News Worth Noting: New Report: Transitioning to Sustainability:Modeling Groundwater Sustainability in the Kings-Tulare Lake Region; Interior Launches New, Interactive Web Tool to Show Effects of 16-Year Drought in the Colorado River Basin
New Report: Transitioning to Sustainability:Modeling Groundwater Sustainability in the Kings-Tulare Lake Region
From the report abstract:
“As California is going through the fourth year of drought, groundwater levels are rapidly declining in many areas, and especially in the basins within California’s Central Valley. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 requires local agencies in certain groundwater sub-basins where declines are critical to establish a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and work towards development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan, which would set a course towards sustainable management of groundwater in order to avoid significant and unreasonable adverse effects on the groundwater resources. A major question for much of the agricultural community in the Central Valley is the effects of reduction in groundwater use on the hydrologic, socio-economic, and environmental conditions in the area. This study uses hydrologic and economic models available for the Central Valley to assess these impacts.
The study region encompassed the Kings and Tulare Lake groundwater subbasins within Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties. Under existing land uses, groundwater extraction averages about 3 MAF per year, comprising 67 percent of total water use in a typical year. In dry years, groundwater may comprise as much as 80 percent of total water use in the region. Groundwater data compiled by regional water agencies and DWR indicate the study region has been in a state of overdraft over the past several decades, with average extraction exceeding average recharge by about 0.3 MAF annually.
The hydrologic modeling results show the Kings and Tulare Lake subbasins are not presently on a path of sustainable groundwater management. A reduction in groundwater pumping in the range of 15-20% from current amounts is needed to stabilize average groundwater elevation in the study region. Modeling results also highlight the complex, interdependent nature of groundwater usage, recharge, and flow between subbasins. For example, in order to stabilize groundwater elevations within the study region, it is necessary to assume that neighboring basins are being similarly managed. Otherwise, the gains from sustainable management in the study region would be ceded to the western bordering subbasins due to groundwater migration. This has important implications for the establishment and governance of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs). In terms of the economic costs of transitioning to sustainable groundwater management, the modeling indicates that farm-level production losses would be more or less offset by avoided costs of pumping and well investment, and the value of having additional groundwater reserves in dry years.”
Interior Launches New, Interactive Web Tool to Show Effects of 16-Year Drought in the Colorado River Basin
“On the heels of a White House Roundtable on Water Innovation, the U.S. Department of the Interior today launched a new, interactive website to show the dramatic effects of the 16-year drought in the Colorado River Basin. The specialized web tool, otherwise known as Drought in the Colorado River Basin – Insights Using Open Data, shows the interconnected results of a reduced water supply as reservoir levels have declined from nearly full to about 50 percent of capacity.
Launched as part of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to harness resources that help build drought resiliency, this web tool provides a visual depiction of the complexity of the nexus between water supply, water demand, and long-term drought in the Colorado River Basin by connecting data from a variety of sources affiliated with the Open Water Data Initiative, which is led by Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey.
“Innovation is absolutely critical to helping us deal with the severe threats to water supply posed by drought and climate change,” said Interior Deputy Secretary Michael L. Connor, who moderated a discussion on innovation and technology at yesterday’s Roundtable. “Projects like this one show the power of open data to help us better understand our resource challenges. By enabling us to see the complex challenges in the Colorado River Basin visually, use of this website will help us devise timely actions to build resilience to the drought, spurring innovation along the way.”
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.