specifically identifies:

“To ensure the potential impacts of drought on communities are anticipated and proactively addressed, the Department of Water Resources, in coordination with the Water Board, shall develop groundwater management principles and strategies to monitor, analyze, and minimize impacts to drinking water wells.

As was announced on September 9, 2021, the Draft Groundwater Management and Drinking Water Well Principles and Strategies are available for public review during the 30-day public comment period. The Draft Principles and Strategies are also available in Spanish. Public comments are due no later than Thursday, October 7, 2021 by 5:00 PM PDT. You can submit a public comment by the deadline or ask us questions anytime by sending an email to We look forward to hearing from you.

The state also held a public webinar to review the draft principles and strategies and accept formal public comments on September 23, 2021. Materials from previous public workshops and sessions, a schedule on the next steps, and more information for this effort are available on our Drinking Water Wells Principle website. If you have comments or questions, please email us at

NEW A Week of Webinars on Statewide Groundwater Management Efforts

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is hosting a week of webinars on statewide groundwater management efforts. More information about each webinar is included in the flyer to the right.   

  • 2022 Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) Submittal Workshop, Monday, October 18, 2021 from 10AM to 12:30PM, Click Here to Register
  • 2022 Alternative 5-year Update Submittal Workshop, Tuesday, October 19, 2021 from 10AM to 12:00PM, Click Here to Register
  • Resources for Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Implementation, Wednesday, October 20, 2021 from 10AM to 11:30AM, Click Here to Register
  • Accessing Groundwater Data and Tools, Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 10AM to 12:00PM, Click Here to Register

 For questions about these webinar events, please contact us at:

REMINDER Submit or Update Your Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) Initial Notification

The 2022 deadline for GSPs is nearing; if your GSP development has undergone some changes since your Initial Notification submission, please make sure visit the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System and ensure that initial notification is up-to-date . When logged in, the portal allows edits to be made to previously submitted Initial Notifications, including the ability to withdraw a submittal.  

If you have not submitted an Initial Notification, remember that before starting a GSP, agencies are required to notify DWR in writing using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System.

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

REMINDER June 2021 GSP Assessments Release and Live Q&A Webinar Materials

DWR evaluates GSPs to determine if they comply with the SGMA, substantially comply with the GSP Regulations, and whether implementation of the GSP is likely to achieve the sustainability goal for the basin. DWR evaluates GSPs within two years of their submittal and issues a written assessment. See the GSP Evaluation fact sheet for more information on GSP assessment outcomes.

DWR released its first assessments of GSPs developed by local agencies to meet the requirements of SGMA on June 3, 2021. DWR has completed its assessment and approved plans for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. The groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) for these critically over-drafted basins will continue implementing their plans to achieve SGMA’s goal of groundwater sustainability within 20 years.

DWR hosted a live question and answer webinar on June 24, 2021. Materials from this public workshop and more information about GSPs and GSP Evaluation are available on our Groundwater Sustainability Plans website. If you have comments or questions, please email us at

REMINDER Household Water Supply Shortage Reporting System Website Updates

 Individuals served by domestic wells who are experiencing a water supply shortage are encouraged to report it to DWR’s online Household Water Supply Shortage Reporting System. This information will help inform state and local agencies on water shortage impacts to households served by wells, and will help identify the need for local, state, or federal assistance.

To report a water supply shortage, go to the MyDryWell webpage, and click the “Submit Report” button. The form is also available in Spanish by clicking “Enviar Reporte.” The site has been updated with additional Helpful Resources for Homeowners, which can be found at the conclusion of submitting a report or by clicking the “Resources” button on the homepage.

For more information, email

REMINDER Draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020: Webinar Video and Presentation Slides Now Online

DWR held a public webinar meeting to present an overview of the recently released draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020 (Bulletin-118) on March 30, 2021, and the video of the meeting is now available online in English and with Spanish subtitles.

 Presentation slides are also available in English and Spanish.

The final version of California’s Groundwater is expected to be released in fall 2021.

For more information, visit the updated California’s Groundwater webpage or email

REMINDER DWR Releases Update to Fine-Grid California Central Valley Groundwater-Surface Water Simulation Model

DWR has released an update to the Fine-Grid California Central Valley Groundwater-Surface Water Simulation (C2VSimFG) Model, which can be used by GSAs developing water budgets for their GSPs. 

C2VSimFG Version 1.01 utilizes the latest version of the Integrated Water Flow Model software and corrects minor errors in the model files. These updates do not significantly affect the overall model calibration; however, resulting changes to simulated groundwater levels may vary by basin.

For questions or more information, email

REMINDER Multi-Language Groundwater Educational Videos Now Available

New SGMA groundwater educational videos in various languages are now available. All materials are available for public use and may be shared and added to websites.

“Groundwater: California’s Vital Resource” video: English, Spanish, Punjabi, and Hmong

“DWR’s Assistance Role in Groundwater Management” video: English and Spanish

REMINDER CASGEM to Monitoring Network Module Transition Frequently Asked Questions Available

 The CASGEM to Monitoring Network Module Transition Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document covers questions related to the Groundwater Monitoring Law, the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) Program, a GSP’s required monitoring, the SGMA Portal’s Monitoring Network Module (MNM), and a basin’s or subbasin’s transition from the CASGEM Online System to the SGMA Portal’s Monitoring Network Module .

For additional information or questions concerning any topics covered in the FAQ, please contact:

REMINDER Monitoring Network Module Updated to Accept Sustainable Management Criteria Data

The SGMA Portal’s Monitoring Network Module, the online reporting system for monitoring site data, has been updated to accept sustainable management criteria data for the chronic lowering of groundwater levels sustainability indicator. This data includes minimum thresholds, measurable objectives, and interim milestones. Following the update, GSAs must load the sustainable management criteria data before importing any new groundwater level readings to representative monitoring wells in the Monitoring Network Module.

For more information, view the Sustainable Management Criteria Data Submittal User Guide.

For questions or assistance, email

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. 

In response to the sustainable groundwater management community’s interest in guidance, resources, and examples on how to conduct public meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, DWR developed Tips and Tactics for Online Meetings.

REMINDER Groundwater Exchange Shares Information and Resources

 Maven’s Notebook’s Groundwater Exchange is a central, collaborative, and publicly accessible online resource center connecting water managers, water users, and community members with tools and resources to support the development and implementation of GSPs. ​While not a DWR website, DWR representatives have been on the Exchange’s Advisory Board since its inception as it supports the sharing of information and resources for SGMA implementation.

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

SGMA in the News

September 13, 2021

Proposed north Butte County water district stirring controversy

A proposal for a new Butte County water district is wending its way through the approval process, and not everyone is happy about that.  The Tuscan Water District would cover most of the northwestern county, excluding Chico. The area is dependent on well water. Under a recently approved state law, the amount of groundwater currently being pumped in the area will have to be reduced.  Each well owner is currently on their own. No entity speaks for them as a group. Proponents say the Tuscan Water District would be that advocate for the whole area.  However a handful of farming families own the majority of the land in the district, and opponents think they could stack the district’s board of directors to the detriment of the others. … ”  Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Proposed north Butte County water district stirring controversy

Butte Water Commission backs water district proposal

A proposed water district in northwestern Butte County Wednesday won a split-vote endorsement from the Butte County Water Commission, after a lengthy public hearing.  The commission voted 6-3 to recommend the Board of Supervisors support formation of the Tuscan Water District.  Even though the vote was just advisory, there were two hours of public comment. When the supervisors take up the matter Sept. 14, their action will also just be advisory, as the Local Agency Formation Commission is the entity that will determine whether the district is formed. … ”  Read more from the Oroville Mercury Register here: Butte Water Commission backs water district proposal

Cosumnes subbasin draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan available for public review

A 20-year plan that will govern how people in south Sacramento County and parts of Amador County use groundwater and pay to sustain its availability has been released for public review and comment. Comments are due October 20, 2021.The plan includes broad-based fees on wells and water usage, with the largest portion of the funds generated earmarked for projects that are designed to increase the availability of groundwater in the future.  The draft Cosumnes Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is a state-mandated plan for achieving sustainable management of groundwater use in the southeastern portion of Sacramento County and parts of Amador County. … ”  Read more from the Amador Ledger-Dispatch here: Cosumnes subbasin draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan available for public review

Cooperation, not opposition, is key to solving California’s groundwater management

Merced County supervisor Daron McDaniel and Calavaras County supervisor Jack Garamendi write, “Once again, we find ourselves in a drought and running out of water.  For the second time in the past decade, we are enduring another frustrating and uncertain period, asking how we will sustain the citizens of California as well as the agriculture that feeds the world.  Drought is not new to California and we have engineered one of the most comprehensive and complex systems on the planet to water our crops and people. What has changed is that the investments our grandparents made that allowed our state to bloom are now deteriorating, our water storage is inadequate, and we are woefully behind in managing the vast, but declining aquifer that runs throughout our state. … ”  Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Cooperation, not opposition, is key to solving California’s groundwater management

Madera County residents and farmers face groundwater challenge of a lifetime

Madera County is running out of time as groundwater levels plummet to new depths.  Wells are going dry everywhere. Drillers have months-long waitlists. Residents are scrambling for water tanks. And farmers will soon face a reckoning after agriculture’s footprint, particularly nut trees, has more than doubled in the past 50 years — far outpacing irrigation supplies.  There’s growing consensus among farmers, county officials and residents that Madera’s groundwater problem will be solved mainly by cutting water demand, not by waiting for more dams to be built or even recharging excess water into the aquifer. … ”  Read more from the Fresno Bee here:  Madera County residents and farmers face groundwater challenge of a lifetime

Madera commentary: Is anyone listening?

Tom Willey with T&D Willey Farms writes, “One courageous voice in our community has been sounding the alarm that our precious aquifer, lifeblood of our economy, households, and public facilities, is in imminent collapse. For the better part of this year, Matt Angell, managing partner of Madera Pumps Inc., has been reeling his video camera down failing wells across the county, stunned by the unprecedented conditions he is witnessing. Plunging water levels, well casings crushed and split like beer cans, and good wells reduced to a trickle of their recent selves, have Matt sounding the cry that our community must respond in equal measure to the challenge before us. We are not. Is anyone listening? … ”  Continue reading at the Madera Tribune here: Madera commentary: Is anyone listening?

Some Monterey County growers are risking a fragile resource to survive the drought.

In the midst of a widespread drought, Lakes San Antonio and Nacimiento, critically important reservoirs for Monterey County, are at their lowest capacity levels since 2017. When the lakes get low, the ability to get enough water to some agricultural growers gets complicated. Add politics and Covid to the mix and you get the scramble underway between the region’s sewage agency, the city of Salinas and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to deliver water to thousands of acres of crops and protect a fragile underground water supply. … ”  Read more from the Monterey County Weekly here: Some Monterey County growers are risking a fragile resource to survive the drought.

Edna Valley farmers, residents, and water companies collaborate on plan to stabilize groundwater basin

Water wells in the Edna Valley used to be shallow: “You could put a well to 30 or 40 feet. Well that’s just kind of unrealistic [now],” Edna Valley Growers Mutual Company President Bob Schiebelhut said.  Some of those shallow wells didn’t make it through the last drought, drying up and forcing landowners to drill a little deeper. Now in a new drought, Edna Valley farmers and residents are once again praying for rain, Schiebelhut said. But they’re also moving forward with SLO County and the city of SLO on a plan to make their groundwater more drought resilient. The 30-day comment period on a draft of that plan—which covers approximately 20 square miles from the city of San Luis Obispo and Cal Poly to Lopez Reservoir just before Orcutt Road meets Lopez Drive—ends on Sept. 19. … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: Edna Valley farmers, residents, and water companies collaborate on plan to stabilize groundwater basin

SLO County develops tools to sell, transfer, and exchange state water

Fifth District SLO County Supervisor Debbie Arnold’s concerns about groundwater banking persist as the county takes steps to enable more flexibility for its unused State Water Project water.  “I’ve been pretty clear all along, I don’t want to ever see our basins here in the county be used for groundwater banks at all, especially with state water,” Arnold said during the Aug. 24 Board of Supervisors meeting. “If we have excess state water, I think we start to concentrate—where we build the infrastructure to put it in above ground storage like Lopez [Lake], so that people in our county can use it. … But not groundwater banking.” … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County develops tools to sell, transfer, and exchange state water

Cuyama Valley groundwater basin joins growing list of post-SGMA comprehensive groundwater adjudications

Facing depleting groundwater supplies, a group of landowners in the Cuyama Valley Groundwater Basin, which overlies parts of Ventura, Kern, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties, filed a complaint for a comprehensive adjudication of all the groundwater rights in the basin. In the wake of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Act (“SGMA”), which requires regulation of groundwater for long-term sustainability, and as drought affects water supplies throughout California, a growing number of adjudications are being filed under the Comprehensive Groundwater Adjudication Statute, California Code of Civil Procedure sections 830 et seq. This is the fifth such adjudication filed since 2015, when the California Legislature revised the process for comprehensive groundwater adjudications. These adjudications resolve all water rights in a given groundwater basin. … ”  Read more from O’Melveny here: Cuyama Valley groundwater basin joins growing list of post-SGMA comprehensive groundwater adjudications

Groundwater storage increases for local Chino Basin rights holders

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge today ruled that local agencies that pump water from the Chino Basin can store and access an additional six-month supply of groundwater, providing significant benefit for 1.5 million people across Inland Southern California.  The ruling by Judge Stanford Reichert on this single element of the Chino Basin Optimum Basin Management Program (OBMP) means water providers in the region can retain use of the stockpiled groundwater, worth about $50 million, and have room for more. The Chino Basin Watermaster Board of Directors and staff and the cooperating agencies worked together to craft this solution over the course of several years. … ”  Read more from ACWA Water News here: Groundwater storage increases for local Chino Basin rights holders

A Test for California’s Groundwater Regulations in the Megadrought

September 7, 2021

California’s megadrought has brought forth competition for scarce water supplies. Brownstein Hyatt shareholder Stephanie Osler Hastings examines implementation of the California Legislature’s first comprehensive groundwater regulation to deal with the issue, enacted in 2014, in this context. She also looks at recent challenges to these rules.

Click here to read the article from Bloomberg Law.

Category: Media article

Sustainable Conservation Releases Key Water Quality Guidance for On-Farm Recharge

September 5, 2021

From Sustainable Conservation:

Sustainable Conservation, a San Francisco- and Modesto-based non-profit, has developed two key resources to inform on-farm recharge practices that are protective of water quality.

Protecting Water Quality

Over 600,000 Californians rely on nitrate-contaminated public supply wells for their household water needs. Many others struggle with contaminated groundwater from private, domestic wells – so the numbers are even greater. Recharging groundwater with water quality as a top priority will help the San Joaquin Valley – our nation’s premier farming region – manage through California’s inevitable droughts, ensure safe drinking water for farm-adjacent communities, and support a thriving agricultural economy as the region complies with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Achieving Groundwater Sustainability

Conceived in coordination with a diverse group of stakeholders and supported by a committee of San Joaquin Valley leaders, our nitrate management brief and water quality research paper compile the best available science with Sustainable Conservation’s decade-plus of on-the-ground experience with groundwater recharge. Replenishing aquifers by allowing surface water to seep into the ground has great potential to help water managers and agricultural communities achieve groundwater sustainability. However, when recharging on farm fields – a practice known in water management circles as Agricultural Managed Aquifer Recharge (AgMAR) – the potential mobilization of nitrate and salts is a serious concern, and this guidance suite presents field- and regional-scale considerations to protect community water quality.

Sustainable Conservation will share its new guidance widely with growers, water managers, community organizers, and our broader audience of friends and supporters through our various events, webinars, and publications. For all media inquiries, please contact Christa Harader, Sustainable Conservation Digital Content Producer. If you need technical assistance or would like to request a small group presentation for your community or organization, please contact Taylor Broadhead, Sustainable Conservation Water and Dairies Project Manager.

Click here to read the full press release.