August 28, 2017
In what the state is billing as “a major step toward sustainable groundwater management in California,” more than 99 percent of the state’s groundwater basins have met a key deadline in reporting groundwater pumping.
According to the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014, key stakeholders of the state’s 127 high- and medium-priority groundwater basins were required to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to manage groundwater pumping. The deadline for formation of the GSAs was June 30, and as of this week, more than 99 percent had been formed.
“This is a signal accomplishment that required the leadership of myriad Californians who care about the future of their communities,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, in a statement. “The successful formation of so many GSAs doesn’t by any means mean that this was easy. It was really hard — and it’s a great down payment on the hard work to come as GSAs move into developing their management plans.”
A map released by the state of unmanaged areas shows a grouping of perhaps a dozen unmanaged areas along the San Joaquin River on the border of Fresno and Madera counties. These are labeled as areas where the State Water Board does not plan to take action at this time to require the filing of pumping reports.
The next step for SGMA compliance is to create and implement groundwater sustainability plans that describe the plan for bringing “basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge.” Basins identified as critically overdrafted are required to have sustainability plans in place by Jan. 21, 2020, while all other high- and medium-priority basins have until Jan. 31, 2022, to adopt plans.
The plans will be reviewed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and will be continuously updated to ensure sustainable management of the state’s groundwater by the year 2042.
DWR plans to offer important information, technical and non-technical assistance, best practices and grand funding opportunities to help the GSAs. A series of workshops is planned around the state, with the first being held in the Fresno area on Sept. 20.