Challenges and opportunities for integrating small and rural drinking water stakeholders in SGMA implementation
Kristin Dobbin, Jessica Mendoza and Michael Kuo write,
“The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is an historic opportunity to achieve long-term sustainable groundwater management and protect drinking water supplies for hundreds of small and rural low-income communities, especially in the San Joaquin Valley.
Past research indicates that few of these communities are represented in the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) formed to implement the new law. This raises questions about the extent such communities are involved in groundwater reform and potential concerns about how small and rural drinking-water interests are being incorporated into Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). … ”
Read more from the California Water Blog here: Challenges and opportunities for integrating small and rural drinking water stakeholders in SGMA implementation
“The San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest agricultural region—has the largest groundwater deficit in the state. However, water scarcity is not experienced equally across the valley.
Some areas receive abundant surface water to support cropland irrigation and drinking water supplies. Most others supplement their use with groundwater. Still others have no surface water access and depend entirely on groundwater.
Water users in these groundwater-only areas are particularly vulnerable to pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)—the state-mandated effort to balance groundwater basins. … ”
Read more from the PPIC blog here: Got Surface Water? Groundwater-only Lands in the San Joaquin Valley
“Agricultural water suppliers must develop annual water budgets and drought plans that meet requirements of recently enacted legislation, and are meeting with state officials to comply with the updated law—a process that could ultimately affect water costs for California farmers and ranchers.
California Farm Bureau Federation Director of Water Resources Danny Merkley said the process stems from 2009 law, and updates passed last year, which require the state Department of Water Resources to consult with agricultural stakeholders to quantify water-use efficiency. … ”
Read more from Ag Alert here: Agricultural water agencies refine efficiency plans
“An irrigation district may adopt and enforce reasonable rules related to water service, and may terminate water delivery for failure to comply with such rules, a California appellate court ruled. Although this case involved an irrigation district, the decision may also strengthen other water providers’ authority to adopt and enforce rules relating to water service.
In Inzana v. Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors, the issue was the District’s rule prohibiting planting “in, on, over, or across” any District easement or right of way in a manner that interferes with its maintenance or operation obligations. The District rules also say that the District can terminate water service to any landowner who fails or refuses to comply with any District rules or regulations. … ”
Read more from BB&K here: Irrigation District May Refuse Water Delivery to Rule Violators
“On Monday the Glenn Groundwater Authority passed an operation fee increase for water service, despite meeting some opposition. Anyone within the Glenn County portion of the Colusa subbasin except for Willows and Orland will have to pay the fee.
The board set the operation fee at $1.61 per acre, per year for the fiscal 2019-2020 year. … ”
Read more from Action News Now here: Glenn Groundwater Authority approves operation fee increase for water service
“A local water district is developing a novel, market-based groundwater trading program that, if successful, could be expanded or copied to help Central Valley farmers cope with new state restrictions against over-pumping the region’s aquifers.
The Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District’s pilot program, set for testing later this summer or early fall, would allow certain landowners to buy or sell groundwater to or from another property owner within the district. … ”
Read more from Bakersfield.com here: Market-based program would encourage farmers to buy, sell local groundwater
“The survival of a tiny, unique, desert neighborhood is threatened because more than 60 years ago the community decided to form a small water district instead of digging individual wells.
Borrego Air Ranch is built around a private air strip where residents’ garages double as airplane hangers. It’s located on the southeastern outskirts of unincorporated Borrego Springs, less than a mile from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
For many years, Borrego Springs has been living on borrowed time, drawing far more water from the ground than its rains replace, a practice the state says can no longer continue. … ”
Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune here: Borrego Air Ranch: A desert community in peril
CA WATER LAW SYMPOSIUM: Questions of common supply: SGMA requirements for interconnected surface water and groundwater
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014, is California’s first statewide law that explicitly reflects the fact that surface water and groundwater are frequently interconnected and that groundwater management can impact groundwater-dependent ecosystems, surface water flows, and the beneficial uses of those flows.
SGMA requires groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) to manage groundwater to avoid six undesirable results, one of which is significant and unreasonable adverse impacts on beneficial uses of surface water. While this aspect of SGMA is clearly important, significant uncertainties exist regarding how GSAs will actually define and achieve this goal. At the 2019 California Water Law Symposium, a panel of experts discussed the structure of SGMA and how it addresses these water connections, particularly in relation to fisheries and the public trust doctrine.
Seated on the panel:
- Rick Frank: Rick Frank is a professor of law at the UC Davis Law School. For many years, he was with the California Attorney General’s office and litigated a number of very important water and environmental cases.
- Andy Sawyer: Andy Sawyer is Assistant Chief Counsel at the State Water Resources Control Board. He manages the activities of the Office of Chief Counsel involving water rights and the drinking water program.
- Paul Kibel: Paul Kibel is a professor at Golden Gate University School of Law. where he teaches a broad array of environmental courses and directs GGU’s Center on Urban Environmental Law. He is also counsel with the Water and Power Law Group and on the advisory board of the San Francisco Baykeeper.
- Letty Belin: Letty Belin is an attorney who specializes in tribal water rights, water law, and other natural resource issues. Letty served as counsel to the Deputy Secretary of the Interior in Washington DC, most recently a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Water in the West program.
“With some local agencies just months away from a deadline to complete groundwater management plans, local and state officials acknowledge there have been a few speed bumps in distributing grant funding for planning and implementation. But observers say they expect the grant process overall to benefit groups working to comply with provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
“There’s the old adage that there’s no free money; you take the bad with the good and the bad is, these processes always take longer,” Northern California Water Association President David Guy said. … ”
Continue reading at Ag Alert here: State distributes grants to help implement SGMA
Exeter: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies still unsure over monitoring, nearing draft sustainability plan
“Measuring the water beneath our feet takes technology that looks out of this world, and pictures that actually are. As the deadline for sustainable groundwater plans draws near agencies in charge are looking to NASA, foreign governments and top universities to figure out how much groundwater we have and how much we can use.
California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in 2014, it has been a mad dash to identify what is sustaabinle. Five years later, Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency (Greater Kaweah) general manager, Eric Osterling says that things are getting clearer as their Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) comes into focus. … ”
Read more from the Foothills Sun Gazette here: Exeter: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies still unsure over monitoring, nearing draft sustainability plan