From the archives of Maven’s Notebook:
Original publish date: April 28, 2014
On March 24, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the California Environmental Protection Agency held a workshop to gather ideas, proposals and feedback on sustainable groundwater management actions.
Groundwater is of critical important to the state, began Martha Guzman, Deputy Legislative Secretary for Governor Brown. “Unfortunately, there are many areas that have a situation where the groundwater is overtaxed and current practices are not sustainable,” she said. “We recognize both in the Governor’s Water Action Plan and particularly in the governor’s budget is that one size does not fit all – an approach in that manner will not work for the entire state. We obviously have a state with many geographical differences and many cultural differences that we want to account for in a regional approach.”
Even though the drought has raised a broader awareness of the importance of groundwater, the issue was put forward by the Governor even prior to the drought, given its great potential to make the state more drought and climate resistant, she added.
Some of the main objectives for groundwater detailed in the California Water Action Plan include collecting and sharing additional groundwater data, updating California’s groundwater plan Bulletin 118, increasing groundwater recharge and storage, accelerating groundwater cleanup, and empowering local agencies to manage groundwater sustainably, she said. “Some areas do a fabulous job using a range of tools from full on court adjudication to strong county, water district, or other local agency management; Others have had a harder time for a range of institutional, financial and political reasons,” she said. “The difficulty in that is very complex and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.”
The plan is two part, she said. “The focus for the first part of this plan is to provide local and regional agencies with information, tools, access to funding, and authorities to sustainably manage groundwater. And secondly, when local agencies do not, the state should protect the most challenged basins until an effective local program can be established, commonly described as the state backstop,” she said. “While these are important actions, they are by no means THE solution; rather these are near term actions that can begin to alleviate some of the current problems and to put us on a path of more sustainable future. More importantly, they have opened a multi-stakeholder conversation whose time has come.”
On the first panel, Tom Gohring, Executive Director of the Sacramento Water Forum; Grant Davis, General Manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency; John Rossi, General Manager of Western Municipal Water District; and Dan Wendell, Associate Director of Groundwater for the Nature Conservancy discuss what is sustainable groundwater management and how it is measured.
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