SGMA in the News

DWR Finalizes Basin Prioritizations under SGMA

January 9, 2019

From the Department of Water Resources:

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) [last Friday] announced final basin prioritization for the majority of groundwater basins in the state as required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Today’s announcement finalizes the prioritization for 458 basins, identifying 56 basins that are required to create groundwater sustainability plans under SGMA. For most basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015. Fifty-nine basins remain under review with final prioritization expected in late spring.

“Prioritizing groundwater basins is a critical step along the path of ensuring sustainable groundwater supplies for future generations of Californians,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Groundwater management is a big, complicated endeavor for California, which is why DWR is investing heavily to provide local planning entities with technical assistance to be successful.”

SGMA requires local agencies throughout the state to sustainably manage groundwater basins. Basins identified as high- or medium-priority are required to adopt groundwater sustainability plans beginning in 2020. DWR is required to reassess groundwater basin prioritizations any time it updates basin boundaries. This prioritization for 458 basins incorporates the basin boundary modifications finalized in 2016. Prioritization is based on factors such as population, irrigated acreage, and the number of wells in the basin. Changes in prioritization generally reflect changed conditions or new information about existing conditions.

Today’s prioritization reflects updates based on new requirements under SGMA, including adverse impacts to habitat and streamflow, adjudicated areas, critically over drafted basins and groundwater related transfers.

Twenty-one basins were changed to ‘very low’ because they are covered by adjudicated areas with existing governance and oversight in place. Adjudicated areas are not required to prepare groundwater sustainability plans and are instead required to submit annual reports to DWR on their groundwater management and monitoring.

Draft prioritizations were announced in May 2018. These finalizations come after a 94-day public comment period and four public meetings that resulted in 500 individual comments and related datasets leading to some revisions in basin prioritization.

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority seeks statements of interest

January 9, 2019

From the Sierra Wave:

“The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority is currently soliciting Statements of Interest from local individuals, entities or groups interested in participating as an “Interested Party,” which has a voting interest in the OVGA Board.

The OVGA was created to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requirement that local agencies sustainably manage groundwater in the Owens Valley Groundwater Basin. The basin includes the Owens, Round, Chalfant, Hammil, and Benton Valleys as well as Fish Slough. … ”

Read more from Sierra Wave here:  Owens Valley Groundwater Authority seeks statements of interest

Butte County: Helicopter survey should aid groundwater planning

January 6, 2019

From the Oroville Mercury Register:

“Butte County may soon have a better idea of what lies beneath its surface, thanks in part to the Kingdom of Denmark.  Starting in late November, a helicopter took off for several days from the Orland airport to fly a pattern over an area between Chico and Orland, and southeast into Butte Valley.  Dangling beneath the helicopter was a hoop loaded with devices that created a weak magnetic field and instruments that measured how that interacted with layers beneath the soil.

Christina Buck with the Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation explained that underground there are layers of sands and gravels that hold water, divided by layers of clay and silt that block water passage to different degrees. … ”

Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here:  Butte County: Helicopter survey should aid groundwater planning

Category: News Article

Groundwater replenishment, seawater intrusion project approved by Soquel Creek Water District

January 6, 2019

From California Water News Daily:

“The Soquel Creek Water District (SCWD) Board of Directors recently certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR) for its proposed Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project (Project).

The Dec. 18 board of directors meeting saw the unanimous approval of the Project plan following staff presentations, board discussion, and public input by more than 25 attendees. … ”

Continue reading at California Water News Daily here:  Groundwater replenishment, seawater intrusion project approved by Soquel Creek Water District

Category: News Article

Indian Wells Valley: Groundwater Authority committees meet for first time in 2019

January 6, 2019

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Technical Advisory and Policy Advisory committees met Thursday at the Indian Wells Valley Water District boardroom.  Special Legal Counsel Jim Markman was present during both meetings, though he mainly spoke and gave updates on the pumping and allocation process during the first portion of the PAC meeting.

Markman discussed his encounters and experience up until this point with other legal counsel involved in a handful of successful water negotiations in California, all of which had different scenarios and factors to them to show the possible solutions and outcomes to the committee. … ”

Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley: Groundwater Authority committees meet for first time in 2019

Category: News Article

FLOOD MAR LISTENING SESSION: Flood-MAR Agricultural Community Listening Session in Merced on January 14

December 29, 2018

From the Department of Water Resources:

On January 14th, please join us at a Flood-MAR Agricultural Community Listening Session to share your insights into potential barriers and challenges to implementing voluntary Flood-MAR projects in the Central Valley.

Event Description

In the fall of 2017, the State Board of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), with support from the Department of Water Resources (DWR), convened a public forum on Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). Participants identified a number of barriers and challenges to implementing Flood-MAR projects, such as permitting challenges and insufficient data and tools for identifying recharge potential and impacts to crops.

A key component in expanding Managed Aquifer Recharge is the willing participation of land owners. As potential implementers and beneficiaries, understanding the experiences, concerns, and questions of landowners within the agricultural and rural communities is critical to informing State and local agency planning and assistance, such as through DWR’s Flood-MAR program.  This “Listening Session” will be an opportunity for farmers and landowners to:

  • Share personal experiences or concerns about Flood-MAR implementation
  • Engage with and learn from farmers who have participated in pilot Flood-MAR projects
  • Advise on what incentives might encourage you to implement a Flood MAR project on your land
  • Learn about how State agencies are supporting the expansion of MAR

Date and Time: January 14, 2018 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: University of California Cooperative Extension
2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced, CA  95341-6445

Please RSVP here:

And please participate in our Landowner Experiences survey that will inform our conversation on January 14th

Category: DWR Updates

WESTERN GROUNDWATER CONGRESS: Multiple perspectives on groundwater-surface water interactions under SGMA

December 19, 2018
Panel discussion looks at groundwater-surface water interactions under SGMA from a regulatory, environmental, academic, and policy perspective

From Maven’s Notebook:

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act defines sustainable groundwater management in terms of avoiding six undesirable results defined in the legislation: declining groundwater levels, reduction in groundwater storage, land subsidence, sea water intrusion, water quality degradation, and depletion of interconnected surface water.  Of these six undesirable results, the one that has spurred the most discussion has been surface water depletions.

At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress held this fall, a panel of speakers offered their perspectives on surface water-groundwater interactions under SGMA.

Click here to read this article at Maven’s Notebook.

Butte County: Comments being taken on new groundwater management boundaries

December 18, 2018

From the Chico Enterprise-Record:

“Comments are being taken through Jan. 4 on the way Butte County and the rest of the state has been divided up to manage groundwater.

Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the major aquifers in the state are being divided into basins. Each one will have to have a governing board of some sort, which will develop and manage a plan to maintain the amount and quality of the water beneath to surface. … ”

Read more from the Chico Enterprise-Record here:  Comments being taken on new groundwater management boundaries

SGMA IMPLEMENTATION UPDATE: New Climate Change Data Tools Available

December 18, 2018

From the Department of Water Resources, Sustainable Groundwater Management Office:

Three, new climate change tools are now available on the California Natural Resources Agency Open Data Platform to assist local agencies with groundwater planning. The tools are:

  1. ArcGIS tool designed to work with USGS MODFLOW models.
  2. ArcGIS tool designed to work with Department of Water Resources IWFM models.
  3. Second Order Correction tool, designed to help correct for shifts in monthly timing and annual volume of streamflow in watersheds where the Variable Infiltration Capacity Model is used.

To view existing climate change resources plus the new desktop tools, click here.

For more information, contact Tyler Hatch at

Category: DWR Updates

Kern County proposes walking away from groundwater management role it previously embraced

December 10, 2018


“County government is considering pulling out of a coalition of local water agencies after failing to secure blanket immunity from lawsuits that could arise from efforts to rein in local groundwater pumping.

The proposal follows a written assurance by state water officials that the county’s withdrawal from the Kern Groundwater Authority will not, by itself, jeopardize local control of groundwater use across much of the area. Some local water agencies had worried it would. … “

Read more from here:  Kern County proposes walking away from groundwater management role it previously embraced

Keywords: Governance