SGMA in the News

SLO County set to extend Paso Robles groundwater restrictions

May 31, 2019

 “A 6-year-old county policy requiring farmers with new crops over the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin to offset their water use is poised for another extension.  San Luis Obispo County officials are concerned about a looming “gap” in regulation over the 780-square-mile basin, which has struggled in recent years with development and drought.

First adopted in 2013 amid drying wells over the basin, the county offset ordinance put a theoretical moratorium on agricultural pumping. … ”

Read more from New Times San Luis Obispo here: SLO County set to extend Paso Robles groundwater restrictions

Keywords: Governance

Stormwater recharge abilities enhanced at Seven Oaks Dam

May 31, 2019

“As Southern California’s most recent rainstorm was moving into the Inland Empire on Thursday morning, May 23, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District celebrated the completion of an enhanced recharge project designed to enable the district to capture water from Santa Ana River during rainstorms, improving the district’s ability to recharge groundwater supply by 80,000 acre-feet a year.

The district hosted its partners Western Municipal Water District and Riverside Public Utilities as well as other local water agencies for the opening of a new diversion channel and sedimentation basin constructed south of Seven Oaks Dam and just north of Greenspot Road last year. … ”

Read more from Highland Community News here:  Stormwater recharge abilities enhanced at Seven Oaks Dam


ELLEN HANAK: Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley

May 29, 2019

Ellen Hanak delivers four priorities for managing the implementation of SGMA in the San Joaquin Valley

The San Joaquin Valley is California’s largest agricultural region and an important contributor to the nation’s food supply, producing more than half of the state’s agricultural output.  Irrigated agriculture is the region’s main economic driver and predominant water user.

However, the San Joaquin Valley is at a pivotal point. It is ground zero for many of California’s most difficult water management problems, including groundwater overdraft, contaminated drinking water, and declines in habitat and native species.  The Valley has high rates of unemployment and pockets of extreme poverty, challenges that increase when the farm economy suffers.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local water users to bring their overdrafted groundwater basins into balance by the early 2040s.  With the largest groundwater overdraft in the State, the implementation of SGMA will have a broad impact on Valley agriculture in coming years, and will likely entail fallowing of significant amounts of farmland.

Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley” is the third installment of a research project by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Policy Center on solutions to the San Joaquin Valley’s water challenges. Ellen Hanak is director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a senior fellow at PPIC. At the May meeting of the California Water Commission, she discussed the findings of their research and recommendations regarding the challenges facing the San Joaquin Valley.

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


SGMA Survival Tool Kit: Free event in Exeter tomorrow (May 30)

May 29, 2019

Join Water Wrights, the Tulare County Farm Bureau and the WET Center at Fresno State for the second SGMA Survival Tool Kit on Thursday, May 30th from 3:00-6:00 pm at the Exeter Memorial Building 324 N. Kaweah Ave, Exeter, CA 93221.

There is no charge and Gar Tootelian will be providing us BBQ beef sandwiches, the American Pistachio Growers Association will provide us pistachios and [Don Wright’s] 81-year old mother baked 300 homemade cookies. Tulare Farm Bureau is bringing bottled water and I’ve heard a rumor the California Milk Producers Council might show up with some milk or ice cream or who knows? butter squares and yogurt. There will be door prizes as well.

This is not a GSA meeting or a DWR or State or Regional Board meeting; there will be some DWR folks there to help with the interpretation of the law but not to tell us what to do. And of course GSAs will be a topic but the message about them will be – they are our neighbors doing some heavy lifting. They are not the enemy and need our support and input.

This meeting is about what farmers can do to prepare for SGMA before it’s implemented next year. Are their wells and irrigation systems operating optimally? Is their monitoring and record keeping up to speed? Do they have their legal and real estate ducks in a row? There are experts speaking on these subjects but we will be encouraging growers to speak as well.

For more information, click here.

Category: Public meetings

License to pump: New web portal examines, compares and explains the permitting process of groundwater pumping across seven U.S. states.

May 29, 2019

Overpumping groundwater poses a major threat to the availability of a critical resource, especially in the arid lands of the Southwestern United States. States across the region have sought to deal with this issue through a wide variety of regulations and permitting processes. A new dashboard tool, created by affiliates from Stanford’s Water in the West program, compares groundwater withdrawal permitting – a common tool used by resource managers to limit groundwater pumping – to help plan for a more sustainable future.

“Western states have adopted a wide range of approaches towards regulating groundwater pumping, but information about these approaches are not always shared across the region. Our goal is to help parties in different states learn from what is happening elsewhere. This is particularly important in California, where local agencies are working to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Water in the West and a dashboard contributor.

Click here to continue reading at Water in the West.

Category: New reports

DWR reverses Solano lowlands groundwater priority for now

May 23, 2019

“It appears Solano County and Vallejo have avoided a potentially costly state shift in the groundwater sustainability priority for the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands.  While the final decision by the Department of Water Resources has not been made, the state agency has for now backed off its proposal to increase the priority status from very low to medium for the lowlands.

“That would have required us, Napa County, possibly (the Solano County Water Agency), American Canyon and the city of Vallejo to form (Groundwater Sustainability Areas),” Misty Kaltreider, hydro-geological analyst for the Solano County Department of Resource Management, said in a phone interview. … ”

Read more from the Daily Republic here:  DWR reverses Solano lowlands groundwater priority for now

Category: News Article

Sonoma County approves a plan to offset Groundwater Fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

May 23, 2019

“On Tuesday, May 21, the Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Water Agency(Sonoma Water Board) and the  Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (County Board) approved a plan to offset a fee that is likely to be imposed on groundwater users in the Santa Rosa Plain (an area extending from Santa Rosa west to Sebastopol, north to Windsor and south to Cotati).

Under the plan, the County and Sonoma Water would contribute a total of up to $240,000 annually for three years to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). … ”

Read more from the Sonoma Gazette here:  Sonoma County approves a plan to offset Groundwater Fees in the Santa Rosa Plain

Keywords: Pumping Fees

Indian Wells Valley: Update on imported water provided

May 23, 2019

“A firm hired by the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority is already in the initial phase to find sources of imported water for the valley, according to a progress report delivered at a Thursday board meeting.

IWVGA general manager Don Zdeba briefed the board of director that Capitol Core Group, which was retained in March, is looking at what water supply options are available and how to secure funding to ultimately purchase and develop infrastructure to deliver into the valley. … ”

Read more from the Taft Midway Driller here:  Indian Wells Valley: Update on imported water provided

Category: News Article

DWR SGMA NEWS: Draft basin prioritization for modified basins meeting video available; C2VSimFG BETA2 model released; Public comment period opens for SGM grant program; and more …

May 22, 2019

NEW Draft Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins Meeting Video Available

The recorded video of the Draft Basin Prioritization for Modified Basins Meeting held on May 13, 2019, and the PowerPoint presentation are now available online. The public comment period for 2019 Basin Prioritization Phase 2 remains open through May 30, 2019.

For questions, email sgmps@water.ca.gov.


NEW GSAs May Need to Update Posted Notifications

Many existing groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) need to modify posted notifications to align with new 2018 basin boundaries, reflect new basin names, or clarify groundwater management intent.

If your GSA has been affected by a basin boundary or basin name change you should update that information on the SGMA Portal. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) encourages GSAs to clearly define exclusive groundwater management boundaries on the SGMA Portal before adopting and submitting a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to certify that a basin has complete GSA coverage. A GSP Initial Notification may also need to be revised or re-submitted. To modify existing GSA information, an authorized user must log into the GSA Formation Notification System and follow the instructions on page 7 of this document.

DWR has updated its GSA Frequently Asked Questions and GSA Formation Notification Guidelines documents to help local agencies and GSAs make informed decisions when establishing or reorganizing basin-wide governance.

For more information, visit DWR’s Groundwater Management webpage.

For questions, please email sgmps@water.ca.gov.


NEW C2VSimFG BETA2 Released

The Beta 2.0 version of the Fine Grid California Central Valley Groundwater-Surface Water Simulation Model (C2VSimFG BETA2) is now available to assist GSAs during the development and implementation of GSPs. C2VSimFG BETA2 is a computer program that simulates water movement through the linked land surface, groundwater, and surface water flow systems in California’s Central Valley using the DWR-developed software, Integrated Water Flow Model Version 2015 (IWFM-2015). The new version is an update to the model released in May 2018. DWR spent the last year actively updating the newest model to incorporate additional data, feedback, and understanding of the complex hydrology, hydrogeology, and operations in California’s Central Valley. The C2VSimFG BETA2 includes updates to inflows, diversions, evapotranspiration, precipitation, land use, root zone parameters, urban per capita water use, and select aquifer parameters.


NEW Public Comment Period Opens for SGM Grant Program

DWR opened the 45-day public comment period for the Draft Proposition 68 2019 Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program Guidelines and the Planning – Round 3 Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) to make approximately $47 million available for competitive grants.

The public comment period began on May 3, 2019, and will close at 5 p.m., on June 17, 2019. DWR will release the final guidelines and solicit proposals following the review of public comments.

For more information on this solicitation and to view the full program schedule, click here. Email comments to SGWP@water.ca.gov.


NEW DWR Updates SGMA Data Viewer with Subsidence Information

DWR has updated the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program’s SGMA Data Viewer to include updated subsidence information to help GSAs, water managers and others implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

DWR is providing these standardized, statewide datasets to assist GSAs in the creation and ongoing development and implementation of GSPs. The new information is available on the SGMA Data Viewer mapping application under the land subsidence heading. It includes historical subsidence information from 1949 to 2005, and updated satellite based remote sensing InSAR subsidence data from January 2015 to June 2018. InSAR is a technique for mapping ground deformation using radar images of the Earth’s surface that are collected from orbiting satellites.

DWR has also created an online tutorial on how to use the SGMA Data Viewer and view the new information. For additional SGMA related data and tools, visit DWR’s Groundwater Data and Tools webpage and the California Natural Resources Open Data Platform.

For questions, email sgmps.water.ca.gov.


REMINDER Take a Survey to Help Plan the Next GSA Forum

DWR hosted a GSA Forum in March 2019 which brought together water planners and stakeholders from across the state to share experiences and strategies as they implement the SGMA. Based on the level of interest and comments received from attendees, the forum was a beneficial venue for building networks and sharing strategies associated with SGMA implementation. DWR plans to host additional GSA Forums to further communication among SGMA water managers and stakeholders. Please complete the survey so we can use your input to help plan and improve the next GSA Forum.


REMINDER: IRWM Implementation Grants Proposal Solicitation Package Available

DWR released the final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) for the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Program, which provides funding for projects that help meet the long-term water needs of the state and incorporate integrated regional strategies. Approximately $222.3 million in Proposition 1 grant funding is available for IRWM implementation projects, with $23.6 million designated for projects that provide support to Disadvantaged Communities. GSAs and SGMA stakeholders interested in IRWM Implementation funding should coordinate with their respective IRWM Region.


REMINDER DWR’s Guidance Documents Can Help with SGMA Communication and Engagement

SGMA requires GSAs to consider all beneficial uses and users when preparing GSPs. DWR has documents that provide clarification, guidance, and examples to help GSAs develop the essential communication and engagement elements of a GSP. These useful publications can be found on the Assistance and Engagement Webpage.

Guidance documents include: Stakeholder Communication and Engagement, Engagement with Tribal Governments, Stakeholder Engagement Requirements by Phase, and Communication and Engagement Plan Outline.


REMINDER Submit Your GSP Initial Notification

Before initiating development of a GSP, GSAs are required to notify DWR in writing. GSAs must submit all applicable GSP initial notification information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System. The SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System also allows edits to be made to a previously submitted Initial Notification, including the ability to withdraw a submittal.

For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions on GSP Initial Notification Requirements or contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR’s four Regional Offices.

For assistance with the system, please email monica.reis@water.ca.gov.


Connect with Your Basin Point of Contact

DWR has designated Basin Points of Contact to assist local agencies and GSAs as GSPs are developed and implemented and to assist with applications for Technical Support Services and Facilitation Support Services.

For regional inquiries, please contact sgmp_rc@water.ca.gov.

For general inquiries, please contact sgmps@water.ca.gov.

Category: DWR Updates

CALIFORNIA WATER POLICY CONFERENCE: Tribal Groundwater Rights and SGMA: A New Underlying Tension?

May 15, 2019

Pauma Valley, North San Diego County. Photo by Michael Huey.

Panel discussion moderated by DWR Tribal Advisor Anecita Agustinez discusses tribal involvement in GSAs, the benefits of tribal participation in groundwater management, and tribal consultation

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (or SGMA), passed in 2014, set a course for sustainable management of the state’s groundwater aquifers by requiring Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) be formed for all high and medium priority basins in the state who then must develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

The legislation provides that tribes “may voluntarily agree to participate in the preparation or administration of a groundwater sustainability plan” and are “eligible to participate fully in planning, financing, and management” – the first time this has been recognized in state law.  However, participation by tribes is voluntary; tribes are considered sovereign entities and their participation cannot be compelled.

Nonetheless, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires engagement with all stakeholders. Tribal interests are an important stakeholder in many basins, but most of the basins underlying tribal lands are exempt from SGMA as a consequence of relatively low intensity use of the groundwater. However, in those basins that are subject to SGMA that have tribal lands, the recent Aqua Caliente court decisions have put tribal interests front and center. What are the challenges for the tribes and non-tribe stakeholders in coming together to implement SGMA? Are tribal interests different than those of other stakeholders? How are financial inequities, if they exist, addressed?

At the 28thCalifornia Water Policy conference held in April of 2019, a panel discussed how tribal lands and tribal representatives, as independent nations, can be integrated into SGMA implementation, what some of the obstacles to doing so are, and how those hurdles might be transcended.

Seated on the panel:

The panel was moderated by Anecita Agustinez, Tribal Policy Advisor for the California Department of Water Resources.

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