The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has made preliminary identification of 21 groundwater basins and subbasins that have been significantly overdrafted by excessive pumping and thus fall under the earliest deadlines required by groundwater management laws enacted last fall.
Overdraft impacts include seawater intrusion and land subsidence, in addition to lowered groundwater levels. DWR presented its draft findings at a California Water Commission meeting in Los Angeles today, the same day the department released a new NASA report showing land in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking faster than ever previously recorded due to groundwater pumping.
This is not the first time DWR has identified critically overdrafted basins. Working with local agencies, DWR identified such basins in 1980 and 2003, as described in Bulletin 118 reports issued those years. Bulletin 118 is a comprehensive report on California groundwater resources that is periodically updated by DWR
Under a package of historic groundwater management laws enacted by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in September 2014, the basins identified by DWR as significantly overdrafted must have groundwater sustainability plans in place less than five years from now. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires all Bulletin 118 basins designated as high- or medium-priority and subject to critical conditions of overdraft to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan or coordinated groundwater sustainability plans by January 31, 2020, two years earlier than the other high- and medium- priority basins.
Local agencies not in agreement with DWR’s identification of critically overdrafted groundwater basins will have an opportunity next week to ask questions and make comments at a public meeting in Fresno.
DWR will hold a public meeting to share its draft results, explain the process that guides its findings, and solicit public comment on Tuesday, August 25 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Auditorium, 808 4th St, in Clovis, CA 93612 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The public meeting on Tuesday will begin a 30-day public comment period. DWR will evaluate comments and data submitted and make any needed revisions.
A final list of critically overdrafted basins will be released on the DWR website in October. The results will be published in the next update of Bulletin 118, expected in late 2016. The draft list and additional information are available on the California Water Commission (CWC) website at https://cwc.ca.gov/Pages/2015/08_August/08192015Agenda.aspx.
This is the fourth year of California’s drought. To learn about the actions the state has taken to manage our water systems and cope with the drought’s impacts, visit Drought.CA.Gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at SaveOurWater.com.
Get the Notebook blog by email and you’ll always be one of the first to know!
Sign up for daily emails and get all the Notebook’s aggregated and original water news content delivered to your email box by 9AM. Breaking news alerts like this one, too. Sign me up!