SGMA in the News

Water officials work to assist recharge projects

November 6, 2019

“A technique that would help California manage floodwater and replenish groundwater has gained more attention, and removing barriers to the strategy known as Flood-MAR provided the focus for a conference in Sacramento.  F

lood-managed aquifer recharge involves moving floodwater from surface streams onto land where it could percolate into a groundwater basin. Though the concept sounds simple, it brings complications that include managing the floodwater, finding appropriate land to accept it and establishing rights to the water involved. … ”

Read more from Ag Alert here: Water officials work to assist recharge projects

Category: News Article

Farmland owners look to solar as groundwater restrictions loom

November 6, 2019

“New solar energy installations may be headed to the valley portion of Kern County as investors, government officials and advocacy groups weigh options for reusing land that will have to be taken out of production as a result of state restrictions on groundwater pumping.

Photovoltaic solar arrays, for years an attractive investment for local farmland owners, would appear to align with California’s ambitious goal of meeting all its electricity needs with renewable energy. … ”

Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Farmland owners look to solar as groundwater restrictions loom

Category: News Article

Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

November 6, 2019

“Jovita Torres Romo lives in a grayish bungalow surrounded by cactus and succulents and strung with Christmas lights. It’s located on one of the handful of streets that make up Tombstone Territory, an unincorporated Fresno County community that’s been her home for 30 years. …

A tiny community on the outskirts of the City of Sanger, Tombstone is a bellwether for groundwater issues—one of the reasons Governor Gavin Newsom chose the community as the location to sign the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act into law earlier this year. … ”

Read more from KVPR here: Disadvantaged communities claim a stake in state groundwater overhaul

Category: News Article

SGMA news from around the state

November 6, 2019

San Luis Obispo Supervisors react to ag board letter regarding Paso basin:  “San Luis Obispo County supervisors offered their reactions on Oct. 22 to a recent California State Board of Food and Agriculture letter that levied criticism against the county’s approach to groundwater management in Paso Robles.  The Sept. 30 ag board letter shared concerns about “limited” ag industry involvement in developing sustainability plans for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin, as part of complying with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). … ”  Read more from New Times SLO here: San Luis Obispo Supervisors react to ag board letter

Look out for a helicopter hoisting a giant hexagon over Paso. Here’s what it’s up to:  “In the next few weeks, a large hexagon will soar through the sky, dangling from a low-flying helicopter over the rural towns and farms east of Paso Robles.  It isn’t the latest trend in skydiving. Rather, it’s the frame for an aerial mapping technology that California is borrowing from Denmark to study how water moves underground.  That’s important information to have. … ”  Read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune here: Look out for a helicopter hoisting a giant hexagon over Paso. Here’s what it’s up to

Selma: New laws may result in water rate increases:  “In order to keep up with the State’s underground water recharge laws, sooner or later, local water rates will likely need to increase.  That was the message local water management officials gave in a joint presentation at the Oct. 21 Selma City Council. … ”  Read more from the Hanford Sentinel here: New laws may result in water rate increases

Bakersfield: Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks:  “The thinking started small and then grew much bigger at a gathering Tuesday in Bakersfield that was intended to provide a “survival toolkit” for farmers and water managers facing drastic restrictions on Central Valley groundwater pumping.  Irrigation and other technical specialists opened the meeting by promoting ways to maximize the region’s existing water resources. Discussions ranged from individual investments in desalination to gathering water-use data as a way for farmers to defend against government accusations of over-pumping. … ”  Read more from here:  Farmers urged to think big and small to survive groundwater cutbacks

Lois Henry: Kern groundwater shortfall numbers closer to reality:  “New numbers coming in from water districts to the Kern Groundwater Authority show a groundwater overdraft of 249,644 acre-feet a year — and that’s a good thing.  “At the last meeting, I admonished water managers to get serious about this, and I’m pleased to report that they have,” said Dennis Mullins, chairman of the KGA, during Wednesday’s meeting. He referred to the Sept. 25 meeting at which he said it was “obvious that some districts have created water with their paperwork” and that the state would not accept such “phony numbers.” … ”  Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Lois Henry: Kern groundwater shortfall numbers closer to reality

Searles Valley Minerals reasserts water claims to IWVGA board:  “Searles Valley Minerals reasserted that its right to pump water from the Indian Wells Valley during public comment at the IWV Groundwater Authority meeting on Oct. 17.  Tom Bunn, SVM’s attorney, cited that this right trumps the Navy’s 1943 federal reserve rights, the year that the naval air facility at China Lake was established. … ”  Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Searles Valley Minerals reasserts water claims to IWVGA board

Montecito’s ‘lousy’ ground water basin:  “The groundwater basins on most of the urban South Coast are drought buffers of last resort, to be conserved for pumping in emergencies.  But in Montecito, as many as 1,500 private well owners may have “straws” in the same small basin as the Montecito Water District with its 12 public wells, a team of consultants told the district board this month. … ”  Read more from the Santa Barbara Independent here: Montecito’s ‘lousy’ ground water basin

Category: News Article

Integrated Hydrologic Model Development and Evaluation for Non-Modelers

October 24, 2019

Dr. Douglas Tolley gives an explanatory presentation on integrated hydrologic modeling, including how models are coupled and key terms such as sensitivity analysis, model calibration, and uncertainty analysis

Douglas Tolley recently finished his PhD from UC Davis where his research focuses on the development, calibration, and prediction uncertainty of groundwater models.  In this presentation from the Groundwater Resource Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, Dr. Tolley focused on integrated hydrologic model development and evaluation from the standpoint of a non-modeler with the goal of providing the layperson with a fundamental understanding of what integrated hydrologic modeling is, as well as applications and processes involved with model development itself, such as sensitivity analysis, calibration, and uncertainty analysis.

Click here to continue reading at Maven’s Notebook.

As Groundwater Law Plows Forward, Small Farmers Seek More Engagement

October 24, 2019

Dennis Hutson’s rows of alfalfa, melons, okra and black-eyed peas are an oasis of green in the dry terrain of Allensworth, an unincorporated community in rural Tulare County. Hutson, currently cultivating on 60 acres, has a vision for many more fields bustling with jobs. “This community will forever be impoverished and viewed by the county as a hamlet,” he says, “unless something happens that can create an economic base. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

While he scours his field for slender pods of ripe okra, three workers, community members he calls “helpers,” mind the irrigation station: 500-gallon water tanks and gurgling ponds at the head of each row, all fed by a 720-foot-deep groundwater well.

Read more from Valley Public Radio by clicking here.

Groundwater Recharge Projects Get Boost Under AB 658

October 24, 2019

Assembly Bill 658, signed into law last week, creates new temporary diversion permits allowing for excess surface water capture during high-flow events. Permits automatically expire after 180 days, unless renewed. The law is designed, in part, to encourage groundwater recharge projects that could assist groundwater sustainability agencies and other local agencies to achieve groundwater sustainability requirements under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, known as SGMA.

Click here to read more from Best Best & Krieger.

Groundwater Pumpers Beware: The Public Trust Doctrine is Lurking

October 24, 2019

The Third District Appellate Court recently issued a long-awaited decision in Environmental Law Foundation vs. State Water Resources Control Board (ELF v. SWRCB). The decision confirms the expansive scope of California’s public trust doctrine by ruling that the doctrine applies to the extraction of groundwater if the extraction will adversely impact a navigable waterway. The court also determined that the 2014 enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) did not displace the common law duty to consider public trust interests before allowing groundwater extractions that could potentially harm a navigable waterway. The case arose in the context of a lawsuit over Siskiyou County’s (the County) obligations in administering groundwater well permit and management programs with respect to the Scott River, a navigable waterway tributary to the Klamath River. The Scott River is a public trust resource.
Read more from the National Law Review by clicking here.

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future

October 24, 2019

To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Continue reading from Western Water by clicking here.

RADIO SHOW: What Is ‘SGMA?’ A Primer On California’s Groundwater Overhaul Law

October 24, 2019

We in California are depleting our groundwater aquifers faster than we can replenish them. Over the last few decades in the San Joaquin Valley, that deficit has averaged close to two million acre-feet per year, a total that was exacerbated by drought conditions that may become more common as the climate continues to change.

To help reduce this deficit, state lawmakers and Governor Brown in 2014 passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, which aims to overhaul the way growers, cities and other water users manage the resource.
While many hail SGMA as a success in state legislation and others say the law represents government overreach, most seem to agree: It could change agriculture and the economy in the San Joaquin Valley in a very big way. In this interview, we talk about the nuts and bolts of SGMA with Stephanie Anagnoson, Director of Water and Natural Resources with Madera County.

Click here to listen to the radio show from Valley Public Radio.