SGMA in the News

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority digests water rights

September 8, 2018

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

“The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s policy advisory committee received a comprehensive legal rundown and case history on water rights Thursday night.

In a two-hour meeting, Groundwater Authority special legal counsel Jim Markman highlighted different scenarios, described the difference between overlying water rights (essentially pumping over the land one owns) and appropriators rights (those held by agencies like the IWV Water District), discussed adjudication and possible outcomes for achieving sustainability.

Markman said his task “is to pull all the interests in this basin and have everyone understand their strengths and possible weaknesses of their claims for water production rights,” not advocating for any one group’s water rights or priorities. … “

Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority digests water rights

Category: News Article

New reports available on Groundwater Pumping Allocations and Depletion Requirements under SGMA

September 6, 2018

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

Two new reports are available to aid Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in preparing and implementing their Groundwater Sustainability Plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA):

Groundwater Pumping Allocations under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

This paper, co-authored with New Current Water and Land, addresses one major dilemma facing Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): how to comply with SGMA without changing groundwater rights. It starts by providing background on groundwater law and then recommends one approach among four to develop an allocation scheme that is most likely to withstand a court challenge.

Depletion Requirements in California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

In this paper, Environmental Defense Fund proposes an approach for GSAs to address surface water depletions – also known as the “sixth deadly sin” or “Undesirable Result No. 6” – under SGMA.

Category: New reports

The groundwater manager’s dilemma: How to comply with new California law without changing water rights

September 4, 2018

From the Environmental Defense Fund’s Growing Returns blog, Christina Babbitt and Daniel M. Dooley with New Current Water and Land write:

“Over the next two years, more than 100 groundwater sustainability agencies in California will have to hammer out a plan to make their groundwater basins sustainable.

But as mangers in many areas work to combat decades of over-pumping, they face a major dilemma: In dividing the groundwater pie to avoid overuse, they can’t change Byzantine groundwater rights that date as far back as 1903.

In a new working paper, “Groundwater Pumping Allocations under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” Environmental Defense Fund and New Current Water and Land – a California-based consulting firm – provide water managers with a recommended approach to navigate this challenge and develop plans that are more durable, and thus likely to succeed, under the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … “

Read the full post at the Growing Returns blog here:  The groundwater manager’s dilemma: How to comply with new California law without changing water rights


Grower sees potential for groundwater recharge

September 4, 2018

From the Western Farm Press:

“Jim Morris had lots of reasons for embracing a University of California research project to use his alfalfa field for groundwater recharge.

His operation, the Bryan-Morris Ranch in Etna, Calif., has emphasized environmental stewardship since his wife’s family started it in the 1850s. The ranch was the site of soil conservation and other studies as long ago as the 1940s. … “

Read more from the Western Farm Press here:  Grower sees potential for groundwater recharge

Category: News Article

SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT PRGM NEWS: New climate change resources, Update on alternative plans review, Basin Boundary Modifications deadline reminder, and more …

August 31, 2018

In the latest newsletter from the Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Program:

  • NEW: Climate Change Data and Guidance Resource Guide Released
  • UPDATE: Alternative Plans Review
  • REMINDER: Basin Boundary Modifications Submission Period Ends September 28
  • VIEW: Basin Prioritization Comments Are Online
  • Connect with Your Basin Point-of-Contact

Read the newsletter at Maven’s Notebook here: SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT PRGM NEWS: New climate change resources, Update on alternative plans review, Basin Boundary Modifications deadline reminder, and more …

Category: DWR Updates

California Court Finds Public Trust Doctrine Applies to State Groundwater Resources

August 29, 2018

Richard Frank writes,

“The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District has issued an important decision declaring that California’s powerful public trust doctrine applies to at least some of the state’s overtaxed groundwater resources.  The court’s opinion also rejects the argument that California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) displaces the public trust doctrine’s applicability to groundwater resources.

The Court of Appeal’s opinion in Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board decides two key issues of first impression for California water law: first, whether the public trust doctrine applies to California’s groundwater resources; and, second, if it does, if application of that doctrine has been displaced and superseded by the California Legislature’s 2014 enactment of SGMA.  A unanimous appellate panel answered the first question in the affirmative, the second in the negative. … “

Read more from the Legal Planet here: California Court Finds Public Trust Doctrine Applies to State Groundwater Resources

Category: Legal Planet

Managed Aquifer Recharge in California

August 29, 2018
Timothy Parker and Graham Fogg discuss the benefits and the challenges of Managed Aquifer Recharge, and how MAR can be key to water security in a changing climate

From Maven’s Notebook:

Groundwater is an essential water source, providing 35% of the fresh water used in California, and significantly more in drought years.  However, when groundwater is used more rapidly than it is naturally replenished, actions must be taken to correct the imbalance, and one of the tools used by groundwater managers is managed aquifer recharge (or MAR).

Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) enhances the recharge rate by creating artificial streams and ponds where water trickles into the ground, or by using wells to directly inject water underground. MAR can also be used to improve groundwater quality and prevent some of the negative consequences of groundwater depletion, like ground sinking (subsidence) or the intrusion of salty groundwater from the oceans into coastal freshwater aquifers.

In an American Geosciences Institute webinar, Timothy Parker, principal hydrogeologist at Parker Groundwater, discusses managing groundwater storage and managed aquifer recharge in California.  Next, Graham Fogg, from UC Davis discusses recharge and reservoir management and keys to water security.

Read more at Maven’s Notebook here:  Managed Aquifer Recharge in California


Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking

August 29, 2018

From the Cornell University Chronicle:

“Despite higher-than-normal amounts of rain in early 2017, the large agricultural and metropolitan communities that rely on groundwater in central California experienced only a short respite from an ongoing drought.

When the rain stopped, drought conditions returned and the ground has continued to sink, by up to a half-meter annually, according to a new Cornell study in Science Advances. … “

Read more at the Cornell Chronicle:  Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking

Category: News Article
Keywords: Land Subsidence

Statewide November vote could be key to solving Borrego Springs water woes

August 26, 2018

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

“A major step toward solving the water woes of the desert community of Borrego Springs depends on passage of a statewide $8.8 billion bond initiative in November known as Proposition 3.

If it passes, $35 million would go to Borrego, much of which would be used to purchase and fallow farmland in the Borrego Valley.

“We are very hopeful,” said Beth Hart, president of the Borrego Water District. “If it goes through then the struggles the community has been facing and will be facing in the future under the Sustainable Ground Management Act (SGMA) will find some significant relief.” … “

Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here: Statewide November vote could be key to solving Borrego Springs water woes

Category: News Article

Why the Environment Is a Big Winner in California’s Groundwater Law

August 26, 2018

From Water Deeply:

“When California passed its landmark groundwater law in 2014, there was a collective “it’s about time” across the West. But even though California may have been late in issuing a robust groundwater management law, it does set a high bar in at least one key area.

“In regards to the environment, it is actually quite progressive in that it actually explicitly mentions that groundwater-dependent ecosystems need to be identified and there can’t be impacts to them,” said Melissa Rohde, a groundwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy.

If you’re not quite sure what a groundwater-dependent ecosystem (GDE) is, you’re not alone. Many newly formed groundwater sustainability agencies that have resulted from California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are also just figuring that out. … “

Click here to continue reading at Water Deeply.

Category: News Article