SGMA in the News

The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley:

March 12, 2019

 “Implementing the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act—which requires overdrafted groundwater basins to achieve balance between supply and demand by the 2040s—could require taking at east 500,000 acres of irrigated cropland out of production in the San Joaquin Valley.

While some lands will be converted to uses such as solar energy, groundwater recharge, and restored habitat, there are no current plans for most of this acreage. We talked to Soapy Mulholland, president and CEO of Sequoia Riverlands Trust, about this impending challenge.

PPIC: What key challenges does this land use transition pose?

Soapy Mulholland: The challenges of managing this amount of land if it’s fallowed piecemeal―5 acres here, 30 there—are huge. A hodgepodge of retired lands would be very difficult to manage and restore. … “

Read more from the PPIC Blog here:  The challenges of changing land use in the San Joaquin Valley

Category: News Article

A winning approach for managing groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley

March 12, 2019

Alvar Escriva-Bou, Ellen Hanak, and Josué Medellín-Azuara write,

“The San Joaquin Valley is in a time of great change. Decades of groundwater overuse have caused drinking water and irrigation wells to go dry, increased the amount of energy required to pump water, harmed ecosystems, and reduced the reserves available to cope with future droughts.

Groundwater overdraft has also caused land to sink, damaging major regional infrastructure, including canals that deliver water across the state.  These problems spurred the enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local water users across California to bring groundwater use to sustainable levels by the early 2040s.

With California’s largest groundwater deficit, the San Joaquin Valley is ground zero for implementing SGMA. … ”

Read more from the PPIC blog here:  A winning approach for managing groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley

Category: PPIC Blog

Engineers design repairs to sunken section of Friant-Kern Canal while politicians look for funding

March 12, 2019

“When it opened in 1951, the Friant-Kern Canal carried at least 4,000 cubic feet of water per second along its route from Millerton Lake, north of Fresno, to Bakersfield.

Then something unfortunate happened.  A 25-mile stretch of land between Terra Bella and Pixley began to sink, and kept sinking, to the point that the canal’s gravity-powered water flow has slowed to about 1,700 cubic feet per second.

The subsidence, caused by over-pumping of groundwater during drought years, means 60 percent less drinking and irrigation water can be delivered to communities along the 152-mile conveyance. … ”

Read more from Bakersfield.com here:  Engineers design repairs to sunken section of Friant-Kern Canal while politicians look for funding

Keywords: Land Subsidence
Region: Tulare Lake

San Luis Obispo County eyes new rules on well drilling

March 10, 2019

“San Luis Obispo County supervisors are exploring what it’d take to bolster the county’s authority in issuing groundwater well permits.

Following a report about groundwater conditions in the Adelaida region of the North County on Feb. 26, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to have its staff look at how it could increase the level of review and discretion the county has over approving or denying well applications. … ”

Read more from New Times SLO here: SLO County eyes new rules on well drilling

Category: News Article

Dozens attend special Paso Basin Cooperative Committee meeting

March 8, 2019

“About 60 people turned out Wednesday afternoon at the Paso Library Conference Room for a special meeting of the Paso Basin Cooperative Committee.

The committee includes Chairperson John Hamon, (who requested a new chair be elected at the next meeting), Joe Parent of San Miguel, Vice Chair and County Supervisor John Peschong and Secretary Willy Cunha of Shandon-San Juan.

Those committee members all attended yesterday, although John Hamon left early to attend Ash Wednesday ceremonies, so alternate committee member Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin filled in for the latter part of the meeting. … ”

Read more from the Paso Robles Daily News here:  Dozens attend special Paso Basin Cooperative Committee meeting

Category: News Article

After local outcry, a Harvard-owned vineyard project faces environmental review

March 7, 2019

“California farmer Brenton Kelly still remembers how the Cuyama Valley used to be.  The valley, located in California’s Central Coast region, has long been home to an abundance of wildlife.

Historically, the land has been used for cattle pastures, and featured “beautiful rolling grassy hill” and an “amazing wildflower show,” according to Kelly.  These days, however, the land has been taken over by large commercial farms and vineyards, Kelly said. … ”

Read more from the Harvard Crimson here:  After local outcry, a Harvard-owned vineyard project faces environmental review

Category: News Article

Madera County growers tackle water issues

March 7, 2019

“Local growers and others met last week for a triple tour of Madera County water users Friday and an on-farm groundwater recharge workshop Wednesday.

What we’re trying to do is get different types of beneficial users together so that they can listen to each other’s successes and challenges,” said county Water and Natural Resources Department director Stephanie Anagnoson about the tours.

Participants visited AgriLand Farming Company in Chowchilla, Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Fairmead, and the Ellis Recharge Basin in northeast Madera. The stops were part of a special meeting of the Advisory Committee for area groundwater sustainability agencies. … ”

Read more from the Madera Tribune here:  Madera County growers tackle water issues

Category: News Article

In Borrego Springs Tourism, Farming Industries Face Uncertainty With Looming Water Cuts

March 7, 2019

“Although part of San Diego County, Borrego Springs is definitely off the beaten path. The small community is a two-hour drive from downtown San Diego.

“The remoteness of ourselves — there’s no freeway coming here,” said Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce President Patrick Sampson, who is also general manager of the La Casa Del Zorro resort.   “If you’re going to Borrego Springs — you’re coming to Borrego Springs.” … ”

Read more from KPBS here:  In Borrego Springs Tourism, Farming Industries Face Uncertainty With Looming Water Cuts

Category: News Article

California uses blockchain and IoT to manage groundwater use

March 6, 2019

” … For decades, farmers and businesses have pumped groundwater out of California’s aquifers, the permeable layers of rock that hold water underground, and the results have been frightening. As aquifers drain faster than rain can replenish them, the ground actually sinks, a phenomenon called “subsidence.” In areas where building and roads rest atop the ground, this can cause damage. …

If California is going to prevent further depletion of aquifers and survive droughts like the one that afflicted it from 2011 to 2017, the state will need to manage its groundwater usage. In the central valley, a group of organizations is working on a project that could stem the tide by combining two technologies: the internet of things (IoT) and Blockchain. … ”

Read more from Digital Trends here:  Blockchain is overhyped, but it’s also perfect for California’s drought problem

Category: News Article

Measuring success in groundwater management

March 6, 2019

“The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014 was a watershed moment, establishing the first statewide framework for managing California’s critical groundwater resources. Under this framework, one of the key challenges facing newly formed local government agencies responsible for groundwater management is to establish and implement quantitative metrics for sustainability.

To help local agencies do this, a new report from Water in the West examines how four special act districts in California have used quantitative thresholds to adaptively manage groundwater.

These case studies provide valuable insights on the development and implementation of performance metrics and will be important in guiding local agencies. … ”

Read more from Stanford News here:  Measuring success in groundwater management