SGMA in the News

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meetings get interesting

July 18, 2018

From the Sierra Wave:

Owens Valley Groundwater Authority meetings are a little like watching a chess match. Not really adrenaline inducing, but there’s a lot going on between moves.

Last Thursday’s meeting is a good example.

The question before the 11-member board dealt with the re-prioritization of the Owens Valley basin from medium to high—a new wrinkle from the Department of Water Resources to slam a 42-point whammy on basins that export water.

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Category: News Article

Thirsty vineyard, Big Ag test landmark aquifer law

July 17, 2018

From E&E News:

When Roberta Jaffe and her husband planted their small vineyard, one factor trumped all others: groundwater.

Knowing that this isolated valley in south-central California relies on a depleted aquifer, the couple “dry farmed” their Condor’s Hope Ranch, using 5 percent or less of the water required by a conventional vineyard.

“For us, it is very much about farming in a way that is harmonious with the environment,” Jaffe said. “This is what we see as what this environment can handle.”

So Jaffe was alarmed when Harvard University’s endowment fund installed an 850-acre conventional vineyard just down the road in 2014 — and drilled 14 wells.

Continue reading at E&E News by clicking here.

Category: News Article

Indian Wells Valley Water District board airs concerns

July 14, 2018

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

A hint of exasperation and modicum of frustration emanated from Indian Wells Valley Water District board members on Monday when discussing the upcoming IWV Groundwater Authority July 19 meeting.

When water district general manager Don Zdeba said an outline of the upcoming meeting should give a good idea of what will be discussed, board president Ron Kicinski was the first to voice frustration.

“I’m not sure there’s a whole for us to discuss,” Kicinski said, referencing the water district. “We’ve continued to ask for a finance committee, continued to ask that the preliminary fees for the plan implementation be reduced or eliminated if possible. I don’t know what to say anymore.”

Continue reading at the Ridgecrest Independent by clicking here.

Category: News Article

The Valley floor is sinking, and it’s crippling California’s ability to deliver water

July 13, 2018

From the Sacramento Bee:

Completed during Harry Truman’s presidency, the Friant-Kern Canal has been a workhorse in California’s elaborate man-made water-delivery network. It’s a low-tech concrete marvel that operates purely on gravity, capable of efficiently piping billions of gallons of water to cities and farms on a 152-mile journey along the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.

Until now.

The Friant-Kern has been crippled by a phenomenon known as subsidence. The canal is sinking as the Valley floor beneath it slowly caves in, brought down by years of groundwater extraction by the region’s farmers.

Category: News Article

With an eye toward the future, Marina Coast Water District looks to reduce dependence on groundwater

July 13, 2018

From Monterey Weekly:

“Since its inception, the Marina Coast Water District has relied on groundwater for its water supply, the majority of which comes from the deep aquifer, an ancient, finite water supply believed to be more than 20,000 years old.

But with the ever-advancing threat of seawater intrusion, an increase in agricultural wells pumping from the deep aquifer, and to fulfill contractual obligations with the Fort Ord Reuse Authority, Marina Coast is looking to further augment its water supply and increase its water security. … “

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Groundwater authority fields questions in 2nd town hall meeting

July 13, 2018

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

 … The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority team faced a group of hundreds as people filled most of the seats at the Kerr McGee Center’s main banquet room. The Groundwater Authority’s legal team — IWV Water District counsel Jim Worth, Ridgecrest city attorney Keith Lemieux, and water resources manager Steve Johnson — fielded questions from a long line of residents after providing background on a planned pumping fee. …

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Wells, metering project subject of water district committees

July 7, 2018

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

“The Indian Wells Valley Water District’s finance and plants and equipment committees on Tuesday discussed costs for some final projects as well as the price tag of an upcoming customer portal project for the district’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure program.

At the plants committee meeting on Tuesday, Water District associate engineer Travis Reed updated committee members and staff on completion of rehabilitation work for its Well 18. The final results came back clean.

Reed noted that the rehab project included a number of change orders from the contractor that performed the work. … “

Continue reading at the Ridgecrest Independent by clicking here.

Category: News Article

Paso’s wells could collapse into the Salinas River. Here’s how the city is preventing that

July 7, 2018

From the San Luis Obispo Tribune:

After two winters of downpours, the resources that supply Paso Robles with two-thirds of its drinking water are on the verge of collapsing into the Salinas River.

The city’s Thunderbird well field — used to extract water that’s percolated under the sandy riverbed — and the equipment used to process Lake Nacimiento water are located on a dangerously eroded riverbank.

Although the river looks dry now, it’s become swollen with water during the past two rainy seasons — more so than during the previous five years of drought.

Category: News Article

New Groundwater Woes, and Regulations, in California Wine Country

July 2, 2018

From Water Deeply:

California’s premier wine-growing region has been identified for more regulation under the state’s new groundwater law, likely resulting in new fees and limits on water extraction for the industry.

The state Department of Water Resources declared in May that 14 groundwater basins across the state face threats to groundwater, and thus should be reprioritized under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Four of these are in Napa and Sonoma county wine-growing valleys.

The aquifers in question are the Sonoma Lowlands subbasin in Napa and Solano counties, the Alexander Valley basin and Healdsburg area subbasin in Sonoma County and the Wilson Grove Highlands basin in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Each is a vital source of irrigation water for grape growing. … “

Read more from Water Deeply here:  New Groundwater Woes, and Regulations, in California Wine Country

Dry wells, sinking land and fears of a global food crisis

June 25, 2018

From E&E News:

The bottom is falling out of America’s most productive farmland.


Swaths of the San Joaquin Valley have sunk 28 feet — nearly three stories — since the 1920s, and some areas have dropped almost 3 feet in the past two years.

Blame it on farmers’ relentless groundwater pumping. The plunder of California’s aquifers is a budding environmental catastrophe that scientists warn might spark a worldwide food crisis.

“This is not sustainable,” said Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “If those aquifers continue to be depleted and if we start running out of water in these big aquifer systems, the global food system is going into meltdown mode.”

Click here to continue reading at E&E News.

Category: News Article