The Nature Conservancy’s Sarah Heard goes through the mechanics of the market, the first to be formed since the passage of SGMA
A water market is much like a stock market for water, but instead of trading stocks and bonds, sellers in water markets offer short- or long-term transfers of water. Water trading can be an effective tool for water managers to provide flexibility in the allocation and use of water by moving water to where it is needed most, especially during times of drought. Water transfers can also help accommodate shifts in water demand over the long-term. However, water markets must be carefully designed so they function effectively while avoiding adverse impacts to other water users or unreasonable impacts on the environment.
Sarah Heard is Director of Conservation Economics & Finance with the California chapter of The Nature Conservancy where she does market-based work on strategies to support the biodiversity of the lands, waters, and oceans by incorporating economic and financial tools. At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Heard gave this presentation on the Fox Canyon Groundwater Market, the first groundwater market since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
CA WATER COMMISSION: An update on implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (or SGMA)
DWR’s Taryn Ravazzini updates the Commission on the Department’s activities, including major milestones, 2019 activities, and the Department’s technical and financial assistance
In September of 2014, Governor Brown signed a package of legislation known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) which created a framework for local agencies to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) tailored to their regional needs.
To date, SGMA implementation has included local agencies forming groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs), two rounds of basin boundary modifications and basin prioritizations, and alternative plan reviews. Next, SGMA requires GSAs to prepare GSPs which will result in sustainable management of groundwater basins within 20 years. For basins designated as critically overdrafted, the plans are due by January 31, 2020; other high and medium priority basin plans are due on January 31, 2022.
At the November meeting of the California Water Commission, Taryn Ravazzini, DWR Deputy Director for Statewide Groundwater Management, updated the Commission on DWR’s recent activities and milestones related to SGMA.
Ellen Bruno, University of California Berkeley; Andrew Ayres, Public Policy Institute of California; and Emmanuel Asinas, California Department of Water Resources.
Groundwater is a critical source of freshwater. As of 2015, groundwater contributed almost 40% of the public water supply in the U.S.1 Many groundwater basins, however, have suffered from declining groundwater stocks due to sustained over pumping, leading to higher pumping costs, land subsidence, and other negative consequences.
California’s Central Valley overlays one such declining aquifer system. Amid an extreme drought, the state passed a law in 2014, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The legislation requires local public agencies to address groundwater overdraft and its negative consequences by 2040.
As shown in Figure 1, SGMA applies to over 100 basins that, in total, account for over 90% of the state’s groundwater pumping.2 To meet their goals, groundwater agencies may either require or incentivize users to pump less (demand-side approach), find additional water to recharge the groundwater (supply-side approach), or undertake some combination of both.
This article discusses one supply-side approach: using flood water for managed aquifer recharge (flood-MAR). First, we discuss the availability of flood water for managed aquifer recharge in California. Then, we showcase how an auction mechanism for this scarce resource could promote its efficient and equitable allocation.
While California’s recent drought is officially over, more intense rainfall means more rain is running off, rather than soaking into the ground. But what if some of this water could be collected to help recharge thirsty aquifers and mitigate the effects of overdraft?
At Driscoll’s, we’ve long advocated for responsible and collaborative solutions to groundwater management, and seek to grow in harmony with our communities. Water is a shared resource, and we all must work together at the local level to ensure it’s being managed well to keep our communities, businesses and ecosystems healthy for generations.
That’s why, over the past few years, we’ve been working with UC Santa Cruz, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, and an independent grower on the Bokariza-Drobac stormwater infiltration system — an innovative groundwater-recharge project in the Pajaro Valley.
Pilot programs in two regions of the San Joaquin Valley will serve as templates for other areas developing plans to prevent fertilizer and irrigation runoff from entering groundwater supplies. The programs will also create plans to provide clean drinking water to disadvantaged communities.
The Turlock and Kings River groundwater subbasins are among six in the Central Valley designated as high priority due to nitrate levels that exceed 10 milligrams per liter. Affected stakeholders in the two subbasins are using grant funds from the State Water Resources Control Board for pilot programs to develop plans for compliance.
Wayne Zipser, a director of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition, which works with irrigators in Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties, described the Turlock Subbasin Management Zone Pilot Program as “a proactive approach before this regulation even happens.”
State tells Napa County to form agency to monitor Napa Valley groundwater: “California has told Napa County to form a local groundwater agency to ensure the underground reservoir that nurtures world-famous wine country is being kept in good shape. The county submitted more than 1,000 pages of documents to try to avoid that outcome. It argued that the groundwater basin is already being managed sustainably and is nowhere near to being sucked dry. But the state Department of Water Resources earlier this month reaffirmed a tentative verdict announced in July by rejecting a county appeal. … ” Read more from the Napa Valley Register here: State tells Napa County to form agency to monitor Napa Valley groundwater
Zone 7 applies for $500,000 grant from state: “In order to better plan for safeguarding and preserving the Livermore-Amador Valley water supply, Zone 7 Water Agency is turning to the state and applying for a $500,000 grant that would help achieve their goals. Zone 7 is the sole Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for the Livermore Valley Groundwater Basin, which it has overseen for more than 45 years. … ” Read more from the Livermore Independent here: Zone 7 applies for $500,000 grant from state
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY
Water in the bank: Coalition of agencies develops ‘historic’ sustainable groundwater plan: “There’s progress to report in the momentous task of ensuring that San Joaquin County and surrounding communities have enough water to meet anticipated needs for the next 20 years. Earlier this month, the Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Authority — or ESJGWA, comprised of 16 area agencies including cities, counties and water districts — recommended that each of its member agencies adopt a mutually agreed upon Groundwater Sustainability Plan by Jan. 8. … ” Read more from the Stockton Record here: Water in the bank: Coalition of agencies develops ‘historic’ sustainable groundwater plan
Greater Kaweah GSA to partner on easing climate change impacts: “As California’s groundwater aquifers continue to deplete at what experts consider to be an alarming rate, the state passed a comprehensive groundwater management law in 2014 that is changing how this precious resource is used for the next 20 years and beyond. Under the law, the state established groundwater sustainability agencies, which are tasked with drafting extensive plans on managing groundwater for their designated water basins. The Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which is one of three for the Kaweah subbasin, covers most of the subbasin throughout Tulare and Kings counties. … ” Read more from the Foothills Sun-Gazette here: Greater Kaweah GSA to partner on easing climate change impacts
Locals gear up for fight to keep Kings River water away from Kern district: “Just as they did more than two generations ago, Kern County farmers are looking to another Central Valley river to the north to refill their groundwater shortfall. But this time around, natives in the Kings River watershed are “sharpening their knives” to fight off what they say is a desperate water grab. The sprawling Semitropic Water Storage District, in the northwest corner of Kern County, has filed an application with the State Water Resources Control Board claiming the Kings River Water Association has forfeited two of its floodwater licenses by not using that water. ... ” Read more from the Fresno Bee here: Locals gear up for fight to keep Kings River water away from Kern district
Video: Kern County In Depth: Ground water regulations: “The state legislature in 2014 passed the groundwater sustainability management act, a sweeping and unprecedented attempt to halt the widespread depletion of groundwater basins up and down the state. The implementation of SGMA, as it’s called, will make California the last state in the western U.S. to regulate access to and use of our groundwater supplies. Since 2014, newly formed groundwater sustainability agencies, or GSA’s have been hammering out the details of how they will comply with this state law…an extremely complicated and contentious endeavour. … ” Read more from KGET here: Video: Kern County In Depth: Ground water regulations
Water in Tehachapi: A precious commodity in the past and in our future: “Historically, water is often valued more than gold, runs short of supply, and is even more needed now than in Tehachapi’s past. Let’s take a look at the water situation in the greater Tehachapi area from the days of old to the present. … ” Read more from the Tehachapi News here: Water in Tehachapi: A precious commodity in the past and in our future
Finished Paso basin sustainability plan awaits final approval: “Sidestepping continued grumbles from the agricultural industry, the Paso Robles Basin Cooperative Committee recommended final approval of a finished groundwater sustainability plan on Nov. 20, a move that precipitates its submission to the California Department of Water Resources. The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance. … ” Read more from New Times SLO here: Finished Paso basin sustainability plan awaits final approval
OWENS VALLEY/EASTERN SIERRA
Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley: “About 250 miles north of Los Angeles, there is a long valley known to the Big Pine and Bishop Northern Paiute people of the Owens Valley — the Nüümü (Paiute) and Newe (Shoshone) — as Payahüünadü, “The Land of Flowing Water.” For at least 15,000 years, these Northern Paiute tribes have tended their homeland, more recently also known as the Owens Valley. The beloved region of green, well-tended gardens and wetlands, nestled between mountain ranges to the east and west, along California’s eastern edge, was nurtured by extensive and sophisticated irrigation ditches the Northern Paiute built and maintained to channel water from the seasonal, and wildly fluctuating snowmelt flowing down from the nearby Sierra Mountain Range. … ” Read more from KCET here: Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley
Lawsuit aims to save desert ag: Draft groundwater sustainability plan would end large-scale agriculture in Indian Wells Valley: “Water managers trying to bring groundwater into balance in the severely overdrafted Indian Wells Valley basin near Ridgecrest laid out a draft plan last month that would essentially mean the end of large-scale agriculture in that desert region. “We are giving options to (ag) pumpers so they understand they have a limited future here and can make the best decisions for their businesses,” said Kern County Supervisor Mick Gleason, who represents the area and sits on the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board. … ” Read more from the Bakersfield Californian here: Lawsuit aims to save desert ag: Draft groundwater sustainability plan would end large-scale agriculture in Indian Wells Valley
Ridgecrest: Spelling out post-GSP water fee types: “With the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority moving at increasing speed to wrap up the development of a groundwater sustainability plan by Jan. 31, the question posed is: how will one pay for administration costs and projects the plan proposes. Ridgecrest City Attorney Keith Lemieux, who is part of the IWVGA’s legal team, provided an overview on mechanisms that would ensure revenue streams over in the coming decades. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Ridgecrest: Spelling out post-GSP water fee types
Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Water District board discusses GSP impact: “The Indian Wells Valley Water District board discussed its own place in the IWV Groundwater Authority and how its groundwater sustainability would impact them after its implementation. Board member Ron Kicinski noted that with the release of the entire draft GSP to the IWVGA’s advisory committees and to the public in general, questions will be coming. The water district is one of five voting member agencies on the IWVGA, with the others being Kern County, the City of Ridgecrest, Inyo and San Bernardino counties. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Water District board discusses GSP impact
Ridgecrest: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority report: positive 2020 budget requires increased pump fee: “Budget discussions will be the top item for the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority as it tackles its 2020 finances at its board meeting on Thursday. The open session starts at 11 a.m. in the Ridgecrest City Hall council chambers, 100 W. California Ave. According to a staff report, the budget IWVGA initially faced a negative balance of $515,718 by the end of 2020, in part due to underperforming pump fee revenues and the required projected expenses for running the groundwater authority. … ” Read more from the Ridgecrest Independent here: Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority report: positive 2020 budget requires increased pump fee
Santa Clarita: Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency: “It wasn’t easy for water officials tasked with hammering out a plan to manage the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater to find seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group, but on Monday, they approved a list of double the number they sought. Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency met Monday afternoon for special meeting, in part, to define which volunteers would serve as groundwater advisers. ... ” Read more from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal here: Santa Clarita: Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency
State Water Board streamlines permitting process for diversions of floodwater and other high flows to support groundwater sustainability
Press release from the State Water Resources Control Board:
In an effort to expedite its water right permitting process, the State Water Resources Control Board announced today it has streamlined requirements for applicants seeking to divert surface water to underground storage during floods and other high flow conditions.
The new measures are expected to directly benefit groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and associated local entities striving to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and replenish overdrafted groundwater basins.
The changes, which have no impact on existing laws and regulations, simplify the permitting pathway for capturing water during high flow events and storing that water underground, a process known as recharge. The streamlined approach also reduces application filing fees and annual permit and license costs.
“Achieving groundwater sustainability is one of California’s most pressing water management challenges,” said State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “With a more variable hydrology expected, it’s critical that we prepare to capture floodwaters and other high flows, increase groundwater recharge, and better prepare for the effects of climate change. These permitting revisions will help make that process more nimble and efficient, while still protecting fish and senior right holders.”
California depends on groundwater for a third of its annual water supply, and significantly more during droughts. Parties who divert to underground storage and choose this less complicated approach must meet certain criteria and comply with a water availability analysis that monitors diversion of high flows during the winter.
Within the December-to-March time frame, applicants can choose between two diversion triggers: (1) when a river or stream’s daily flows exceed the 90th percentile and no more than 20 percent of the total stream flow is taken; or (2) a flood control agency determines actions are needed to protect the public.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in 2015, empowers local agencies to manage groundwater resources for long-term sustainability. The long-term planning requirement provides a buffer against drought and climate change and contributes to reliable water supplies, regardless of weather patterns.
New groundwater recharge projects will likely be proposed and implemented by many GSAs as part of sustainable groundwater management. The new streamlined recharge permitting measures are designed to help GSAs obtain water right permits faster to help meet timelines for achieving sustainability.
GSAs also are encouraged to pursue “umbrella” permitting to cover dozens and possibly hundreds of diversion locations in a watershed and large areas of use, such as a water district. This makes broadscale recharge, particularly on agricultural lands, more feasible. It allows a water right holder to manage the diversion, storage and extraction of water on a landowner-by-landowner basis, from one high flow event to the next, or from year to year, without additional approvals from the Board. This enhances efficiency in permitting and annual reporting, gaging and measurement requirements, and accounting.
The State Water Board intends to hold an informational item on the streamlined permitting pathway as part of its regularly scheduled board meeting on November 19.
Information about recharge and underground storage can be found on the State Water Board website.
“With roughly two and a half months remaining before a state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires local groundwater sustainability agencies in critically overdrafted basins to submit their plans by next Jan. 31. The plans must describe how local agencies will achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040, and should include measurable objectives and milestones in five-year increments. … ”
Water management in California includes a diverse range of strategies that often requires a community of water experts to come together, collaborate, and solve issues ranging from infrastructure to operations.
Scientists, water managers, and other stakeholders had an opportunity to do just that during the 2019 Flood-MAR Public Forum held Oct. 28 to 29 in Sacramento. Hosted by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the event provided a venue to discuss the implementation of Flood-MAR projects throughout the state.
Provided by: RAS REALtime Aquifer Services and Dewey Data
Geophysical logs with electrical resistivity profiles are available in an area including the broader Central Valley. When a new well is drilled, logs are acquired to identify water bearing locations and geologic parameters. We have logs from approximately 30,000 wells which have been drilled over periods of drought and flood. Reviewing these logs can potentially help evaluate larger aquifer parameters. Some wells also have hydrophysical logs, which indicate the specific flow at different depths in a particular well. Logs can also indicate saltwater intrusion and other water quality.
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