The state of California has passed the first hurdle in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). As of June 30th, local groundwater agencies (GSAs) were formed for basins classified by the state as at risk for groundwater depletion. The SGMA is expected to radically overhaul the way Californians have utilized groundwater.
Unlike with surface water supplies, which are strictly regulated through a complex system of water rights, groundwater basins have historically been regulation free. This inefficient management of resources has led to drastic depletion of groundwater throughout the state, such as the San Joaquin Valley, where land has subsided by more than 20 feet due to immense water withdrawals.
“Up to this point, everything has been focused on local governance,” said Jack Rice, an associate counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation in an interview with The Reporter. “Now, the GSA’s will be doing the water management piece. You have to figure out how much water your groundwater basin has, how much groundwater is part of your sustainable yield and what you are going to do to get there.”
Under the SGMA, the GSAs will now develop local groundwater sustainability plans prescribing conservation methods and measurable objectives that address groundwater overdraft. Plans being developed for the 21 basins identified as “critically overdarafted” must be in place by 2020; all others must be in effect by 2022.
1 Bland, Alastair. California Faces Its First Big Deadline for Groundwater Law, June 29, 2017. Web. https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/06/29/california-faces-its-first-big-deadline-for-groundwater-law
2 Bland. California Faces Its First Big Deadline for Groundwater Law. https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/06/29/california-faces-its-first-big-deadline-for-groundwater-law
3 Bland. California Faces Its First Big Deadline for Groundwater Law. https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/articles/2017/06/29/california-faces-its-first-big-deadline-for-groundwater-law