SGMA in the News

This week at the Groundwater Exchange …

September 26, 2018

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Groundwater Exchange’s weekly newsletter!  (Want to subscribe?  Click here.)

Each week, we’ll highlight new content, forum topics, and other website developments, along with a look at groundwater in the news across the state.

We’re still working on the basin pages, and soon through technical wizadry, there will be the integration with the California Water Library, but the resource pages are relatively complete – such as Developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan , so I invite you to visit the main page or use the site index and explore.

Also note there is a calendar of groundwater events available on the main menu bar.

One section worth exploring is the Tools and Resources section located in the lower right-hand corner of the main page.   Do you have trouble getting around DWR’s website?  Check out the State Agency and USGS Resources page and hunt for the basin boundary modification page no longer.  Need to look at the monitoring requirements in the GSP regulations?  On the Legislation and Regulations page you can read and print out just the section you need.  DWR, NGOs, and academic institutions have developed numerous tools and data sources to support SGMA implementation.  Visit the Tools and Data Directory where you can view all the available tools and data sources and filter for just the information you are looking for.

Be sure to sign up for our webinar on October 11 where we’ll give a full website tour.  Click here for details and to register.

Lastly, this website was built to support successful implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  We hope it will be a useful tool for everyone participating in the sustainable management of the state’s groundwater basins.  If you have documents, resources, events to share, or suggestions on how this website could be improved, please let us know.

Category: This week

Marin cedes supervision of water basin to Sonoma County

September 23, 2018

From the Marin Independent Journal:

“Marin County is modifying the boundaries of two of its five groundwater basins to avoid having to create a new agency to monitor one basin and make a plan for recharging it, as mandated by state law.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized modifying the boundaries of the Sand Point Area Basin, which is adjacent to the Wilson Grove Basin, underlying the Dillon Beach and Lawson’s Landing area. The Sand Point Area Basin has been designated as low priority.

Sand Point Area Basin’s boundaries will be adjusted to encompass the portion of the Wilson Grove Basin that extends into Marin, thereby relieving the county of its responsibility to form an agency and develop a plan. … “

Read more from the Marin Independent Journal here:  Marin cedes supervision of water basin to Sonoma County

Category: News Article

Kern County downsizes groundwater management role, raising concerns of state intervention

September 22, 2018

From the Bakersfield Californian:

“Concerns are rising Kern might lose local control over groundwater pumping — an activity vital to farmers, ranchers, oil producers and others — after county officials moved to scale back their own oversight role.

The county informed property owners Aug. 24 it does not have the expertise or the money to actively manage groundwater use in portions of Kern where no other management authority exists. It encouraged them to join a local water district or form their own management organization, either of which would be expected to come up with a plan for making the practice sustainable. … “

Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here:  Kern County downsizes groundwater management role, raising concerns of state intervention

Category: News Article

Stanislaus County appeals ruling that would make it harder for farmers to dig wells

September 22, 2018

From the Modesto Bee:

“Stanislaus County will ask the state Supreme Court for a ruling on whether environmental review is a necessary step for a new water well.

In August, a state appeals court overturned the Stanislaus Superior Court’s decision in the Protecting Our Water lawsuit, which sought an injunction against county well permit approvals. The plaintiffs claimed the county was violating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in approving well permits without considering environmental harm.  … “

Read more from the Modesto Bee here:  Stanislaus County appeals ruling that would make it harder for farmers to dig wells

Category: News Article
Keywords: Governance

Guest Commentary: SGMA – What’s a Farmer to Do?

September 22, 2018

Guest commentary by Don A. Wright at

“Just when things are starting to get back to normal after the recent drought, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 has sucked all the oxygen out of the room. It’s common for irrigation and water district general managers to spend at least half their time and talent on dealing with the requirements of this law. Many have said this is the most impactful piece of water legislation since 1914 when the Water Commission Act formalized the appropriation system and centralized appropriative water right records at the state level (now the State Water Resources Control Board). Under the act, the state required new appropriators to obtain a permit from the state prior to diverting water but left groundwater alone.

The Valley’s aquifer is showing the stress of over pumping and some very real dangers lie ahead if this trend isn’t reversed. While there is plenty of room to blame misguided water policy from Sacramento – the blame won’t correct the problem. In fact most experts and laymen alike don’t see a way for business to return to usual. …

I asked some people whose opinions I respect; what can a farmer do to protect his assets? Here are some of the answers.

To read the full commentary, click here: GUEST COMMENTARY: SGMA – What’s a Farmer to Do?

Category: Water Wrights

Avoiding ‘Adverse Impacts’ of Groundwater Pumping on Surface Waters

September 21, 2018

From Stanford’s Water in the West:

“Local agencies in critically overdrafted groundwater basins in California have less than a year and a half to draft their plans to achieve sustainable groundwater management. These Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), formed under California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), will need to avoid six specified “undesirable results” ranging from seawater intrusion and degraded water quality to land subsidence.

A new report by Water in the West visiting scholar Letty Belin guides these agencies through how to understand and comply with the requirement that GSAs must not cause “significant and unreasonable adverse impacts on beneficial uses of surface water.” … “

Read more from Stanford’s Water in the West here: Avoiding ‘Adverse Impacts’ of Groundwater Pumping on Surface Waters.

Public input needed for future of Paso Robles groundwater basin

September 21, 2018

From KSBY:

“The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is critically over-drafted and county leaders continue to work on a plan to fix that.

So far, water experts and district leaders have drafted 5 out of 13 chapters of the state-mandated Groundwater Sustainability Plan. They need to submit the full plan to the state by Jan. 31, 2020.

In the meantime, they’re looking for public comment. … “

Read more from KSBY here:  Public input needed for future of Paso Robles groundwater basin

Category: News Article

Report: An Assessment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act for Municipal Water Suppliers

September 21, 2018

From Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck:

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) is now in its fourth year of operation. Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”) have been formed throughout the medium- and high-priority basins across California, and those GSAs are now developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (“GSP”). The GSPs will ultimately afford greater long-term groundwater supply reliability by avoiding chronic groundwaer depletion and other “undesirable results,” such as signficant loss of storage, water quality degradation, subsidence, and seawater intrusion.

To achieve sustainable management in basins experiencing pronounced overdraft conditions, either augmented recharge will be necessary or groundwater extractions will need to be reduced over time. This process will affect municipal water suppliers that rely on groundwater basins that are subject to SGMA’s provision. It is, thus, important that municipal water suppliers understand the requirements of SGMA, the potential impacts to their groundwater supplies, and the procedural and substantive options and strategies that should be considered throughout the process.

To that effect, this paper will cover:

1. An overview of SGMA and its essential provisions;
2. The issues that will need to be resolved to implement SGMA, including the potential
division of available water supplies within a basin;
3. A summary of key groundwater rights laws;
4. A discussion of groundwater basin adjudications and new laws designed to streamline future adjudications and harmonize their results with SGMA; and
5. Strategies that municipal water providers may employ to optimize outcomes from the SGMA/adjudication process.

Read the report from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck here: Report: An Assessment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act for Municipal Water Suppliers.

Category: New reports

Paso Robles quiet title trial nears end in Santa Clara

September 21, 2018

From New Times SLO:

“A jury trial to determine whose groundwater rights should win out in a 5-year-old clash between public water purveyors and private landowners near Paso Robles approached a conclusion in Santa Clara County Superior Court the week of Sept. 20.

In 2013, a small group of North County property owners, led by vintner Cindy Steinbeck, filed a quiet title water rights lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, amid anxiety about the drought, its impact on the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, and the regulations set to curb water pumping. … ”

Read more from New Times SLO here:  Paso Robles quiet title trial nears end in Santa Clara

Category: News Article
Keywords: Water Rights

Paso Robles groundwater talks to heat up as state deadline looms

September 21, 2018

From New Times SLO:

“One chapter at a time. That’s how scientists, water officials, and the public are writing the 20-year sustainability plan for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.  Five out of the plan’s 13 total chapters are drafted thus far, covering introductions, basin boundaries, and hydrology.

But that was the easy part.  Sustainability discussions are about to get a lot more complicated and challenging as the meat of the plan—future groundwater level targets, well monitoring programs, recharge projects, and financing questions—start to take center stage. … ”

Read more from New Times SLO here:  Paso Robles groundwater talks to heat up as state deadline looms

Category: News Article