SGMA in the News

How water justice groups view groundwater sustainability planning

October 21, 2020

Over-pumping of groundwater has caused domestic wells to go dry in the San Joaquin Valley. Yet many of the first round of plans prepared to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) do not yet propose ways to address this problem. We explored groundwater planning with three members of the environmental justice community—Angela Islas of Self-Help Enterprises, Justine Massey of the Community Water Center, and Amanda Monaco of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.

Click here to read this article.

Category: PPIC Blog

YOUR INPUT WANTED: Please take a few moments to weigh in on the Groundwater Exchange

October 21, 2020

We’re conducting a brief survey on the Groundwater Exchange to determine the current and potential usefulness of the website.  Please take a moment to fill out this survey.

Click here to take the survey.

Thank you!

Category: Announcement

WEBINAR: Regulating Groundwater Quality Across SGMA, CV-Salts, and ILRP

October 21, 2020

Join Maven’s Notebook and the Local Government Commission on October 28th from 12:00-1:30pm for a panel discussion on how the Irrigated Lands Program (ILRP), the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-Salts) initiative, and Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) can work together to support water quality improvements across the San Joaquin Valley.

Our panelists are:

  • Theresa “Tess” Dunham, Attorney with Kahn, Soares, & Conway LLP
  • Natalie Stork, Chief, Groundwater Management Program at State Water Resources Control Board
  • Jennifer Clary, California Director, Clean Water Action

The panel will be moderated by Daniel Cozad, Executive Director of the Central Valley Salinity Coalition.

The webinar is scheduled from 12:00pm to 1:30pm.

Click here to register.

Other upcoming groundwater events …

Water Markets, SGMA & California’s First Open-Source Water Accounting and Trading Platform, October 28th, 12-1:30pm*Presented by the Environmental Defense Fund.  Click here to register.

Virtual Conference: Building a Water-Resilient California, November 12, 17, 19 from 11am to 12pm.  Presented by the PPIC.  November 17 focuses on collaborative approaches to foster groundwater sustainability.  Click here to register.

*Both the water accounting platform webinar and the CV-SALTS webinar will be recorded and made available on the Groundwater Exchange platform.

Category: Announcement

SGMA in the news

October 21, 2020

Groundwater regulation in Ukiah Valley is imminent. Here’s what you need to know.

Historically, in California, if someone had a well, or access to an aquifer on their property, they could take as much water out of it as they wanted, to irrigate agricultural land, for drinking, or whatever else they needed it for. Currently, there is no government authority that can track or limit groundwater use. Soon, that will change.  In 2014, a state law was enacted that requires local governments in areas with potential for groundwater overdraft to establish a regulatory plan to manage groundwater sustainably for years to come. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Voice here:  Groundwater regulation in Ukiah Valley is imminent. Here’s what you need to know.

Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

A relatively new water budgeting platform appears to be working well for producers in Kern County. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (District) has worked with multiple stakeholder partners to develop the Water Accounting Platform to help growers more accurately track water use. General Manager of the District, Eric Averett explained that producers in the area seem to be pleased with the functionality of the platform and what it provides. … ”  Read more from Ag Net West here:  Water accounting platform is working well in Kern County

Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority responds to Searles Valley Minerals’ lawsuit

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has responded to the Searles Valley Minerals lawsuit announced last week.  “At its core, Searles’ lawsuit is nothing more than a claim that its use of water for a commercial industrial purpose should be free of all costs and given a priority over and above all other uses in the Basin,” Mick Gleason, IWVGA chairman and Kern County Supervisor, said in a press release Tuesday morning. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority responds to Searles Valley Minerals’ lawsuit

Ridgecrest:  Western Growers Association and Calif. Farm Bureau: Current GSP ‘will decimate agriculture’

“The Western Growers Association and the California Farm Bureau Federation voiced its concerns regarding the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s draft groundwater sustainability plan in a letter addressed to the IWVGA and its chair, Mick Gleason.  “It is shocking that the IWVGA Plan reserves 100 percent of the basin’s sustainable yield to the U.S. Navy — an entity expressly not subject to SGMA or the Plan — and denies overlying landowner farmers any groundwater allocation at all unless they pay the Authority $2,130 per acre-foot,” the letter reads. … ”  Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here:  Western Growers Association and Calif. Farm Bureau: Current GSP ‘will decimate agriculture’

Groundwater: Desert valley plan could price farms out of business

As local groundwater agencies throughout California consider how to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, two lawsuits against a Kern County groundwater sustainability agency show the potential implications for agriculture and other businesses with historic, overlying water rights.  The cases involve the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority, a groundwater sustainability agency overseeing a critically overdrafted aquifer that covers part of eastern Kern County and parts of Inyo and San Bernardino counties. … ”  Read more from Ag Alert here:  Groundwater: Desert valley plan could price farms out of business

New federal report show increasing groundwater levels in the Coachella Valley

A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows that efforts by Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) to replenish local aquifers in the Coachella Valley have been effective, leading to stable land surface elevations in most of the Coachella Valley. Areas with land subsidence identified in prior studies are now stable, uplifting, or experiencing substantial slowing of subsidence. CVWD partners with Coachella Water Authority, Desert Water Agency, Indio Water Authority, and Mission Springs Water District to manage groundwater in the Coachella Valley.  “The study shows that CVWD’s commitment to these partnerships and the sustainability of the aquifer that supplies most of our drinking water is a success story,” said Jim Barrett, General Manager of CVWD. “The results clearly demonstrate a reversal in trends of groundwater-level declines during previous decades. This is good news for the long-term health of the aquifers.” … ”  Read more from the Coachella Valley Water District here:  New federal report show increasing groundwater levels in the Coachella Valley

How groundwater managers can avoid the courts as they divvy up water

October 5, 2020

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

One of the biggest challenges to implementing California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act hovers around this two-part question:

Who gets to pump groundwater and how much do they get to pump? Or, put another way, who must cut their groundwater use and by how much?

As local groundwater agencies try to answer this difficult question on how to develop allocations, they face one major constraint: They can’t change groundwater rights.

Consequently, the path forward for many groundwater agencies is riddled with legal complexities and questions around equity that shouldn’t be ignored.

Click here to continue reading this article at the Growing Returns blog.

Successful Integration: How SGMA and IRWM Can Utilize Each Other’s Strengths

October 5, 2020

Guest commentary from Soua Lee, Program Manager of the Kings Basin Water Authority, on behalf of the IRWM Roundtable of Regions, posted at Maven’s Notebook:

How does a region integrate Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a program mandated by State legislation, with Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM), a voluntary collaborative effort, to implement regional water management solutions?

A question often asked, but with no definitive answer depending on who you ask. This article discusses how IRWM and SGMA share a similar approach that involves comprehensive management on a regional scale and provides examples of where the two programs are working together successfully.

Click here to read this article.

WEBINAR: Successful collaboration between IRWM and SGMA

This webinar discusses the benefits of successful collaboration between groundwater sustainability agencies implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) planning efforts.

The speakers were:

  • David Orth, Principal, New Current Water and Land
  • Rob Swartz, Manager of Tech Services, Regional Water Authority and American River IRWM
  • Angela Islas, Community Development Specialist, Self-Help Enterprises

The panel was moderated by Lance Eckhart, General Manager of the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency.

Q&A: Elevating NGOs and Community Groups in Groundwater Decision-Making

October 5, 2020

From the Water Foundation:

Through the NGO Groundwater Collaborative, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Tribes, and California residents share information and resources to help each other participate in the state’s groundwater management programs. We spoke with Jennifer Clary, California Director for Clean Water Action California, and Emily Finnegan, Project Manager for Local Government Commission’s water programs, about the collaborative and what’s coming up for the group.

Click here to continue reading at the Water Foundation.

Category: Blogs

OpenET: A Web Application ​to Transform Water Management in the Western United States

October 5, 2020

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), NASA, the DesertResearch Institute (DRI) and Google announced plans today to develop a new web application called ​OpenET​ to enable western U.S. farmers and water managers to accurately track water consumption by crops and other vegetation using data from satellites and weather stations.

OpenET will fill a critical information gap in water management in the West. Today, access to accurate, timely satellite-based data on the amount of water used to grow food is fragmented and often expensive, keeping it out of the hands of many farmers and decision-makers. Water supplies in the western U.S. are critical to the health of our communities, food supply and wildlife, but they are facing increasing pressures in the face of population growth and a changing climate.

Applications of OpenET data include:

●Informing irrigation management and scheduling practices to ​maximize “crop per drop” and reduce costs for water and fertilizer​.

●Enabling water and land managers to ​develop more accurate water budgets and innovative management programs that promote adequate water supplies for agriculture, people, and ecosystems.

●Supporting groundwater management, water trading and conservation programs that increase the economic viability of agriculture across the West.

Learn more by visiting

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.