The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced decisions for groundwater sustainability plans in 17 non-critically overdrafted groundwater basins in California. These determinations mark ongoing progress in reaching long-term sustainability for the state’s groundwater basins, a critical water supply for millions of Californians. These groundwater plans are addressing current issues and long-term solutions towards water resiliency for communities, households, industries, and the environment that are all dependent on groundwater.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) directs DWR to evaluate groundwater sustainability plans to determine if the plans are based on the best available science and information and will reasonably achieve the sustainability goal for each groundwater basin. Criteria for plan evaluation is specified in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations. Each of the 17 basins announced today submitted a single basin plan.
DWR approved plans for the following basins:
- Eel River Valley
- Elsinore Valley
- Ojai Valley
- San Gorgonio Pass
- San Pasqual Valley
- Santa Monica
- White Wolf
DWR has deemed the following basin plans incomplete:
- Big Valley (5-004)
- Los Molinos
- Red Bluff
“DWR is committed to supporting these local agencies as we work towards the common goal of protecting California’s groundwater infrastructure, which is critical to a resilient water supply that can withstand the weather extremes of drought and flood.” said Paul Gosselin, DWR Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management.
Common deficiencies that are identified in the basins deemed incomplete include lack of a clear plan to eliminate overdraft, manage groundwater levels, and manage land subsidence. The incomplete basins, primarily located north of Sacramento, historically have not experienced land subsidence, but over the last decade there has been a notable increase in rates of subsidence and dry wells in this region. Failure to establish sustainable management criteria for groundwater levels and land subsidence as required by the GSP Regulations could result in significant impacts to beneficial uses and users of groundwater, particularly affecting domestic well users and critical infrastructure.
Under the GSP regulations, once DWR determines a basin incomplete, the GSAs have 180 days to correct the deficiencies and revise and resubmit their plans. Upon evaluation of resubmitted plans, DWR will either make the determination that the basin is approved, or inadequate. An inadequate determination will initiate consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board for possible State intervention.
Regardless of today’s determinations, all GSAs are expected to continue making progress towards their sustainability goal, including ongoing outreach to the beneficial uses and users in the subbasin and carrying out projects and management actions, filling data gaps, collecting monitoring network data, and providing timely information and updates to DWR through annual report submittals on April 1.
DWR will continue providing planning, technical, and financial assistance and an extensive suite of data and tools to all GSAs, supporting local agencies and communities in this long-term effort to sustainably manage their groundwater basins. Additionally, DWR has provided more than $350 million in Sustainable Groundwater Management grant funding to help GSAs with SGMA planning and implementation.
Out of a total of 94 groundwater basins required to submit plans under SGMA, DWR has provided determinations for 72 basins and is currently reviewing an additional 19 plans from 17 of the state’s high- and medium- priority basins that were submitted to DWR in January 2022. DWR anticipates issuing determinations for the remaining basins by January 2024.
For more information:
- DWR’s SGMA Portal is the central repository for GSA and plan information and updates
- DWR information on SGMA: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) (ca.gov)
- DWR Fact Sheet on SGMA GSP Evaluation
Mary Fahey, Public Affairs, Department of Water Resources
916-820-8083 | email@example.com