Richard Frank writes,
“The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District has issued an important decision declaring that California’s powerful public trust doctrine applies to at least some of the state’s overtaxed groundwater resources. The court’s opinion also rejects the argument that California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) displaces the public trust doctrine’s applicability to groundwater resources.
The Court of Appeal’s opinion in Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board decides two key issues of first impression for California water law: first, whether the public trust doctrine applies to California’s groundwater resources; and, second, if it does, if application of that doctrine has been displaced and superseded by the California Legislature’s 2014 enactment of SGMA. A unanimous appellate panel answered the first question in the affirmative, the second in the negative. … “
Read more from the Legal Planet here: California Court Finds Public Trust Doctrine Applies to State Groundwater Resources
Timothy Parker and Graham Fogg discuss the benefits and the challenges of Managed Aquifer Recharge, and how MAR can be key to water security in a changing climate
From Maven’s Notebook:
Groundwater is an essential water source, providing 35% of the fresh water used in California, and significantly more in drought years. However, when groundwater is used more rapidly than it is naturally replenished, actions must be taken to correct the imbalance, and one of the tools used by groundwater managers is managed aquifer recharge (or MAR).
Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) enhances the recharge rate by creating artificial streams and ponds where water trickles into the ground, or by using wells to directly inject water underground. MAR can also be used to improve groundwater quality and prevent some of the negative consequences of groundwater depletion, like ground sinking (subsidence) or the intrusion of salty groundwater from the oceans into coastal freshwater aquifers.
In an American Geosciences Institute webinar, Timothy Parker, principal hydrogeologist at Parker Groundwater, discusses managing groundwater storage and managed aquifer recharge in California. Next, Graham Fogg, from UC Davis discusses recharge and reservoir management and keys to water security.
Read more at Maven’s Notebook here: Managed Aquifer Recharge in California
From the Cornell University Chronicle:
“Despite higher-than-normal amounts of rain in early 2017, the large agricultural and metropolitan communities that rely on groundwater in central California experienced only a short respite from an ongoing drought.
When the rain stopped, drought conditions returned and the ground has continued to sink, by up to a half-meter annually, according to a new Cornell study in Science Advances. … “
Read more at the Cornell Chronicle: Groundwater loss prompts more California land sinking
From the San Diego Union Tribune:
“A major step toward solving the water woes of the desert community of Borrego Springs depends on passage of a statewide $8.8 billion bond initiative in November known as Proposition 3.
If it passes, $35 million would go to Borrego, much of which would be used to purchase and fallow farmland in the Borrego Valley.
“We are very hopeful,” said Beth Hart, president of the Borrego Water District. “If it goes through then the struggles the community has been facing and will be facing in the future under the Sustainable Ground Management Act (SGMA) will find some significant relief.” … “
Read more from the San Diego Union Tribune here: Statewide November vote could be key to solving Borrego Springs water woes
From Water Deeply:
“When California passed its landmark groundwater law in 2014, there was a collective “it’s about time” across the West. But even though California may have been late in issuing a robust groundwater management law, it does set a high bar in at least one key area.
“In regards to the environment, it is actually quite progressive in that it actually explicitly mentions that groundwater-dependent ecosystems need to be identified and there can’t be impacts to them,” said Melissa Rohde, a groundwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy.
If you’re not quite sure what a groundwater-dependent ecosystem (GDE) is, you’re not alone. Many newly formed groundwater sustainability agencies that have resulted from California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are also just figuring that out. … “
From the Ridgecrest Independent:
“Things are pacing along with the Department of Water Resources as the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority awaits final authorization on a set of Proposition 1 grants, according to the agency’s water resources manager.
Steve Johnson, president of Stetson Engineers, Inc. and the Groundwater Authority’s water resources manager, provided an update to the agency’s board of directors on Aug. 16. He noted that revised agreements have been submitted to the state before it executes the $2.1 million grant agreement. … “
From Water Deeply:
“Across California, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) are devising plans to reduce long-term overdraft. As part of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, GSAs will submit plans in 2020–22, which detail strategies to bring groundwater use into balance by 2040.
Planning processes must assemble stakeholders and estimate sustainable yields of groundwater, quantify existing pumping, describe future options to limit overdraft and identify funding. GSAs are actively searching for ways to stretch limited supplies and sustainably use the underground storage space created by decades of overdraft, drawing on lessons of previous regional agreements. … “
Read more from Water Deeply here: ‘Exchange Pools’: Los Angeles Provides Innovative Groundwater Strategy
From Maurice Hall at EDF’s Growing Returns blog:
“The Cosumnes River is one of the last undammed rivers west of the Sierra Nevada. While not a large river, it flows year-round out of the Sierras, east of Elk Grove, south of Sacramento, and across the floor of the Central Valley before adding its modest flow to the Mokelumne River.
Every year, however, around the Fourth of July, the lower part of the Cosumnes River goes dry, even while the flow from the Sierras continues. The lower river stays dry until the first big rains come, sometimes as late as December or January, and resumes its high flow throughout the winter months.
How can a river be flowing and then disappear downstream? The explanation lies in the inevitable interaction between groundwater and surface water, which have been managed separately – until now. … “
From Sierra Wave:
“The decision to go high or low was more than a political strategy popularized by Michele Obama. For the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority it represented a total commitment to groundwater sustainability under state regulations.
Here’s the deal: the Owens Valley groundwater basin was ranked as a medium priority, requiring the development of a groundwater agency and sustainability plan. Local use would have landed the basin in the low category but the exports by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power landed the valley in the medium range. … “
From the Ridgecrest Independent:
“The Indian Wells Valley Water District board offered up its thoughts on the IWV Groundwater Authority ahead of the latter agency’s meeting today.
At the heart of those concerns was the continued request for a standing finance committee and questions on the Groundwater Authority’s budget as it prepares a groundwater sustainability plan for the IWV basin.
Peter Brown, the Water District’s representative on the board, said he submitted questions on the budget back in June. … “