With the January 31 deadline for critically-overdrafted basins to submit their plans, the Department of Water Resources has now posted the plans that are deemed complete. There are now over 40 GSPs posted for review.
DWR is required to post GSPs within 20 days of submittal. Once DWR posts the plan, a 75-day public comment period is initiated.
Note that you do not need to create a SGMA Portal account to submit a public comment.
‘Surviving is a real question’: can small farms endure under California’s landmark water law? “Nikiko Masumoto began her farming career in the summer of 2011, just as California was entering its worst drought in recorded history. Masumoto is the fourth generation of her family to farm this land in Del Rey: 80 organic acres of stone fruit in eastern Fresno county in California’s fertile Central Valley, its most perfect peaches bound for the epicurean Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. For four years in a row, the farm survived only on the water it could draw from underground. And as the drought persisted, the perfect peaches grew less perfect – smaller, malnourished. The farm lowered its wells and pumped more so Masumoto could keep the trees alive. The farm made it through by way of grit and preparation. But even with plenty of both, said Masumoto, “surviving is a real question.” … ” Read more from The Guardian here: ‘Surviving is a real question’: can small farms endure under California’s landmark water law?
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
State refuses to accept groundwater plans for the Madera subbasin: “In the first indication of how strict state officials will be with new groundwater sustainability agencies, the Department of Water Resources has refused to accept groundwater plans covering the Madera subbasin because one of those agencies did not sign a coordination agreement. The DWR has not posted the submitted groundwater sustainability plans on its website and notified all the GSAs that it is talking with the State Water Resources Control Board — the state’s enforcement arm — about the issue. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: State refuses to accept groundwater plans for the Madera subbasin
Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues migrating deeper: “Seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley continues to seep into the deeper aquifers, according to the latest Monterey County Water Resources Agency data, even as the overall rate of seawater intrusion continues slowing down. And while groundwater levels in the area continue recovering from the recent drought, the “mechanism” for seawater intrusion is still in place. Those are the conclusions drawn from the 2019 seawater intrusion and groundwater contour maps presented to the county water agency board on Tuesday. … ” Read more from the Monterey Herald here: Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues migrating deeper
Montecito’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency seeks community involvement: “The Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (Montecito GSA or Agency) will host a Public Meeting on February 24, 2020 at 5 p.m. at Montecito Union School, 385 San Ysidro Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. The meeting will provide an introduction to the Agency and a presentation on groundwater and its importance for the community. The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public and highlight opportunities to get involved. The Montecito GSA is actively seeking applicants for participation on two Advisory Committees: A Stakeholder Advisory Committee and a Technical Advisory Committee. ... ” Read more from Edhat here: Montecito’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency seeks community involvement
Groundwater Sustainability Agency for Montecito Basin gets preliminary approval for grant funding: “Montecito’s Groundwater Sustainability Agency needs to develop a management plan for the basin, which is pumped by water district and private wells. The state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act labeled the Montecito Groundwater Basin as “medium priority,” and the district’s board of directors also serves as the board of the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). The agency has preliminary approval for $1.6 million in grant funding it applied for last year, to develop and implement the management plan, spokeswoman Laura Camp said. … ” Read more from Noozhawk here: Groundwater Sustainability Agency for Montecito Basin gets preliminary approval for grant funding
INDIAN WELLS VALLEY (RIDGECREST)
Ridgecrest: Meters, geothermal project discussion planned for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting: “The first read of a meter ordinance and letter of concern about the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area project are among the primary topics for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors when it meets Thursday at 10 a.m at Ridgecrest City Hall council chambers, 100 W. California Ave. According to the released agenda, the proposed ordinance will the installation and reporting of meters on all groundwater extraction facilities defined in the ordinance. … ” Read more from the Siskiyou Daily News here: Meters, geothermal project discussion planned for Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting
Ridgecrest: Tentative timeline discussed at Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting: “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority achieved one milestone in January with the passage and submission of its groundwater sustainability plan to the state. Now it starts to plan the next set, according to a report from Stetson Engineers president Steve Johnson, the GA’s water resources manager. Johnson outlined a rough schedule of the next steps the GA will need to take as it implements the sustainability plan (GSP), a roadmap that needs to bring the IWV basin into sustainability by 2040. ... ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Tentative timeline discussed at Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meeting
Casitas backs extension for 14,000 or so people served, noticed in Ventura’s water lawsuit: “An Ojai Valley water agency says it, too, will support an extension for thousands of local property owners pulled into a potential water adjudication. Earlier this year, the city of Ventura began sending 12,700 legal notices and hundreds of summonses to those who own property near the Ventura River or over one of its four groundwater basins. They were given 60 days to file a response with the court or potentially lose their right to do so later. Worried about impacts to their property, many said they faced having to pay the required $435 court fee and possibly hire an attorney. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Casitas backs extension for 14,000 or so people served, noticed in Ventura’s water lawsuit
Court expected to decide this week on extension for those noticed in Ventura River lawsuit: “A judge is expected to decide Thursday whether 14,000 Ojai Valley and Ventura property owners will get a six-month reprieve in a potential water adjudication case. In January, the city of Ventura sent thousands of legal notices and summonses to people with property near the Ventura River or one of the area’s groundwater basins. The property owners were given 60 days to pay $435 in court fees and possibly hire an attorney to join the litigation or risk losing their ability to do so later. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Court expected to decide this week on extension for those noticed in Ventura River lawsuit
Updated pages at the Groundwater Exchange: New data and tools, new FAQS and Fact Sheets; SGMA presentations
Newly updated pages at the Groundwater Exchange:
FAQ, Fact Sheets and Brochures page updated: Looking for basic SGMA information handouts? Fact sheets on GSP evaluations and State Water Board intervention? Have questions about groundwater quality and SGMA? Looking for funding opportunities? Check out the newly updated FAQ, Fact Sheets, and Brochures page at the Groundwater Exchange.
New tools added to the Directory of Tools and Data: Do you want to know if a well is close to a nitrate or TCP-123 impacted well? Or want to explore domestic well water quality? Maybe you want to dig in and use the trends analysis tool? You can find all sorts of tools and data on the Groundwater Exchange’s Directory of Tools and Data.
Looking to learn more about SGMA implementation?
Check out the archive of SGMA implementation posts at Maven’s Notebook: If you want to know more about GSP Evaluations, establishing groundwater production allocations, establishing sustainable management criteria, how the Fox Canyon groundwater markets work, or other topics, I invite you to browse the archive of SGMA posts at Maven’s Notebook. It’s a collection of SGMA content like no other (in a good way).
DWR SGMA NEWS: View posted GSPs and make a public comment; DWR’s technical support projects; Written translation service now available; Draft Handbook for Water Budget Development released
Groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) for critically overdrafted basins were due to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) by January 31, 2020. Twenty-four of those plans are posted on the SGMA Portal and are open for public comment through April 15, 2020. The remaining plans will be posted and open for public comment in the coming weeks. Public comments on the GSPs are welcomed and encouraged. Information about how to comment on a plan can be found in a new fact sheet in English and Spanish. DWR will provide regular updates on submitted plans and public comment periods. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW Annual Reports Required by April 1, 2020
Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) which have submitted a GSP or Alternative to a GSP are required to submit an annual report to DWR by April 1. These reports will provide information on groundwater conditions and an update on implementation efforts for the prior water year. Information on what is expected in a report and how to submit these reports will be provided in the coming weeks.
NEW See the SGMA Workshop Video and PowerPoints
Earlier this year, DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) held regional workshops focused on evaluation of sustainability plans, the state’s role, annual reporting requirements and available resources. DWR plans to hold additional SGMA Workshops in the future. Many new tools are available online:
- Workshop video
- DWR workshop presentation slides
- Board workshop presentation slides
- DWR/Board fact sheet on submission and evaluation of plans in English and Spanish
For questions, email email@example.com.
NEW Learn more about DWR’s Technical Support Projects
DWR is advancing eight new projects to provide GSAs, stakeholders, and the public with regional and statewide data, tools, and analysis aligned with the technical requirements of the GSP regulations and SGMA.
Below are fact sheets for each project:
- Conduct Airborne Electromagnetic Surveys – Published 2019
- Improve Groundwater Elevation and Quality Monitoring Network – Published 2019
- Statewide Land Use Data Collection – Published 2019
- Improve Subsidence Monitoring Network – Published 2019
- Install and Maintain Stream Gauges – Published 2019
- Maintain and Enhance Statewide Well Completion Reports – Published 2019
- Manage and Report Sustainable Groundwater Information – Published 2019 (Includes planned timeline for projects)
- Enhance and Maintain DWR’s Modeling Tools – Published 2019
These projects are funded by Proposition 68. For information, visit the Prop 68 tab on the Data and Tools webpage.
NEW Written Translation Service Now Available
DWR’s Written Translation Service is available to help with communication to non-English speaking constituents. Translation services for materials are available in Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Laotian, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Visit the Written Translation tab on the Assistance and Engagement webpage for details.
NEW SGM Grant Draft Awardees Announced
DWR recently announced draft recommended funding awards for approximately $46.25 million in Proposition 68 and $1.2 million in Proposition 1 grant funding. The grants will assist awardees in developing a GSP or updating an approved Alternative to a GSP. Funding priority was given to applicants who had not received the SGM Planning – Round 2 funding. For more information, visit the SGM Grant Program webpage.
NEW Draft Handbook for Water Budget Development Released
DWR has released a draft single-volume Handbook for Water Budget Development: With or Without Models, which presents existing information on various methods and data sources for developing water budgets. The Water Budget Handbook can help inform the development of water budgets for any geographic area and time period, using modeling and non-modeling approaches. For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions on the Water Budget Handbook. The comment period is now open on the draft document and closes on April 7, 2020. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, attention Abdul Khan. For information on the Water Budget Handbook visit the Reports tab on the Data and Tools webpage.
NEW New SVSim Model Data Posted
The Future Water Supply program has posted the model mesh (node, element, and layer) data on the Sacramento Valley Groundwater-Surface Water Simulation Model (SVSim). These data are ASCII-formatted input for the Integrated Water Flow Model, which is the numerical model-code used for SVSim. Also available are the following technical memoranda:
- TM-1A Modeling Approach for C2VSim Enhancement
- TM-1B Development of Hydrogeologic Conceptual Model and Aquifer Parameters
- TM-2 Model Grid Development
REMINDER Statewide 2016 Crop Mapping Data is Online
The 2016 Statewide Crop Mapping data is now available online. This new dataset represents the 2016 main season agricultural land use, wetlands, and urban boundaries for the same time period for all 58 counties in California. For many years, DWR has collected land use data at the county level at different times across the state. Land use and crop mapping information is essential for regional analysis and decision making, which has become increasingly important as DWR, other state and local agencies, and landowners seek to manage the state’s water resources for longterm sustainability. For questions, email email@example.com.
REMINDER SGMA 2019 Basin Prioritization Finalized
DWR announced in December 2019 the completion of a multi-year process to prioritize California’s 515 groundwater basins. SGMA 2019 Basin Prioritization identifies 94 basins as medium or high priority. The plans for the 21 critically overdrafted basins were due January 31, 2020, while the remainder of the plans are due beginning on January 31, 2022. No future basin prioritization projects are planned at this time. For more information, visit DWR’s Basin Prioritization webpage. For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 also allows edits to be made to a previously submitted Initial Notification, including the ability to withdraw a submittal. For more information, contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR’s four Regional Offices. For assistance with the system, email email@example.com.
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.
A roundup of articles on SGMA from news outlets around the state
STATEWIDE NEWS AND COMMENTARY
Local agencies file management plans for aquifers: “The deadline passed at the end of January for local agencies representing 19 of the state’s most stressed groundwater basins to submit plans for how the basins will reach sustainability during the next 20 years. It’s a milestone in implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Speaking during the annual California Irrigation Institute conference in Sacramento last week, Tim Godwin of the California Department of Water Resources said the department is now reviewing the submitted plans. DWR will ultimately grade the plans as adequate; incomplete, which gives agencies 180 days to submit clarifying information; or inadequate, which requires DWR to consult with the State Water Resources Control Board on next steps. … ” Read more from Ag Alert here: Local agencies file management plans for aquifers
500,000 acres of San Joaquin cropland [could] go fallow as groundwater management goes into effect over 20 years: “Last month, many regions passed a major milestone in implementation of state legislation that has the potential to transform the way crops are farmed in the state. At the end of January, big regions of the San Joaquin Valley had to turn in their plans for how residents and growers would comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Although the deadline for Sacramento area basins isn’t until two years from now, there are things local growers should start doing now to prepare, said David Orth, principal at New Current Water and Land LLC. ... ” Read more from the Sacramento Business Journal here: 500,000 acres of San Joaquin cropland to go fallow as groundwater management goes into effect over 20 years
Water management in California is crossing a major milestone, and we still have more work to do, say Eric Averett, general manager of the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, and Christina Babbitt, senior manager of the California Groundwater Program at the Environmental Defense Fund: “Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. State leaders passed the law in 2014 to ensure California manages its groundwater sustainably for people, agriculture and wildlife for generations to come. On Jan. 31, the 21 regions with the most depleted groundwater supplies were required to submit plans to balance their groundwater supply and demand within 20 years. When successfully implemented, these plans will prevent a repeat of many of the impacts we experienced during the last drought: wells drying up and land sinking, resulting in rural residents running out of water and millions of dollars of infrastructure damage. … ” Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Water management in California is crossing a major milestone, and we still have more work to do
City of Willits invites public input on Groundwater Management Plan: “The public is invited to provide input on the Little Lake Valley Groundwater Basin Management Plan during a workshop held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20 at Willits City Hall. The goal of the plan is to collect information and compile a comprehensive summary regarding the groundwater in the Little Lake Valley in order to manage the City’s resources for generations to come. According to the City of Willits website, “The preparation of a Groundwater Management Plan is required as part of the conditions of the half million-dollar Proposition 1 grant funding that the City will receive from California Department of Water Resources to construct the next phase of the groundwater project.” … ” Read more from the Willits News here: City of Willits invites public input on Groundwater Management Plan
Yuba Water Agency adopts groundwater plan: “The Yuba Water Agency, along with other local groundwater sustainability agencies like Cordua Irrigation District and the city of Marysville, recently developed an official groundwater sustainability plan that outlines how to best utilize the county’s groundwater subbasins in a sustainable manner. As part of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, groundwater sustainability agencies across the state are required to prepare and submit plans that include measurable objectives and milestones to achieve sustainability. … ” Read more from The Union here: Yuba Water Agency adopts groundwater plan
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Have thoughts about groundwater cuts in Merced County? The state wants to hear from you: “Do you have something to say about the state-mandated sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural groundwater consumption in Merced County? Now is the time to say it. The Jan. 31 deadline for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day public comment period before the Department of Water Resources reviews it. ... ” Read more from the Merced Sun-Star here: Have thoughts about groundwater cuts in Merced County? The state wants to hear from you
The McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency sued the James Irrigation District and James Groundwater Sustainability Agency in Fresno Superior Court, in a fight over groundwater management. via Courthouse News Service.
Irrigation water prices under SGMA causing sticker shock: “Reaction was hushed when Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District General Manager Eric Averett asked the small group of farmers Tuesday morning if any were interested in buying irrigation water at the previously unheard of price of $770 an acre foot. No papers rustled. Keyboards went silent. And none of the growers raised a hand. ... ” Read more from SJV Water here: Irrigation water prices under SGMA causing sticker shock
Kings County groundwater plan raising questions: “It’s hard to imagine state officials giving the thumbs up to a groundwater sustainability plan that potentially allows Corcoran – California’s subsidence epicenter – to sink another 6 feet. Especially considering the tiny, rural town was forced to spend $14 million in 2017 to rebuild its levees following the 2012-16 drought when it suffered subsidence of up to 1.5 feet a year. … ” Read more from SJV Water here: Kings County groundwater plan raising questions
Paso Robles: Groundwater sustainability plan, first annual report available for review: “The Paso Robles Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) has been posted to the Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Portal. The public comment period for the GSP is open until April 15, 2020. Access the posted GSP and submit public comments here: https://sgma.water.ca.gov/portal/gsp/preview/35 … ” Read more from Paso Robles Daily News here: Groundwater sustainability plan, first annual report available for review
Ventura vs Ojai water war: “There is a legal battle between Ventura and the Ojai Valley. Thousands of people have been served with legal papers in a fight over water from the Ventura River. While the Ventura River may be beautiful, a legal case over its water is turning ugly. Thousands of people like Jessica Colborn, born and raised in Upper Ojai, are being served legal papers. This is because of their wells that use water from the river. “My parents got served on their property as well as their adjacent property that I am putting my home on,” said Colborn. “So they got served with two different actions because they have two wells on those properties.” ... ” Read more from KEYT here: Ventura vs Ojai water war
Thousands served, noticed in Ventura’s water lawsuit may get reprieve: “More than 14,000 property owners recently noticed or served in the city of Ventura’s litigation over use of the Ventura River may get a bit of a reprieve. The Ventura City Council announced Monday that it may request a six-month extension from the court for the thousands who were sent legal notices or served with a court summons in the case. Without the delay, property owners have 60 days to file with the court to become a participant in the lawsuit, which would require them to pay $435 in court fees and, in some cases, hire an attorney. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Star here: Thousands served, noticed in Ventura’s water lawsuit may get reprieve
Clarifying Channelkeeper’s role in Ventura River watershed adjudication: Ben Pitterle, science and policy director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper writes, “I’m writing to the VC Reporter to offer clarification for property owners in the Ventura River watershed about Santa Barbara Channelkeeper’s role in the groundwater adjudication initiated by the city of Ventura. Santa Barbara Channelkeeper is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to protect and restore the Santa Barbara Channel and its watersheds (including the Ventura River) through science-based advocacy, education, field work and enforcement. We are aware that residents throughout the Ventura River watershed recently received notice from the city of Ventura that the city has commenced an adjudication of water rights. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Reporter here: Clarifying Channelkeeper’s role in Ventura River watershed adjudication
Ventura County joins Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency: “In a unanimous vote on Feb. 4, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Ventura provided the final decision needed to form a new agency in the form of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) called the Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency made up of four local agencies: the Carpinteria Valley Water District, the city of Carpinteria, the Santa Barbara County Water Agency and the county of Ventura. … ” Read more from Coastal View here: Ventura County joins Carpinteria Groundwater Sustainability Agency
Petition for comprehensive adjudication for the Borrego Springs groundwater basin: The Borrego Water District sued Agri-Empire and 59 other entities in San Diego Superior Court, in a fight over the limited amount of groundwater in the Borrego Valley, northeast of San Diego.
A joint workshop hosted by the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board provides details on how incoming plans will be evaluated and what State Water Board intervention might look like
It has been over 1950 days since the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was signed into law, and since that time, the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board, and the myriad of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies across the state have been working diligently to create a new paradigm for groundwater management for California.
On January 31, 2020, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies overseeing groundwater basins designated as critically-overdrafted are required to submit their adopted Groundwater Sustainability Plans to the Department of Water Resources. Failure to submit a plan or submitting a plan that is deemed inadequate by the Department of Water Resources could result in intervention by the State Water Resources Control Board. The remaining high and medium priority basins that are subject to SGMA will be submitting their plans in just two years’ time, so how these first GSPs will be evaluated is of interest for the remaining basins who are responsible for developing, adopting, and submitting their plans to DWR by January 31, 2022.
With the deadline of January 31st fast approaching, the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board held joint workshops in Paso Robles and in Clovis earlier this month to give groundwater managers and stakeholders a better understanding of how the Department will approach evaluation of the groundwater sustainability plans and the triggers and process for intervention by the State Water Board.
The State Water Board has a number of fact sheets available:
- Probationary Designation and Groundwater Regulation by the State Water Board : This fact sheet covers the state intervention process; what happens, why it is triggered, and how to avoid it.
- Stakeholder Inclusion: This fact sheet has information on how stakeholder inclusion can make the plan stronger.
- State and Regional Water Boards Basics: There water boards have several regulatory programs and so this fact sheet clarifies the roles of the State Water Board and the semi-autonomous Regional Water Quality Control Boards with water quality regulation authorities as there are several regulatory programs.
- Funding Opportunities for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies .
- Purposes of Use for Underground Storage Projects : A fact sheet developed by the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights that clarifies some of those questions around purpose of use with groundwater recharge projects and permitting.
- Water Quality Frequently Asked Questions: This fact sheet is targeted at the GSAs with information on how to address water quality.
A round-up of media articles about groundwater and SGMA implementation from around the state
Time’s up on groundwater plans: one of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained: “Much of California’s water supply is a hidden asset: Deep below the surface, rocks, gravel and sand store water like a sponge, in an underground zone called an aquifer. In dry years, this groundwater has been tapped to save farms, keep grass green and provide drinking water to millions of Californians. But over time, people have taken more water out than nature has put back in. Estimates vary, but according to the U.S. Geological Survey, California pumped 41 trillion gallons of water from the ground in about 100 years, through 2013. In some parts of the Central Valley, that means land has been dropping around a foot a year. … ” Read more from KQED here: Time’s up on groundwater plans: one of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained
Why California’s water crisis is everyone’s problem: “The state of California is no stranger to calamity, as evidenced by the persistent droughts and devastating wildfires that have ravished the land in years past. Now, however, it is facing a crisis of another kind, and at this critical juncture the fate of the global agriculture industry hangs in the balance. California comprises 14 percent of the U.S. economy, much of which is fueled by agriculture. The state’s agriculture industry produced $50 billion in output last year. California supplies approximately 50 percent of the country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables across almonds, apricots, avocados and many more grown foods. However, a law crafted in 2014 dubbed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a product of the severe seven-year drought, stands to jeopardize ag production in the state, which has far reaching implications nationally and around the world. … ” Read more from Global Ag Investing here: Why California’s water crisis is everyone’s problem
Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall: “A black lab trots dutifully behind as Randy Fiorini proudly points out the drip irrigation lines running along the base of his walnut trees. The orchards sit on land first planted in 1907 when his grandfather established Fiorini Ranch a few miles outside of Delhi, California after relocating from Redondo Beach. A cement ditch carrying water from the Don Pedro Reservoir about 50 miles away runs alongside peach, almond, and walnut trees. Back when the ranch was irrigated by flooding its fields, Fiorini would splash around with his childhood friend, Scott Severson, in the huge pools under the shade of the trees. Like Fiorini, Severson grew up to farm his family’s ranch nearby in Merced County. Like most parts of the Central Valley, the Fiorini and Severson ranches in the Turlock Irrigation District used surface water when it was available, and pumped groundwater when it wasn’t. … ” Read more from the Bill Lane Center for the American West here: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall
Dairy industry gives update on challenges it is facing: “Dairymen and others in the industry are expected to descend on Sacramento to display their global accomplishments. Funding in part by a grant from Farm Credit, than 600 farmers, policy makers, service providers and researchers are expected to attend the California Dairy Sustainability Summit during the March 25-26 Cal Expo. California’s dairy industry is responsible for just under one-fifth of all the milk produced in the U.S., contributes $65 billion to the state’s economy and is responsible for 180,000 California jobs. And while the industry has made impressive gains in becoming more environmentally sustainable, it continually faces new requirements. … ” Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here: Dairy industry gives update on challenges it is facing
California water restrictions to become more severe: “Water woes in California’s major dairy shed are likely to get worse. The state will soon begin to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which could boost the cost of milk production while devaluing dairy farm assets for some producers, says Sarina Sharp, analyst with the Daily Dairy Report. “Over the next two decades, the SGMA will dramatically alter groundwater use throughout the state, especially in the Central Valley, where water shortages are most severe,” Sharp says. California dairy producers will also likely see production costs rise as feed crops lose acreage to cash crops. … ” Read more from Milk Business here: California water restrictions to become more severe
Perspectives on groundwater sustainability: Erik Ringelberg with the Freshwater Trust: “The Freshwater Trust is most well-known for its work on protecting freshwater river ecosystems. In California, a significant amount of surface water bodies are regulated and diverted through dams and other surface water infrastructure. Surface water bodies also lose flow when the groundwater is depleted. So for our efforts in California, we see as an important role for the Trust to use our understanding of surface waters and apply that to protecting their associated groundwater systems. California is catching up on groundwater protection and we are taking the lessons we have learned from other Western states and applying them to groundwater in California. … ” Read more from the We All Live Downstream blog here: Perspectives on groundwater sustainability
NAPA VALLEY/BAY AREA
New Napa County groundwater agency hears from critics at its first meeting: “Local environmentalists want to make sure Napa County’s new groundwater oversight agency hears their voices, a step that agency members said they intend to take. County supervisors formed the Napa Valley Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agency on Dec. 17 with themselves as the governing board. Critics wanted an agency board with diverse interests, such as the groundwater users and the environment. … ” Read more from the Napa Register here: New Napa County groundwater agency hears from critics at its first meeting
Santa Clara: Valley Water working to ensure groundwater users are fairly charged for benefits received: “In Santa Clara County, the largest supply of water is hidden beneath our feet. Local groundwater basins can hold more water than all 10 of Valley Water’s reservoirs combined and serve as our primary reserve in times of drought. Groundwater provides about 40% of the water used in Santa Clara County, and nearly all the water used in South County. Because the amount of groundwater pumped far exceeds what is naturally replenished by rainfall, Valley Water’s groundwater management activities are critical to maintaining healthy groundwater basins. ... ” Read more from Valley Water News here: Santa Clara: Valley Water working to ensure groundwater users are fairly charged for benefits received
Yuba Water Agency adopts Groundwater Sustainability Plan: “Yuba County’s groundwater subbasins have been sustainably managed for decades, and with 80 percent of Yuba’s residents relying on groundwater as their sole source, it’s critical that it remain sustainable for the long-term. With that in mind, Yuba Water Agency adopted an official groundwater sustainability plan, known as the Yuba Subbasins Water Management Plan. The plan, developed in coordination with Cordua Irrigation District, the city of Marysville and many interested stakeholders, will guide the continued management and use of groundwater in Yuba County. … ” Read more from Yuba Net here: Yuba Water Agency adopts Groundwater Sustainability Plan
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Tulare County: Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board approves GSP; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns: “Now that the Groundwater Sustainability Plan has been approved, the real work begins so to speak. The Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board approved the GSP at its meeting on Friday, laying out the goals for the agency to meet the state requirement to reduce groundwater usage to what’s considered a sustainable level by 2040. The plan was due to be submitted to the state by January 31. The ETGSA covers virtually all of Southeastern Tulare County. … ” Read more from the Porterville Recorder here: Tulare County: Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board approves GSP; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns
Kern’s final groundwater plan approved: “After months of fireworks over lowball pumping numbers and concerns that some groundwater agencies wouldn’t get on board, Kern’s last groundwater sustainability plan was approved Wednesday with barely a murmur. The Kern Groundwater Authority board of directors voted unanimously to adopt its final GSP with just two weeks to spare before the massive document is due to the state Department of Water Resources. ... ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Kern’s final groundwater plan approved
Owens Valley groundwater basin is officially “low”: “The Owens Valley Groundwater Authority has been flailing in limbo as the California Department of Water Resources stood poised to publish the final priority rating for the state’s groundwater basins, as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Then, in mid-December, the OVGA received word, the priority list had been finalized and the Owens basin was officially low. … ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley groundwater basin is officially “low”
Inyo to take ‘no’ position on Indian Wells Valley plan to tap into LA Aqueduct: “Inyo County Supervisors had a no-brainer at Tuesday’s Board meeting. The question: what position should the Board’s representative take on Indian Wells Valley’s option to tap into the Los Angeles Aqueduct to solve its critical overdraft problem? The decision was a unanimous “no.” Listening to John Vallejo, deputy county counsel, describe the situation begged the question “what was Indian Wells thinking?” … ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Inyo to take ‘no’ position on Indian Wells Valley plan to tap into LA Aqueduct
Indian Wells Valley groundwater plan approved: “With the bang of a gavel, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board of directors passed its groundwater sustainability plan following years of planning and heavy debate. “We have a GSP,” said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, the board chair. ... ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley groundwater plan approved
Petrochem sold as a water war looms in the Ventura River Watershed: “The Ventura River Watershed is a vast area stretching from the Ventura River mouth to the Upper Ojai Valley and back to the edges of the Sespe, with an arm reaching into Santa Barbara County. It encompasses all the land that gathers water from local mountain peaks, channeling it down into barrancas and drainages, combining into creek beds and eventually all coming together into the Ventura River to stream out to the Pacific Ocean. It includes not just water visible at the surface, but also the deep groundwater basins that fill water wells for thousands of property owners in the area. … Two stories are currently unfolding in the Ventura River Watershed, one regarding a polluted property that is changing hands, the other involving a legal case that could have ramifications for all water users and water rights for decades. … ” Read more from the Ventura County Reporter here: Petrochem sold as a water war looms in the Ventura River Watershed
As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability. For groundwater basins in overdraft, groundwater production allocations may be a vital tool; however, SGMA explicitly states that it does not alter water rights, which means groundwater sustainability agencies have to carefully navigate between the confines of water rights and SGMA requirements in developing and implementing their groundwater sustainability plans.
At ACWA’s fall conference, a panel discussed the legal framework, different types of groundwater rights, lessons learned from existing groundwater production allocation programs, and potential pitfalls and practical approaches to developing a groundwater sustainability plans with production allocations as a component to reaching sustainability goals.
Seated on the panel:
- Wendy Wang, an attorney with Best Best and Krieger
- Eric Robinson, an attorney with Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann and Girard
- Dr. Jill Weinberger, a hydrogeologist with Dudek
Here’s what they had to say.
From the Department of Water Resources:
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the 2016 Statewide Crop Mapping data. This new dataset represents the 2016 main season agricultural land use, wetlands, and urban boundaries for all 58 counties in California for the same time period. For many years, DWR has collected land use data at the county level at different times across the state. Land use and crop mapping information is essential for regional analysis and decision making, which has become increasingly important as DWR, other state and local agencies, and landowners seek to sustainably manage the state’s water resources.
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