Climate Change and Groundwater: Incorporating Climate Realities and Uncertainties into California’s Groundwater Planning
From the Union of Concerned Scientists and Stanford’s Water in the West:
Climate change is fundamentally transforming the way we manage water in the Western U.S. The recent Fourth California Climate Change Assessment lays out the many pressures facing water managers in California in detail. One key take-away of that Assessment is that past climate conditions will not be a good proxy for the state’s water future, and smarter strategies are needed to manage California’s water. Just one-third of the snowpack that the state has historically relied on as a natural water reservoir is projected to remain by 2100; hotter temperatures will dry out soils faster and earlier in the year; and the atmospheric rivers that already cause intense flooding in the state will likely carry more moisture as the atmosphere warms. All of this will require a transformation in the way that we, here in California and elsewhere, plan for our water future.
Continue reading at the Union of Concerned Scientists here: Climate Change and Groundwater: Incorporating Climate Realities and Uncertainties into California’s Groundwater Planning
From the Ridgecrest News Review:
The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has continually discussed its need for additional well data needed to draft an adequate Groundwater Sustain-ability Plan for IWV pumpers. Recently, the Authority heard a brief presentation from Lee Knudtson of Wellntell, who offered an opportunity to upgrade the Authority’s well-monitoring capabilities.
“We’ve invented a tool for monitoring water levels and pumping activity from domestic wells and small ag wells,” said Knudtson. “Several federal and state agencies have adopted our technologies because they’re easy to use and less expensive.”
To continue reading at the Ridgecrest News & Review, click here: Well monitoring tech offered to Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority
The Freshwater Trust, IBM Research and SweetSense Inc. aim to make groundwater usage sustainable
From the Freshwater Trust:
The Freshwater Trust (TFT), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems, is partnering with IBM Research and SweetSense Inc. , a provider of low-cost satellite connected sensors, to pilot technologies which can accurately monitor and track groundwater use in one of the largest and most at risk aquifers in North America. Additional research support will be provided by the University of Colorado Boulder.
Jointly funded by the Water Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the project’s scientists and engineers will demonstrate how the blockchain and remote Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can accurately measure groundwater usage transparently, and in real-time.
The sensors will transmit water extraction data to orbiting satellites and then to the IBM Blockchain Platform hosted in the IBM Cloud. The blockchain will record of all data exchanges or transactions made in an append-only, immutable ledger. The blockchain also uses “smart contracts,” whereby transactions are automatically executed when the conditions are matched.
From the Department of Water Resources:
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced final decisions for groundwater basin boundary modifications requested by local agencies as part of the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Draft results were released in November 2018 and finalized after a public comment period, a public meeting, and a public presentation to the California Water Commission. The final basin boundaries incorporate comments received during this period and resulted in the revision of three of the original draft decisions.
“SGMA is a central feature of the sustainable water future of California and the department is working with locals to successfully implement this landmark legislation,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “These final decisions on basin boundaries move local water agencies forward as they work to bring their basins into balance.”
Under SGMA, basin boundaries define the geographical area included in each groundwater basin. Once basin boundaries are finalized, the basins are then prioritized to determine which will be required to develop groundwater sustainability plans.
Of the 517 groundwater basins and subbasins in California, local agencies submitted 43 requests for basin modifications for either scientific or jurisdictional reasons. Scientific modifications are based on geologic or hydrologic conditions, while jurisdictional modifications change boundaries to promote sustainable groundwater management.
DWR staff reviewed all information provided with the requests and approved modifications that met the requirements of the Basin Boundary Regulations. In the draft decision, DWR approved 33, denied seven, and partially approved three modification requests. In the final decision, 35 requests were approved, four were denied, and four were partially approved. Partially approved means some portions of the modification requests were adequately supported by the information provided and were approved, while other portions were not and were denied.
From SF Gate:
“The tiny town of Arbuckle in Northern California sank more than two feet in nine years. The revelation comes from a new survey that tracked subsidence — the gradual sinking of land — in the Sacramento Valley between 2008-17. The report was released last week by the California Department of Water, in coordination with 19 local and state agencies. … ”
Read more from SF Gate here: Tiny Northern California town is sinking, new report finds
From the Fresno State Collegian:
“Agricultural and environmental leaders spoke at the Water Market Exchange Symposium in the Satellite Student Union on Jan. 24 to share their perspectives on a water market exchange program. The symposium featured speakers from water agencies, environmental interests, disadvantaged community interests and water market administrators.
According to Fresno State California Water Institute program manager Laura Ramos, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) would result in reductions of the supply of groundwater, creating the need for a creative and innovative solution to efficiently manage it. … ”
Read more from the Collegian here: Valley agriculture and environmental experts discuss potential water exchange program
Christina Babbit writes,
“By this time next year, 21 critically over-drafted groundwater basins in California must submit plans to the state’s Department of Water Resources for how to bring their basins back into balance.
With this major deadline looming, it’s crunch time for water managers and their consultants – some of whom will begin releasing draft plans in the next six to eight months seeking required public comments.
The Jan. 31, 2020, deadline was set by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which the California Legislature approved in 2014. … “
Read more from the Growing Returns blog here: The clock is ticking for groundwater managers in California’s most over-drafted basins
Data shows most of the valley has experienced little to no subsidence over the past nine years, with some exceptions
From the Department of Water Resources:
New data released today measure changes in land subsidence in the Sacramento Valley over the past nine years, finding the greatest land surface declines near the city of Arbuckle in Colusa County. According to the Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Network Report and accompanying fact sheet, most of the valley has experienced little to no subsidence, however, land in the Arbuckle area has sunk 2.14 feet compared with baseline measurements recorded in the same location in 2008. The report was led by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), in coordination with 19 state and local agencies.
“We’ve long known that excessive groundwater pumping causes subsidence, which is one of the many reasons we’ve pushed for sustainable groundwater management and pursued innovative tools to better manage and report subsidence throughout the state,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Data provided by studies like this inform water managers and owners of large infrastructure so they can plan for and prevent against subsidence.”
Land subsidence can damage critical infrastructure, including water delivery systems, levees, roads, and bridges. In 2017, DWR worked with NASA to release a report on San Joaquin Valley subsidence citing areas along the California Aqueduct that have experienced almost two feet of subsidence over three years.
The Sacramento Valley survey results were collected as groundwater levels were recovering from the severe drought of 2012-16, which saw groundwater levels in much of the state reach historic lows. Compared with 2011 pre-drought groundwater levels, the largest decreases were observed in Glenn and Colusa counties at 58 to 43 feet, respectively. Field work indicates that groundwater levels have recovered an average of seven feet, but more frequent and more comprehensive monitoring is needed to more accurately detail the impacts of droughts and high-water years on groundwater levels and subsidence.
The Sacramento Valley GPS Subsidence Monitoring Network, launched by DWR in 2008, surveyed 300 measurement locations in 11 counties from Shasta County in the north to Solano and Sacramento counties in the south. The 2017 resurvey effort was led by DWR’s Division of Integrated Regional Water Management (DIRWM) Northern Region Office (NRO), with the assistance of 19 state, county, and local entities.
“The data provided in this report are an example of the technical assistance we provide and the collaborative effort needed to facilitate successful and sustainable groundwater plans at the local level,” said Taryn Ravazzini, DWR Deputy Director of Special Initiatives.
DWR offers several tools that assist groundwater agencies and the public assess aquifer conditions and plan for sustainable management, including:
- Land Use Viewer: Allows local agencies and the public to access land use survey datasets for the past 30 years.
- Well Completion Report Viewer: Provides information about wells collected during the drilling and construction of water wells.
- SGMA Data Viewer: Compiles many groundwater related datasets that can be used to look at groundwater levels and subsidence.
The Sacramento Valley subsidence report also concludes that areas of Yolo County experienced the most widespread subsidence, in terms of geographic area affected by subsidence, with 31 survey sites measuring a land surface decline between .3 and 1.1 feet. Other statistically significant levels of subsidence were observed at three survey sites in Glenn County (between .44 and .59 feet of subsidence) and five survey sites in Sutter County (between .20 and .36 feet of subsidence).
From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
“Water well owners in Sonoma County may get billed for their annual water usage under a proposed water-conservation plan up for discussion next week at a community meeting in Santa Rosa.
The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is hosting the Jan. 30 meeting to hear feedback on its proposed “groundwater sustainability fee,” which would provide funding to support the new agency. … “
Read more from Sonoma West here: Well owners looking at fees for their water usage
From Voices of Monterey Bay:
“Residents of the Salinas Valley will soon see their utility or water bills go up – but only a little. The new fee, which is likely to be passed by July 1, will add about $2.27 for non-agricultural residents, and $4.81 per irrigated acre for agricultural users. The fee is needed to fund the valley’s newest water agency — the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency.
If the new fee schedule passes, residents in areas managed by the new GSA can expect to likely see the fee included in their property tax bill or their water utility bill by the end of the year. … ”
Read more from Voices of Monterey Bay here: Salinas Valley: A little fee to manage a lot of water