This just in … DWR releases draft regulations for managing groundwater basins sustainably

From the Department of Water Resources:

NEW_DWR_LOGO_14inchThe Department of Water Resources  (DWR) today released draft regulations that will assist local public agencies and groundwater sustainability agencies  to manage and regulate California’s groundwater basins as outlined in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, enacted by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in September 2014. An overview of the draft regulations was presented to the California Water Commission at its meeting February 17, 2016.

From the outset, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was intended to recognize that groundwater is best managed on the local level and that each groundwater basin has unique characteristics and challenges. An inherently technical and complex task, managing groundwater requires regulations that can address the goal of sustainability across such a geologically and hydrologically diverse state as California.

Groundwater supplies over a third of the water Californians use, and the Act requires local agencies to draft plans to bring groundwater aquifers into balanced levels of pumping and recharge (Water Code §10733.2).  The historic law requires DWR to adopt regulations which outline a process for evaluating and implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans or alternatives to such plans, as well as coordination agreements between local agencies in high- and medium-priority groundwater basins by June 1, 2016. Technical and financial assistance will be available to help local agencies develop their plans.

According to Section 10727 (b) of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the three options for developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan include the following:

  • A single plan covering the entire basin developed and implemented by one groundwater sustainability agency.
  • A single plan covering the entire basin developed and implemented by multiple groundwater sustainability agencies.
  • Multiple plans implemented by multiple groundwater sustainability agencies and coordinated with a single coordination agreement that covers the entire basin. 

DWR developed the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations after conducting listening sessions and extensive outreach around the state to gather perspectives from Advisory Groups, statewide stakeholders, partners, and local agencies. The initial draft of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations is available for public review on DWR’s website, where the public also has the opportunity to submit written comments through March 25, 2016. DWR will host a statewide webinar and three public meetings in March to further solicit public input on the draft regulations. The final Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations will also take public comment into consideration.

An overview of the draft regulations was presented to the California Water Commission at its meeting February 17, 2016.

From the outset, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was intended to recognize that groundwater is best managed on the local level and that each groundwater basin has unique characteristics and challenges. An inherently technical and complex task, managing groundwater requires regulations that can address the goal of sustainability across such a geologically and hydrologically diverse state as California.

Groundwater supplies over a third of the water Californians use, and the Act requires local agencies to draft plans to bring groundwater aquifers into balanced levels of pumping and recharge (Water Code §10733.2). The historic law requires DWR to adopt regulations which outline a process for evaluating and implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans or alternatives to such plans, as well as coordination agreements between local agencies in high- and medium-priority groundwater basins by June 1, 2016. Technical and financial assistance will be available to help local agencies develop their plans.

According to Section 10727 (b) of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the three options for developing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan include the following:
• A single plan covering the entire basin developed and implemented by one groundwater sustainability agency.
• A single plan covering the entire basin developed and implemented by multiple groundwater sustainability agencies.
• Multiple plans implemented by multiple groundwater sustainability agencies and coordinated with a single coordination agreement that covers the entire basin.

DWR developed the draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations after conducting listening sessions and extensive outreach around the state to gather perspectives from Advisory Groups, statewide stakeholders, partners, and local agencies. The initial draft of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations is available for public review on DWR’s website, where the public also has the opportunity to submit written comments through March 25, 2016. DWR will host a statewide webinar and three public meetings in March to further solicit public input on the draft regulations. The final Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations will also take public comment into consideration.

Additional information:

The draft regulations are available for public review at http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/gsp.cfm. Comments can be submitted to DWR through March 25, 2016. Thirty days following the release of the draft GSP regulations, DWR will hold three public meetings to receive comments. The meetings are tentatively planned between March 21 and March 25.  Information on the specific dates, times, and location will be posted online soon and notification will be sent to this email list.

How to Make Effective Comments

All written comments received on the draft regulations will be posted online and considered. The most effective comments are those that follow these guidelines:

  • Comments should be concise and focus directly on the draft regulations.
  • Comments should identify the specific section(s) of the draft regulations at issue and should include supporting evidence and facts.
  • The commenter should provide complete references and/or citations, particularly when referring to websites (that is, provide a specific URL address rather than simply citing “DWR website” for example).

The review and comment period is from February 18, 2016, through March 25, 2016. Written comments must be received electronically or postmarked on or before March 25, 2016.

Formal comments can be submitted in the following formats:

  • At a public meeting via Comment Card
  • Email to: SGMPS@water.ca.gov (Subject: Draft GSP Regulations Public Comment)
  • Mail to:

California Department of Water Resources

Attn: Lauren Bisnett, Public Affairs Office

P.O. Box 942836

Sacramento, California 94236

Statements made to DWR staff are not considered formal comments. All comments received on the draft regulations will be posted and considered for the final regulations and in the decision-making process. No final decisions have been made with regards to draft regulations; decisions will only occur after the formal public review and comment period ends. DWR is committed to transparency; all public comments will be made available on DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management website.

Timeline for Adopting Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations

  • Release of Draft GSP Regulations – February 18, 2016
  • Public comment meetings – March 2016
  • Deadline for public comment – March 25, 2016
  • Proposed presentation of GSP Regulations to California Water Commission for consideration and potential adoption – Spring 2016
  • Submission of adopted GSP Regulations to Office of Administrative Law – Spring 2016

For information about DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Program please visit:

http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/index.cfm

For more information regarding California’s groundwater please visit:

http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/index.cfm

 

While the early winter rain and snowpack are promising, this year may yet prove to be a fifth consecutive year of drought in California. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit www.Drought.CA.gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water; find out how at www.SaveOurWater.com

 

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