DWR SGMA NEWS: Alternatives, Workshops on how to submit GSPs, Bulletin 118 survey, and more …

NEW Decisions on Alternatives to Groundwater Sustainability Plans Announced

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced decisions on alternatives to groundwater sustainability plans. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) allowed local agencies to submit an alternative in-lieu of a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) by January 1, 2017. The alternative must satisfy the objectives of SGMA and demonstrate the basin has been operating sustainably for at least 10 years or has a well-defined plan to achieve sustainability within 20 years.

DWR reviewed and assessed alternatives submitted for 15 groundwater basins; nine were approved and six were not recommended for approval. Basins with approved alternatives are required to continue implementing their plans and provide annual reporting and five-year updates on their progress.

For alternatives that were not recommended for approval, DWR’s analysis determined the basins’ existing or planned efforts do not satisfy the objectives of SGMA. Those agencies now have 30 days to notify DWR if they believe information in their submittal was missed during the department’s review. No new analysis or documentation will be considered. DWR will evaluate submitting agency responses and finalize the assessments within 60 days. If no response is received from the submitting agency, then determinations will be finalized at the close of the 30-day period.

Basins whose alternatives are ultimately not approved by DWR must immediately form a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) and submit GSPs by January 31, 2022.  Basins without a GSA are subject to extraction reporting requirements. The State Water Resources Control Board, which has the authority under SGMA to intervene where no GSA has been formed, intends to coordinate with affected county governments to support the immediate formation of GSAs in unmanaged basins to avoid mandatory extraction reporting requirements. For more information on forming a GSA, visit the GSA web page.

In most cases, the submitted alternatives that were not recommended for approval offer a strong foundation for developing a GSP and DWR can provide financial, planning, and technical assistance to local agencies to support future GSP development and implementation.

For results and updated Frequently Asked Questions on alternatives, visit the new alternatives web page.

NEW Save the Date: DWR Workshops on How to Submit GSPs

In August, DWR will host GSP Reporting System workshops. DWR staff will present information on the updated SGMA Portal, provide step-by-step instructions for GSP submittal, demonstrate the new tool, and answer questions. More information will follow in the upcoming weeks.

Save the dates:


Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, 2 p.m.
Woodward Park Regional Library, Woodward Park Meeting Room
944 E Perrin Ave, Fresno


Wednesday, Aug.‎ ‎21‎, ‎2019, 9 a.m.
Hilton Garden Inn
3625 Marriott Dr.

Sacramento Webcast

Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, 12:30 p.m.

NEW DWR Implements Website Changes

DWR has updated its website policy and as a result, some previously available documents have been archived. If there is a document you cannot locate or if you have difficulty accessing any documents, please email sgmps@water.ca.gov.

NEW “California’s Groundwater” Bulletin 118 Update Coming in 2020. Take the Survey.

DWR wants your input on Bulletin 118 as it prepares for the 2020 update. Bulletin 118 is an inventory and assessment of available information on the occurrence and nature of California’s groundwater and is used to inform decisions affecting the protection, use, and management of this resource.

A new Bulletin 118 fact sheet is available to provide more information.

Take the brief survey and let DWR know how you use, and how we can improve, Bulletin 118.

If you have questions, contact Brett Wyckoff at Brett.Wyckoff@water.ca.gov

NEW GSA Names Will be Modified on the SGMA Portal

To facilitate submittal of GSPs and associated groundwater-related data, DWR must make minor modifications to GSA names on the SGMA Portal and “split” notifications that cover multiple basins or subbasins. The naming convention on the SGMA Portal does not affect a local agency’s legal GSA name. The following provides some examples of the necessary name changes:

  • “Local Agency Name” Groundwater Sustainability Agency will become “Local Agency Name” GSA
  • If a “Local Agency Name” GSA covers multiple basins using a single notification, then that single notification will be split and become “Local Agency Name” GSA – “Basin Name”
  • If a “Local Agency Name” GSA has multiple notifications in the same basin, then those notifications will become “Local Agency Name” GSA – 1, “Local Agency Name” GSA – 2, etc.
  • The naming convention of “County of X” GSA will be applied
  • The naming convention of “City of X” GSA will be applied
  • Other naming conventions may be applied after consulting with the affected GSA

GSA name modifications will be completed by DWR staff and will take effect in August 2019 prior to the DWR workshop on how to submit GSPs.

If you have questions or concerns, please email sgmps@water.ca.gov.

REMINDER GSAs May Need to Update Posted Notifications

Many existing GSAs need to modify posted notifications to align with new 2018 basin boundaries, reflect new basin names, or clarify groundwater management intent.

If your GSA has been affected by a basin boundary or basin name change you should update that information on the SGMA Portal. DWR encourages GSAs to clearly define exclusive groundwater management boundaries on the SGMA Portal before adopting and submitting a GSP to certify that a basin has complete GSA coverage. A GSP Initial Notification may also need to be revised or re-submitted. To modify existing GSA information, an authorized user must log into the GSA Formation Notification System and follow the instructions on page 7 of this document.

DWR has updated its GSA Frequently Asked Questions and GSA Formation Notification Guidelines documents to help local agencies and GSAs make informed decisions when establishing or reorganizing basin-wide governance.

For more information, visit DWR’s Groundwater Management webpage.

For questions, please email sgmps@water.ca.gov.

REMINDER Take a Survey to Help Plan the Next GSA Forum

DWR hosted a GSA Forum in March 2019 which brought together water planners and stakeholders from across the state to share experiences and strategies as they implement SGMA. Based on the level of interest and comments received from attendees, the forum was a beneficial venue for building networks and sharing strategies associated with SGMA implementation. DWR plans to host additional GSA Forums to further communication among SGMA water managers and stakeholders. Please complete the survey so we can use your input to help plan and improve the next GSA Forum.

Take the GSA Forum Survey.

REMINDER IRWM Implementation Grants Proposal Solicitation Package Available

DWR released the final Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) for the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Implementation Grant Program, which provides funding for projects that help meet the long-term water needs of the state and incorporate integrated regional strategies. Approximately $222.3 million in Proposition 1 grant funding is available for IRWM implementation projects, with $23.6 million designated for projects that provide support to Disadvantaged Communities. GSAs and SGMA stakeholders interested in IRWM Implementation funding should coordinate with their respective IRWM Region.

For more information, visit the IRWM Implementation Grant Program page.

REMINDER DWR’s Guidance Documents Can Help with SGMA Communication and Engagement

SGMA requires GSAs to consider all beneficial uses and users when preparing GSPs. DWR has documents that provide clarification, guidance, and examples to help GSAs develop the essential communication and engagement elements of a GSP. These useful publications can be found on the Assistance and Engagement Webpage.Guidance documents include: Stakeholder Communication and Engagement, and Engagement with Tribal Governments.

REMINDER Submit Your GSP Initial Notification

Before initiating development of a GSP, GSAs are required to notify DWR in writing. GSAs must submit all applicable GSP initial notification information to DWR using the SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System. The SGMA Portal – GSP Initial Notification System also allows edits to be made to a previously submitted Initial Notification, including the ability to withdraw a submittal.

For more information, please see Frequently Asked Questions on GSP Initial Notification Requirements or contact the Regional Coordinators in DWR’s four Regional Offices.

For assistance with the system, please email monica.reis@water.ca.gov.

Connect with Your Basin Point of Contact

DWR has designated Basin Points of Contact to assist local agencies and GSAs as GSPs are developed and implemented and to assist with applications for Technical Support Services and Facilitation Support Services.

For regional inquiries, please contact sgmp_rc@water.ca.gov.

For general inquiries, please contact sgmps@water.ca.gov.

Click here to view all posted announcements.

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