CA WATER LAW SYMPOSIUM: Questions of common supply: SGMA requirements for interconnected surface water and groundwater
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014, is California’s first statewide law that explicitly reflects the fact that surface water and groundwater are frequently interconnected and that groundwater management can impact groundwater-dependent ecosystems, surface water flows, and the beneficial uses of those flows.
SGMA requires groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to manage groundwater to avoid six undesirable results, one of which is significant and unreasonable adverse impacts on beneficial uses of surface water. While this aspect of SGMA is clearly important, significant uncertainties exist regarding how GSAs will actually define and achieve this goal. At the 2019 California Water Law Symposium, a panel of experts discussed the structure of SGMA and how it addresses these water connections, particularly in relation to fisheries and the public trust doctrine.
Seated on the panel:
- Rick Frank: Rick Frank is a professor of law at the UC Davis Law School. For many years, he was with the California Attorney General’s office and litigated a number of very important water and environmental cases.
- Andy Sawyer: Andy Sawyer is Assistant Chief Counsel at the State Water Resources Control Board. He manages the activities of the Office of Chief Counsel involving water rights and the drinking water program.
- Paul Kibel: Paul Kibel is a professor at Golden Gate University School of Law. where he teaches a broad array of environmental courses and directs GGU’s Center on Urban Environmental Law. He is also counsel with the Water and Power Law Group and on the advisory board of the San Francisco Baykeeper.
- Letty Belin: Letty Belin is an attorney who specializes in tribal water rights, water law, and other natural resource issues. Letty served as counsel to the Deputy Secretary of the Interior in Washington DC, most recently a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program.
“With some local agencies just months away from a deadline to complete groundwater management plans, local and state officials acknowledge there have been a few speed bumps in distributing grant funding for planning and implementation. But observers say they expect the grant process overall to benefit groups working to comply with provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“There’s the old adage that there’s no free money; you take the bad with the good and the bad is, these processes always take longer,” Northern California Water Association President David Guy said. … ”
Continue reading at Ag Alert here: State distributes grants to help implement SGMA
Exeter: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies still unsure over monitoring, nearing draft sustainability plan
“Measuring the water beneath our feet takes technology that looks out of this world, and pictures that actually are. As the deadline for sustainable groundwater plans draws near agencies in charge are looking to NASA, foreign governments and top universities to figure out how much groundwater we have and how much we can use.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in 2014, it has been a mad dash to identify what is sustaabinle. Five years later, Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (Greater Kaweah) general manager, Eric Osterling says that things are getting clearer as their Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) comes into focus. … ”
Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here: Exeter: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies still unsure over monitoring, nearing draft sustainability plan
“The recharging basins near Ming and Allen Rd. are filled with water. It’s a comforting reminder that we’ll be okay during the next drought, but with that security comes with a price.
“We have thousands of acres of surface water that can potentially breed mosquitoes,” Gene Abbott, the manager of Kern Mosquito and Vector Control (KMVC) said. … ”
Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Kern County’s recharging basins come with a pesky price
“The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Policy Advisory Committee talked more modeling scenarios during its May 6 meeting from its angle.
According to committee chair Dave Janiec, the IWVGA’s technical advisory committee received updates on the current three modeling scenarios being developed for groundwater pumping. The scenarios reflect potential options of how the IWVGA could adopt once its groundwater sustainability plan is submitted to the Department of Water Resources.
The plan is currently being developed and is due by Jan. 31, 2020 as required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … ”
Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley: PAC discusses modeling scenarios
Groundwater managers working in four critically-overdrafted basins discuss how their planning efforts are going
In basins all over California, groundwater managers are focused on developing their groundwater sustainability plans to meet the deadlines set by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For groundwater basins designated as critically-overdrafted basins, the 2020 is right around the corner.
At the spring conference of the Association of California Water Agencies, a panel discussion brought together groundwater managers in four critically overdrafted basins to discuss their near-term goals and regional challenges in complying with SGMA.
Seated on the panel:
- Deanna Jackson, Executive Director of the Tri-County Water Authority
- Brian Lockwood, General Manager of the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency
- Andrew Garcia, Senior Civil Engineer with the San Luis & Delta Mendota Water Authority
- Eric Averett, General Manager of Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District
The panel was moderated by John Woodling, ACWA Groundwater Committee Chair and Vice President of GEI Consultants.
During the session, the panel members were asked a series of questions. Rather than writing it up chronologically as I generally do, I have instead assembled the information into a profile for each basin.
“The general long-term forecast for California as climate change intensifies: more frequent droughts, intermittently interrupted by years when big storms bring rain more quickly than the water infrastructure can handle. This bipolar weather will have profound implications for the state’s $50 billion agriculture industry and the elaborate network of reservoirs, canals, and aqueducts that store and distribute water. A system built for irrigation and flood protection must adapt to accommodate conservation.
“The effects of climate change are necessitating wholesale changes in how water is managed in California,” the state Department of Water Resources wrote in a June, 2018 white paper. … ”
Read more from the Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the West here: Putting a Tempest into a Teapot: Can California Better Use Winter Storms to Refill its Aquifers?
License to pump: New web portal examines, compares and explains the permitting process of groundwater pumping across seven U.S. states:
“Overpumping groundwater poses a major threat to the availability of a critical resource, especially in the arid lands of the Southwestern United States. States across the region have sought to deal with this issue through a wide variety of regulations and permitting processes.
A new dashboard tool, created by affiliates from Stanford’s Water in the West program, compares groundwater withdrawal permitting – a common tool used by resource managers to limit groundwater pumping – to help plan for a more sustainable future.
“Western states have adopted a wide range of approaches towards regulating groundwater pumping, but information about these approaches are not always shared across the region. Our goal is to help parties in different states learn from what is happening elsewhere. This is particularly important in California, where local agencies are working to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West and a dashboard contributor. … ”
Continue reading at Water in the West here: License to pump: New web portal examines, compares and explains the permitting process of groundwater pumping across seven U.S. states
“The overpumping of groundwater in California has led to near environmental catastrophe in some areas – land is sinking, seawater is intruding, and groundwater storage capacity has shrunk.
But researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) believe machine learning could be part of the solution to restoring groundwater to sustainable levels and quality. A team of computer and environmental scientists are developing a computational tool that will allow groundwater managers to plan and manage their precious water resources more sustainably, leading to improved resistance to droughts. … ”
Read more from Berkeley News here: To Pump or Not to Pump: New Tool Will Help Water Managers Make Smarter Decisions
Sacramento Valley Watersheds: Regional Collaborative Approaches to Maintaining and Improving Groundwater Quality for Multiple Benefits
Vicki Kretsinger Grabert writes,
“Understanding the status of California’s surface water and groundwater availability and sustainability are key goals of many programs. Sacramento Valley’s water resources managers and communities are proactively and collaboratively engaged in identifying and implementing strategies that support water resources sustainability. This includes protecting groundwater quality for multiple beneficial uses, which is being addressed through the following programs … ”
Read more from the NCWA blog here: Sacramento Valley Watersheds: Regional Collaborative Approaches to Maintaining and Improving Groundwater Quality for Multiple Benefits