SGMA in the News

Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge

October 18, 2018

From Water Deeply:

Researchers at the University of California recently highlighted a flaw in state law that may prohibit diverting streamflow to recharge groundwater. The problem is that groundwater recharge by itself is not considered a “beneficial use” under state law, and meeting that definition is a requirement to obtain a permit to divert water.

Officials at the State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees water rights, say the reality is not so clear-cut. In fact, existing rules allow most groundwater recharge projects to obtain a water right. It’s just that they may not be awarded that right for the act of recharge by itself. The applicant would have to specifically target some ancillary benefit of recharge, such as salinity control in an aquifer or reversing land subsidence caused by overpumping groundwater. … ”

Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge

Category: News Article

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s light agenda features POAM, Prop 1 status

October 18, 2018

From the Ridgecrest Independent:

“The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets Thursday at 11 a.m. at Ridgecrest City Council council chambers, 100 W. California Ave.

The Groundwater Authority board will have a light agenda, including a report from Steve Johnson, the water resources manager and president of Stetson Engineers.  Johnson’s report will include discussion of the Groundwater Authority’s Plan of Action and Milestones, which serves as the agency’s roadmap in developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan, as well as topics including the status of a Proposition 1 grant application, and updates on the pumping fee status and schedule. … ”

Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here:  Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority’s light agenda features POAM, Prop 1 status

Category: News Article

Groundwater: Local agencies await finalized basin priorities

October 17, 2018

From Ag Alert:

“As local agencies tackle the task of writing groundwater sustainability plans for basins around California, two ongoing processes will affect both the number and the scope of those plans.

Next month, the state Department of Water Resources plans to finalize its rankings of basins and sub-basins that will need to produce groundwater management plans by early 2022. Next spring, DWR plans to finalize boundaries for 43 basins where local agencies requested changes before writing their plans.

Meanwhile, agencies overseeing critically overdrafted basins must have their sustainability plans finished in about 15 months—by Jan. 31, 2020. … “

Read more from Ag Alert here:  Groundwater: Local agencies await finalized basin priorities

Category: News Article

The Connection between Groundwater and Surface Water

October 15, 2018

From the PPIC Blog:

“When the California Legislature created the “modern” water rights regulatory system more than a century ago, it focused exclusively on surface water, exempting groundwater from the permitting system. Yet in most watersheds, surface water and groundwater are closely linked. Actions that change one often have an impact on the other. The arbitrary legal divide has made it harder to manage the state’s water. But a recent law and a new court decision have done a better job of connecting surface water and groundwater.

When rain falls or snow melts in the foothills and mountains of California, water follows several pathways downhill and into rivers and streams. Some water moves across the land or through deep soils and weathered bedrock, arriving in rivers hours to weeks after rain or snowmelt. And some percolates deep into the ground, becoming groundwater. … “

Read more from the PPIC blog here: The Connection between Groundwater and Surface Water

Category: PPIC Blog

METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT: Update on Southern California regional groundwater conditions

October 15, 2018
Data shows groundwater recharge in the region has declined by 1.1 MAF since 2000; storage remains at unhealthy levels

From Maven’s Notebook:

“At the October meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Senior Engineer Matt Hacker updated the committee members on regional groundwater conditions, including groundwater production, recharge, and storage conditions.

There are 88 groundwater basins and subbasins within the Metropolitan service area.  Groundwater provides over 1/3rd of the region’s water supplies.  89% of the basins within the Metropolitan service area either are adjudicated or managed. … “

Continue reading at Maven’s Notebook here:  METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT: Update on Southern California regional groundwater conditions

Acampo vineyard flooded in experiment to recharge aquifer

October 14, 2018

From the Stockton Record:

 “The setting was a 14-acre grape vineyard, but the mismatched background noise was that of a babbling brook.  The roots of some of the old-vine Zinfandel plants were submerged in foot-deep water pumped in from the Mokelumne River, a half-mile away. Other old-vine Zinfandel plants were bone dry.

A science experiment being conducted by the nonprofit Sustainable Conservation is taking place on land owned by 81-year-old farmer Al Costa, an enthusiastic participant. … ”

Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Acampo vineyard flooded in experiment to recharge aquifer

Category: News Article

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY: Bureau of Reclamation provides funding opportunity for established watershed groups for on-the-ground watershed management projects

October 11, 2018

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation has opened a funding opportunity for watershed groups to seek funding to implement on-the-ground watershed management projects for their communities. The funding provided through the Cooperative Watershed Management Program helps local stakeholders develop local solutions that will improve water reliability while reducing conflict, addressing complex water issues and stretching limited water supplies.

Reclamation anticipates awarding between six and 10 projects through this funding opportunity. To view the funding opportunity, please visit and search for opportunity number BOR-DO-18-F013. Applications are due on January 30, 2019 by 4:00 p.m. MDT.

Each project may receive up to $300,000 in federal funding. The recipient must provide a minimum of 50-percent of the total project costs.

To be eligible for this funding, the applicant must be a watershed group. A watershed group is defined as a grassroots, non-regulatory entity that addresses water availability and quality issues with the relevant watershed, is capable of promoting the sustainable use of water resources in the watershed, makes decisions on a consensus basis, and represents a diverse group of stakeholders, including irrigated agriculture, the environment, municipal water suppliers, hydroelectric producers, livestock grazing, timber production, land development, recreation or tourism, private property owners, federal, state and local governments, and tribes.

To learn more about the Cooperative Watershed Management Program, please visit

Through WaterSMART, Reclamation works cooperatively with States, Tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and attention to local water conflicts. Visit for additional information about the program.

Paso Robles: Creston landowners voice qualms about Paso water management

October 11, 2018

From New Times SLO:

“Agencies overlying the 780-square-mile basin are tasked with writing a 20-year groundwater sustainability plan to submit to the state by 2020, and San Luis Obispo County and water basin officials are holding forums with affected property owners in the seven basin “sub areas” to gather their thoughts on the process and what they want in future groundwater levels.

Several dozen Creston landowners attended and inundated hydrologist Derrik Williams with questions and concerns. Many expressed skepticism toward the data on the conditions of the basin, and took issue with the boundaries of the Creston sub-area, which includes the wine region of El Pomar near Templeton. … “

Read more from New Times SLO here:  Creston landowners voice qualms about Paso water management

Category: News Article

This week at the Groundwater Exchange …

October 10, 2018

Free webinar on the Groundwater Exchange tomorrow from 12pm to 1pm:  Please join us for a free webinar where I’ll take you through the website and show you all the features tucked in there.  Click here to register.

The State Water Board will hold a public workshop on Groundwater-Surface Water interactions on December 3rd in Sacramento.  The goal of the workshop is to provide water managers, including GSAs and others, with a menu of approaches to consider as they contemplate managing their own watersheds to prevent or manage depletions of interconnected surface water.  To attend, you’ll need to RSVP before October 21st.  Click here for more detailsView this event and other groundwater events at the Groundwater Exchange calendar (also available on the main menu bar).

Category: This week

The public trust and SGMA

October 10, 2018

Brian Gray at the California Water Blog writes,

In a recent decision in litigation over flows and salmon survival in the Scott River system, the California Court of Appeal has ruled that groundwater pumping that diminishes the volume or flow of water in a navigable surface stream may violate the public trust. The public trust does not protect groundwater itself. “Rather, the public trust doctrine applies if extraction of groundwater adversely impacts a navigable waterway to which the public trust doctrine does apply.”

The court also concluded that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) does not preempt or preclude independent application of the public trust to groundwater pumping, finding “no legislative intent to eviscerate the public trust in navigable waterways in the text or scope of SGMA.”

These interpretations follow from both hydrology and law. …

Read more from the California Water Blog here:  The public trust and SGMA