Six regions of California that considered themselves to be managing groundwater sustainably have been informed otherwise by state officials, who rejected alternatives to preparation of groundwater sustainability plans for the regions. Three of the applicants have agreed to form groundwater sustainability agencies as required under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The remaining three—in Humboldt, Lake and Napa counties—face decisions on how to proceed.
In all, the California Department of Water Resources reviewed alternative proposals for 15 groundwater basins or subbasins, and approved nine of the proposals.
The agencies that submitted alternatives must satisfy the objectives of SGMA, and demonstrate the basin has been operating sustainably for at least 10 years or has a well-defined plan to achieve sustainability within 20 years. The law, approved in 2014, requires local agencies overseeing basins ranked as medium or high priority to develop groundwater sustainability plans or submit an alternative.
Continue reading from Ag Alert here: Groundwater: Agencies react to rejection of alternative plans
Jay Lund writes,
This week’s short post is on groundwater law – from the viewpoint of physics. Water policy, management, and human law often misunderstand how groundwater and surface water work physically.
Bredehoeft, et al. (1982) distill a longstanding lament of many groundwater experts, “Perhaps the most common misconception in groundwater hydrology is that a water budget of an area determines the magnitude of possible groundwater development. Several well-known hydrologists have addressed this misconception and attempted to dispel it. Somehow, though, it persists and continues to color decisions by the water-management community.”
Continue reading at the California Water Blog here: Groundwater Law – Physical – “the water budget myth”
Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District (Rosedale) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a joint pilot project today to build the first online, open-source groundwater trading platform in the Central Valley in response to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
An early design of the trading platform, which is being co-created by landowners, Rosedale and EDF, will be available in September. The platform will be further tested and refined this fall during a series of workshops and mock trading sessions prompted by various scenarios.
The preliminary schedule calls for a beta version of the platform to go live in early 2020 for the landowner group to test with real trades. A final version will go live for landowners in the Rosedale district in 2021.
Click to continue reading at the Environmental Defense Fund here: EDF and Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District to Build New Groundwater Trading Market
Susan Tatayon, chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, writes:
California has a vast water supply not just in its lakes, rivers, and estuaries, but also underground. For years, California’s cities and farms have depended on this unseen resource, especially in the southern part of the state where rainfall is low, surface water is scarce, and demand is high. In fact, underground aquifers provide about 40 percent of California’s water supply in a normal year and significantly more in dry years.
Groundwater is also something that, until recently, was largely absent from the state’s water management oversight; this changed in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For the first time in its history, California established minimum standards for sustainable groundwater management. If local resource managers fail to meet these standards, this legislation authorizes the state to intervene to protect groundwater basins. SGMA is an earth-shaking move toward managing California’s groundwater and surface water as an interconnected system.
This month has seen a flurry of SGMA-related activity. Following an extensive, two-year technical review, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) made its first SGMA determination, approving nine alternatives to groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) and disapproving six plans. This initial determination is an important first test of SGMA and sets the bar for future GSPs and alternative plans ahead of a Jan. 31, 2020 deadline for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to submit their plans.
Continue reading at the Delta Stewardship Council blog here: What Does Groundwater Have to Do with the Delta? A Lot.
Chico State, Stanford University helping county analyze water basin management: “A Butte County project will expand its partnership with Chico State and Stanford University to analyze available groundwater systems. The AEM project involves analysis of well logs, and hopes to expand the analysis using magnetics and a grid to fill in holes in the data. It’s a groundbreaking project for water management in the county, according to Paul Gosselin, director of the county’s water and resource management department. … ” Read more from the Oroville Mercury-Register here: Chico State, Stanford University helping county analyze water basin management
Lake County to consider shifting Big Valley groundwater management: “On Tuesday, the Lake County Board of Supervisors, sitting as the directors of the county’s watershed protection district, will consider forming a new groundwater management agency for the Big Valley basin. Lake County Water Resources Interim Director Scott de Leon writes that “In order to maintain local and sustainable management of the Big Valley groundwater basin, it is in the best interest for the County that the Board of Directors of the Lake County Watershed Protection District approve the resolution authorizing the District to from the Big Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency.” … ” Read more from the Lake County Record Bee here: Lake County to consider shifting Big Valley groundwater management
Roseville: Groundwater basin recharged with 470 Olympic-sized pools worth of water: “Increasingly, water management in California is a balancing act where solutions must knit together the needs of people, industry, farming, species and the environment. Managing water to benefit these multiple uses is hard enough if water was a stationary resource – but it’s not. Especially during the winter months, water managers confront complex decisions about when and where water is released from reservoirs for winter flood protection as well as environmental flows and supply needs throughout the year. … ” Read more from the City of Roseville here: Roseville: Groundwater basin recharged with 470 Olympic-sized pools worth of water
Lodi: Groundwater draft plan reaches milestone: Jane Wagner-Tyack writes, “An important but not widely-publicized local planning process reached a milestone with the July release of the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin. This is the public’s first chance to see how groundwater in this region may be managed for the next 20 years. … ” Continue reading at the Lodi News-Sentinel here: Lodi: Groundwater draft plan reaches milestone
San Benito: Groundwater plan is moving along: “Adopted in 2014, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) sets milestones that must be met to achieve groundwater sustainability. The law requires formation of local groundwater sustainability agencies—or GSAs—to guide groundwater management in basins and sub-basins classified by the state as medium- or high-priority. The local agencies must work together with groundwater users to develop groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) that will guide decisions affecting groundwater use and fees. The San Benito County Water District is the GSA for the North San Benito Basin and is preparing a GSP in partnership with Santa Clara Valley Water District (now known as Valley Water), for small areas of the basin that extend into Santa Clara County. ... ” Read more from Benito Link here: San Benito: Groundwater plan is moving along
Thirsty for sustainability: Is Paso Robles any closer to solving its groundwater problem?: “On a blistering hot July day in San Miguel, Robert Galbraith, 68, bends down and scoops up two handfuls of dry soil. He spreads his fingers and lets the dirt fall back to his fallowed ground. The motion is symbolic of how Galbraith feels his family farm is slipping away from him. A San Luis Obispo County policy regulating pumping from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin has hamstrung how Galbraith can farm his land. … ” Read more from New Times SLO here: Thirsty for sustainability: Is Paso Robles any closer to solving its groundwater problem?
Owens Valley Groundwater Authority awaiting decision from Department of Water Resources: “The tentative low priority status of the Owens Valley groundwater basin has only heightened the complexity of the Owens Valley Groundwater Authority’s meetings, not lowered them. The current nine board members opted to hold off on additional meetings until the state Department of Water Resources issues its final decision. The delay will also give the members’ individual entities another chance to figure out if they want to proceed with a Groundwater Sustainability Plan and all the potential requirements of that plan. The snag in the delay is the deadline of January 31, 2022 when medium and above priority basins will have to have a plan in place. … ” Read more from the Sierra Wave here: Owens Valley Groundwater Authority awaiting decision from Department of Water Resources
Ridgecrest: TAC takes a crack at latest groundwater model: “The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority Technical Advisory Committee got a look at a new modeling scenario that could help define a groundwater sustainability plan required by the Department of Water Resources. Jeff Helsley with Stetson Engineers, Inc., the Groundwater Authority’s water resources manager, provided the update during a meeting Thursday at Ridgecrest City Hall. The modeling scenario, labeled “Modified Water Buyout” is the sixth model to be developed, and is the modified version of a previous model identified as the most likely acceptable solution for stakeholders. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: TAC takes a crack at latest groundwater model
Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority PAC meets today to discuss modeling scenario: “The Policy Advisory Committee of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority meets today at 1 p.m. for a special meeting at Ridgecrest City Hall council chambers, 100 W. Ridgecrest Blvd. The committee’s top agenda item will be the discussion of the latest groundwater modeling scenario, which provides possible guidelines and outlooks related to the goal of achieving a safe sustainable pumping yield required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. ... ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: PAC meets today to discuss modeling scenario
Tulare Irrigation District applies for groundwater grant: “The Tulare Irrigation District is seeking a grant to develop a groundwater exchange market with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The grant would determine the viability of a water market for the Kaweah subbasin, which would involve the groundwater sustainability agencies managing the subbasin: Mid-Kaweah, Greater Kaweah and East Kaweah. Paul Hendrix, the general manager for the Mid-Kaweah groundwater sustainability agency (GSA), said all three GSAs would be involved in developing a water market for the Kaweah subbasin and deciding how the market is shaped. ... ” Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here: Tulare Irrigation District applies for groundwater grant
Bakersfield: Hard Rock casino could ease county’s water worries, officials say: “As the Tejon Tribe casino makes its way through the regulatory process, concerns have been raised over the impact the complex will have on the county’s groundwater. However, county officials believe the casino may actually use less water than the farms that currently occupy the planned site just south of Bakersfield. But questions do remain as to how much water the casino will actually need to operate. ... ” Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Hard Rock casino could ease county’s water worries, officials say
Kern County: Groundwater trading program, first of its kind for Central Valley, is being designed: “In a first for Kern County and the Central Valley, a groundwater trading program is being designed to help local growers meet new regulations under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act — which kicks in next year. The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District is working with the Environmental Defense Fund to develop a web-based platform growers can use to sell or buy units of groundwater. New state regulations take effect in 2020 that essentially prohibit water districts in California from taking more water out of the ground than they can put back in on an annual basis. … ” Read more from KGET here: Groundwater trading program, first of its kind for Central Valley, is being designed
San Bernardino Basin has record recharge: “Nearing the end of the San Bernardino Basin area’s first water year with above average precipitation since 2010-11, San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District reported more than 20 billion gallons of water captured, a new record for captured groundwater recharge. This milestone was reached the last week of July, with two months left in the water year, and represents enough groundwater to serve 180,000 families for one year, according to a conservation district press release. ... ” Read more from the Highland Community News here: San Bernardino Basin has record recharge
Minimum thresholds, measurable objectives, undesirable results: A panel of consultants discuss the specifics of how their GSAs determined sustainable management criteria
The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 requires that groundwater basins be managed such that the use of groundwater can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results. In order to demonstrate sustainability, the Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations require the development of locally-defined quantitative sustainable management criteria, including undesirable results, minimum thresholds, and measurable objectives.
At the second annual Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit, hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association in June of this year, a panel of consultants discussed the process and the specifics of how they developed sustainable management criteria for their basins.
The Groundwater Game provides players with an interactive opportunity to experience the challenges of managing increasingly scarce groundwater when there are competing needs. The game also provides players with a greater understanding of different management tools, including groundwater trading.
The tool was co-developed through a social science research partnership with Environmental Defense Fund, University of Michigan professors Robert Goodspeed and Colleen Seifert, and Environmental Incentives in response to new groundwater legislation in California.
Maurice Hall: Holistic and inclusive groundwater management and SGMA
August 14, Riverside 6pm to 8pm
In his David Keith Todd Distinguished lecture for 2019, Maurice Hall will share his vision on how more holistic and inclusive groundwater management can increase the resilience of our water supply and sustain and enhance the services that groundwater basins provide for a wide range of stakeholders. Maurice will share some suggestions on how the flexibility offered by California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act allows for innovative approaches that support multiple benefits and how engaging stakeholders beyond water interests in shaping groundwater management can lead to more resilient rural communities and strengthen regional cooperation.
For more information and to register, click here. You do not have to be a member to attend.
WEBINAR: Groundwater Recharge & Environmental Flows: Balancing Our Depleted Supplies & Ecosystem Needs
August 16, 12pm to 1:30pm
Groundwater managers across the state are looking to groundwater recharge as a potential solution to their community’s water challenges. Come join the NGO Groundwater Collaborative for a conversation on the statewide efforts looking at recharge, environmental flows, water rights, and permitting from a panel of experts on the topic. Presentations will be followed by 20-30 minutes of Q&A discussion, so come prepared to engage!
Pond Planning and Groundwater Recharge Workshop
August 17, Redway (Northern California)
SRF and Sanctuary Forest will host a Pond Planning and Groundwater Recharge Workshop and Field Tour this summer to highlight rainwater catchment ponds and groundwater recharge concepts and opportunities. Presentations will focus on Redwood Creek planning efforts and conceptual designs for the Marshall Ranch flow enhancement planning project, Sanctuary Forest’s pioneering recharge efforts, and expert presentations on groundwater hydrology. The workshop will include a field tour to the Sanctuary Forest Baker Creek project shown above.
Click here for more information and to register for this workshop.
Central Valley Drinking Water – Solutions to Groundwater Contamination Workshop
August 20, Clovis
August 21, Bakersfield
- Overall condition of drinking water quality in Central Valley communities
- Health and economic impacts of inadequate drinking water
- SGMA requirements related to the availability of safe drinking water
- Jurisdictional authority/responsibility for ensuring the availability of safe drinking water
- The natural or anthropogenic origins of chemicals and compounds of concern
- How correct well drilling, construction and monitoring can have a positive impact on water quality
- Water quality testing capabilities and the interpretation of test results
- Water quality treatment technologies, how they work and what they cost
- Legal remedies for recovering treatment costs by communities, utilities and water agencies
- How to find funding for capital investment in water infrastructure improvements
- Case studies of contamination reduction/ removal
Limited number of free registrations available.
DWR to host GSP submittal workshops
August 20, 21, 22
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) GSP Reporting System workshop will assist those submitting groundwater sustainability plans(GSPs). The workshop is free, but space is limited so reservations are encouraged and are on a first-come basis.
During the workshop, DWR staff will present information on the updated SGMA Portal, provide step-by-step instructions for GSP submittal, demonstrate the new tool, and answer questions.
Register for the workshops:
Incentivizing Groundwater Recharge: A Berkeley Law Symposium
September 10, Berkeley
Groundwater aquifers continue to be depleted as pumping exceeds recharge in many regions of the world, adversely affecting human and environmental systems. Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is one crucial strategy to bringing these groundwater resources into sustainable balance. However, understanding is sorely lacking about how to effectively incentivize MAR, and how to navigate the institutions relevant to MAR.
This symposium will seek to fill these knowledge gaps, addressing key questions including: Who benefits from groundwater recharge? What conditions are necessary for a recharge project to succeed? How can implementation be incentivized? How should recharge projects be governed? What emerging and novel techniques hold promise for future MAR?
The symposium aims to move the conversation on MAR forward. To this end, presenters will highlight successful and novel recharge projects from across the U.S.. Experts will also speak to scientific, legal, and management issues in recharge, and how they influence potential incentive schemes. These insights will help inform practitioners and scholars about recharge and chart a path towards developing a broadly applicable framework for enabling recharge.
“When California adopted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014, it became the last Western state to regulate its groundwater. If local groundwater agencies fail to submit plans to the state by 2020, the law says state water agencies could take over management of groundwater, a resource that’s critically important to Valley agriculture.
Moderator Kathleen Schock got an update on how the work is progressing locally from Gary Serrato, executive director of the North Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency, Christina Beckstead, executive director of Madera County Farm Bureau, and David Orth with New Current Water and Land.”
Listen to radio show from KVPR here: Radio show: An Update On How The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Is Working
Susan Tatayon, Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, writes:
“California has a vast water supply not just in its lakes, rivers, and estuaries, but also underground. For years, California’s cities and farms have depended on this unseen resource, especially in the southern part of the state where rainfall is low, surface water is scarce, and demand is high. In fact, underground aquifers provide about 40 percent of California’s water supply in a normal year and significantly more in dry years.
Groundwater is also something that, until recently, was largely absent from the state’s water management oversight; this changed in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For the first time in its history, California established minimum standards for sustainable groundwater management.
If local resource managers fail to meet these standards, this legislation authorizes the state to intervene to protect groundwater basins. SGMA is an earth-shaking move toward managing California’s groundwater and surface water as an interconnected system. … ”
Read more from the Delta Stewardship Council’s blog here: What Does Groundwater Have to Do with the Delta? A Lot