SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- State water agencies, the California Water Data Consortium (Consortium) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced a new partnership today to make an open-source groundwater accounting platform freely available to help groundwater sustainability agencies manage the transition to sustainable supplies.
DWR and the Water Board are working with EDF and the Consortium to ensure that the platform is compatible with the online electronic portals that local agencies use to submit data to the state, such as DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Portal and the Water Board’s Groundwater Extraction Annual Reporting System (GEARS).
The partners are working to expand the platform’s features to provide a cost-effective option for local agencies. State agencies do not require use of the accounting platform. Local agencies will continue to have the option to develop and use other accounting and trading platforms.
Under the historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014, more than 250 local agencies have been formed to bring groundwater basins into sustainable conditions over the next two decades. The law was enacted in the midst of severe drought in which overpumping groundwater caused hundreds of drinking water wells to go dry and land to sink, damaging canals, roads, and bridges.
Since the last drought, the state has made significant investments to support local groundwater sustainability agencies as they work to bring basins into sustainable conditions through a variety of approaches, including finding additional supplies to recharge basins; reducing water use through efficiency measures, changing cropping patterns, or strategic fallowing of farmland; and efficient and equitable groundwater trading.
State agencies, the Consortium, and EDF intend to engage stakeholders as they expand the open-source platform to meet local needs and define and encourage adoption of data standards consistent with the Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755).
To enable local agencies and the broader community to share ideas on how platform features and design can best accommodate local needs, a public workshop on the open-source accounting platform will be held on June 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Other state efforts complement this work. DWR has created a Water Budget Handbook, a reference guide to help water managers create water budgets that account for historical conditions and how future changes to supply, demand, hydrology, population, land use, and climatic conditions may affect an area. Such budgets are useful for planning and evaluating potential management actions. Use of DWR’s handbook could help ensure consistency in the data that populate an online accounting platform. The Water Board’s GEARS platform, which will only be used if state intervention is triggered, can also inform the need for sound accounting principles as a key groundwater management component; carrying these principles to an open-access, third-party system will help GSAs reduce costs, communicate with groundwater users and other stakeholders, and will ultimately help implement SGMA successfully. Joaquin E. Esquivel, Chair of the Water Board, is a member of the California Water Data Consortium steering committee.
The state also is weighing how to ensure that any groundwater trading that develops in response to SGMA protects disadvantaged communities, ecosystems, and other water users. Well-designed water trading programs are one of many tools that local agencies are considering for managing groundwater sustainably, and an accounting system is the first step for such programs.
The California Water Commission is expected to begin public workshops on water trading this summer and distill conclusions from the public discussions by the end of the year.
Carolina Roberts, Communications Manager, California Department of Water Resources, email@example.com, 347-961-9729
Tara Moran, President and CEO, California Water Data Consortium, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronna Kelly, Environmental Defense Fund, email@example.com, 510-834-2563