SGMA in the News

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: New Department of Conservation SGMA Watershed Coordinator Grant Program

June 24, 2020

A new 2020 Sustainable Groundwater Management Watershed Coordinator (SGMA) Grant Program is being launched at the Department of Conservation.  Grants are being offered for watershed coordinators in parts of the state impacted by implementation of SGMA.

Information about the program can be found at

A public review draft solicitation and application has been posted at

Please contact Department of Conservation watershed program staff with questions or comments via email at​ ​​or phone at (916) 324-0850.

WATER MARKET INSIDER: California Water Prices on the Rise

June 24, 2020
The Water Market Insider is published by WestWater Research, an economic consulting firm providing valuation, market analysis, planning, and transaction advisory services to the water resources sector.

The current issue of The Water Market Insider explores how the spot-market price of water observed across California responds to certain hydrologic, institutional, and management indicators. Prices are found to respond to water scarcity, which is driven by natural factors, policy decisions, and water management. Price transparency in California’s water market has increased significantly with the launch of the Nasdaq Veles California Water Index (NQH2O), a first of its kind index that provides a benchmark for the spot-market price of water rights transacted across the state.

Click here to read this issue of The Water Market Insider.

Category: New reports

SGMA in the news

June 24, 2020

Groundwater plans could cause up to 12,000 drinking water wells to run dry:  “If all goes according to plan — actually 26 groundwater sustainability plans — between 46,000 and nearly 130,000 Central Valley residents could be out of water by 2040, according to a new report released by the Water Foundation.  Those sustainability plans are supposed to bring the valley’s depleted aquifers into balance, per the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.  But, the Water Foundation report asserts, groundwater sustainability agencies, governed mostly by members of agricultural water districts, are planning for water tables to decline to the point they could dry up between 4,000 and 12,000 domestic wells over the next 20 years. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater plans could cause up to 12,000 drinking water wells to run dry

New USGS geonarrative pinpoints domestic well locations in United States:  “A new U.S. Geological Survey geonarrative illustrates where domestic (private) water wells are located and how many people are using them, based on the results of a 2019 USGS study. Nearly 40 million people in the United States rely on a domestic well for their drinking-water supply.  The geonarrative displays interactive maps that allow the user to view the number of people who rely on domestic wells per square kilometer, and the number and percentage of people by state using domestic wells. Users can zoom in on any area, although the maps are not intended to be used at the scale of a single house. … ”  Read more from the USGS here: New USGS geonarrative pinpoints domestic well locations in United States

Groundwater accountability sparks clash of Central Valley ag titans:  “Two giant Central Valley farming companies are slinging serious mud at one another over groundwater.  And, in a rare break with tradition, they’re doing it in public.  The fight has spilled out in public comments on the Tulare Lake Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan, which covers most of Kings County.  The titans behind the comments are J.G. Boswell Company and Sandridge Partners, owned by John Vidovich. … ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Groundwater accountability sparks clash of Central Valley ag titans

Napa County taps citizens to plan groundwater sustainability plan:  “Napa County’s annual groundwater “snapshot” for 2019 depicts a subbasin under the floor of world-famous wine country that isn’t being sucked dry by wells.  Water users pumped 18,005 acre-feet of water from the Napa Valley subbasin last year. That is within the annual sustainable yield of 17,000 to 20,000 acre-feet, according to the Luhdorff & Scalmanini consulting firm. ... ”  Read more from the Napa Register here: Napa County taps citizens to plan groundwater sustainability plan

Category: News Article

Could the Answer to Groundwater Resources Come From High in the Sky?

June 11, 2020

From the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories:

Groundwater makes up 30 to 50 percent of California’s water supply, but until recently there were few restrictions placed on its retrieval. Then in 2014 California became the last Western state to require regulation of its groundwater. With deadlines starting this year, for the first time water managers in the nation’s premier agricultural region – the state’s Central Valley – are tasked with estimating available groundwater. It’s a daunting technological challenge.

Now a new computational approach developed by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) offers a high-tech yet simple method: it pairs high-resolution images derived by satellite with advanced computer modeling to estimate aquifer volume change from observed ground deformation. The method could help streamline groundwater tracking across a region, once multiple local management agencies begin submitting water management plans to comply with the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (or SGMA, pronounced “sigma).

Click here to continue reading.
Keywords: monitoring

STATE WATER BOARD: Update on SGMA implementation

June 11, 2020

Presentation discusses the GSP review process and highlights tools, resources, and assistance for GSAs

Since the legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed in 2014, the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board have been working to support the local agencies the development of their groundwater sustainability plans.  At the State Water Board’s meeting on June 2nd, Natalie Stork, unit chief for the Groundwater Management Program at the State Water Board, and Craig Altare, chief of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Review section at the Department of Water Resources, updated the board members on how implementation is going so far.

Click here to read this article.

The Past, Present and Future of California’s Groundwater

June 11, 2020

From Stanford’s Water in the West program:

A century after the state began overseeing surface water, the California legislature enacted a set of three laws regulating water below the surface. The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority of groundwater. However, its involvement existed long before SGMA and continues to influence current policies and regulation of the resource. A new paper published in Society and Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year history of California’s role in groundwater management and policy development.

Below, study lead Evan Dennis and co-author Tara Moran, discuss the state’s changing role from supporting to mandating groundwater management. Dennis is a research associate at the Center for the Analysis of Social-Ecological Landscapes at Indiana University, Bloomington and Moran is a research associate and sustainable groundwater lead at Stanford’s Water in the West program.

Click here to read this article.

REPORT: Groundwater Management and Safe Drinking Water in the San Joaquin Valley

June 11, 2020

From the Water Foundation:

To support the state’s implementation of SGMA and its continued progress on the human right to water, the Water Foundation commissioned an analysis of 26 GSPs in the San Joaquin Valley to understand how private domestic drinking water wells in the region will be affected on the path to sustainability. Among its key findings, the analysis estimates that the goals in these San Joaquin Valley GSPs, if not proactively addressed, will result in:

        • Between roughly 4,000 and 12,000 partially or completely dry drinking water wells by 2040
        • Between roughly 46,000 and 127,000 people who lose some or all of their primary water supply by 2040
        • Between $88 million to $359 million in costs to restore access to drinking water

State regulatory agencies must now work with these GSAs over the next two years to implement SGMA in a manner that avoids these impacts or finds suitable replacement for lost water supplies to ensure the right to water for all California residents. Further, more analysis beyond the scope of this analysis is required to explore the effect of GSPs on other areas of concern, such as impacts on the environment and on important infrastructure due to land subsidence.

Click here to download the report.
Category: New reports

Seasonal Maps Provide Snapshot of State Groundwater Levels

June 11, 2020

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) produces groundwater level change maps which show groundwater levels in wells throughout the state. When looked at together, these reports give a statewide picture of groundwater conditions and how they change over time – through wet periods or droughts.

Individual groundwater level change reports provide a snapshot of spring and fall groundwater conditions. Spring data is typically collected immediately before the irrigation season begins in a region. This helps show groundwater levels before summer crop irrigation and other uses. The fall levels are taken at the end of the irrigation period. To view the spring 2019 and fall 2019  groundwater level change maps, go to DWR’s Data and Tools webpage, and click on “Maps,” then go to “Statewide Groundwater Level Change Maps.”

Click here to continue reading.

SGMA in the news

June 11, 2020

Mendocino City Community Services District creates special groundwater committee:  “At the monthly Mendocino City Community Services District meeting, the board discussed rain levels and a newly formed groundwater management committee.  As of May 19, rainfall totals for the current rain year are 50 percent of normal. Mendocino has received 20.32 inches during the current water year. The forty-year average for this time of year is twice that at 40.04 inches. … ”  Read more from the Mendocino Beacon here: Mendocino City Community Services District creates special groundwater committee

Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans:  “There is no tougher playground than California’s water world.  Just take a look at the zingers flying back and forth between water districts on one another’s groundwater sustainability plans posted on the Department of Water Resources’ website.  “It’s like a giant game of dodgeball,” said Dana Munn, General Manager of Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District. ... ”  Read more from SJV Water here: Central Valley water districts take aim at each other’s groundwater plans

Category: News Article

PPIC: A Review of San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Sustainability Plans

May 28, 2020

From  the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC):

Efforts to find solutions to the state’s groundwater depletion issues took a new turn when groundwater agencies for the state’s 21 “critically overdrafted” basins submitted their first groundwater plans in January. Last week the PPIC Water Policy Center held a webinar to summarize our in-depth review of plans for 11 of these basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region, where excess pumping is a major challenge.

“Our goal is to help build a shared understanding of how well these plans tackle core objectives, and to help further a conversation about how everyone can work together to achieve success and manage water resources in a way that’s going to build a strong foundation for the future,” said center director Ellen Hanak in her opening remarks.

PPIC research associate Jelena Jezdimirovic laid out important context and summarized key findings of the review. She began by describing the costs to the agricultural sector of ending overdraft in the valley—and how these costs can be mitigated by flexible water management and cost-effective new supplies.

Click here to read more at the PPIC.