Almond trees in bloom; Photo by Bruce Barnett via Flickr

GSA SUMMIT: Lessons learned from the 2020 GSPs: Perspectives from the critically overdrafted basins

The implementation phase of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act has now begun for the basins designated as critically-overdrafted. Getting to this point has been an unparalleled journey as communities, farmers, water suppliers, and others navigated through uncharted territory to develop local solutions for sustainable groundwater management. At the Groundwater Resources Association Third Annual Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit held online in June, a panel of managers from four of the critically overdrafted basins reflected on the hard work of developing and adopting a groundwater sustainability plan.

Seated on the panel were Gary Petersen from the Salinas Valley Basin GSA; Eric Osterling from the Mid Kaweah GSA; Deanna Jackson from TriCounty GSA; and Patricia Poire from the Kern Groundwater Authority.  Collectively, these GSAs are having to deal with all six of the undesirable results, from subsidence to groundwater levels to seawater intrusion, and they overly five of the 21 critically overdrafted basins.

Each panelist then discussed the process that they went through in developing their plans, the lessons they learned, and their advice for those developing the plans that will be due in January of 2022.

GARY PETERSEN, Salinas Valley BasinGroundwater Sustainability Agency

Gary Petersen serves as a Senior Advisor for Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a GSA located on the Central Coast that is comprised of six subbasins, one of which is considered critically overdrafted.

The map on the left shows the groundwater basins that are part of the GSA.  Mr. Petersen noted that the GSA recently completed a basin boundary modification to join the yellow area with the pink area.  The blue rectangle is the Arroyo Seco GSA.  The area shown in aqua is the 180/400 foot aquifer which is considered critically drafted and where seawater intrusion is a problem.  The chartreuse green area laid on top of the aqua area is the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project which, since the late 90s, has taken treated wastewater and used it for irrigation of crops, one of the first projects in the country to do that, noted Mr. Petersen.

The Salinas Valley GSA is a joint powers authority.  When Mr. Petersen began the process, he had two goals: to raise funds to fund the agency and to complete the GSP for the 180/400 basin.  Since then, the agency has expanded with now three on staff that are working on the next five GSPs that are due in 2022.

What I most want you to understand is that I’m really a process-oriented person,” he said.  “I really believe that how we do what we do and how we deliver outcomes is just as important as the outcomes themselves.  It doesn’t take much to look at our world right now where we stand and understand the role that process plays, the role of science, and the role of everybody in the process of making decisions of managing a global pandemic or looking at the issues of racial equity, or policing, or an economy that has just really going to take us for a ride, and how we address those things is the process and the way that we get things done.”

I believe the intent of SGMA is that we collaborate,” he continued.  “There are a lot of processes available to us to reach the outcomes that we want.  Some of those are fighting, some of those are political, some of those are legal.  When you look at the number of times you fight your way through a process and somebody wins and somebody loses, and in the end, you might have a product but you also have bitterness and people that have lost.  The same happens in politics, the same happens in the legal arena.”

But in a collaborative process, you build relationships,” he continued.  “As we look at getting to the end of our GSPs and the 20 years of implementation that is required to get us to the end, I think how we consider collaboration is a process of building long-term relationships and to co-create a plan is critical to the success of our implementation.”

The figure on the slide on the left is from the paper, Concurrent Governance Processes of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which is written by Anita Millman and Michael Kiparsky.  The figure shows three levels of concurrent governance in the SGMA process:  The vertical governance is the path down, which is DWR and the state; the horizontal governance is the boards and elected officials and the formal process for making decisions; and underneath and surrounding all of that is the network of interested parties.

SGMA says all beneficial users, and in the Salinas Valley, that is everyone,” said Mr. Petersen.  “So how do you design a governance model that addresses everyone’s needs, especially when you’re looking in at an environment where 93% of the groundwater is used by a multibillion-dollar agricultural industry, and that 400,000 people drink that water and are employed by that industry?  It’s about balancing those decisions.”

Mr. Petersen first encountered network governance from the book, Water is Fighting For and Other Myths of the West, which was written by John Fleck.  In the book, he discusses the network governance that was formed to help manage the Colorado River that is comprised of multiples states and agencies; how they work as a network to make decisions and then go back to their agencies to codify that it is highly complex.  So from the beginning, they designed the governance process a network: they formed a joint powers authority and developed a voting network; they had a 22 member formation committee and multiple public meetings to let everyone know what they were doing.  There was transparency from the beginning.

There’s also the real reality that if you don’t bring people inside, they’ll stand outside and throw stones.

How you build that network and enroll folks through advisory committee processes and how your transparency keeps your network informed I believe is extremely critical to the success of developing a GSP that is supported by all of the myriad of individuals, agencies, and parties,” he said.  “There’s also the real reality that if you don’t bring people inside, they’ll stand outside and throw stones.  So bringing people into a really robust form of network governance, I believe is critical to what we do.”

Adaptive management is also important. “In my world and in my belief in how things work, all good management is adaptive,” he said.  “We must adjust, we must plan, we must reevaluate constantly, figure out where we’re going and what we’re going to do.  Say it early and say it often.  Let folks know that this is a planning process, that you’re giving your best effort to get a plan done in two years, but that plan is going to adapt and evolve as we work through 20 years to get to implementation.  You have the annual reports and the five-year updates to change those plans, you will find that you are missing data and critical information, and you will find that you recommend projects that you don’t know enough about to know if it’s viable to build them.  This is our experience with our GSP which I think is a very good robust GSP.”

When developing the plan, there will be planners and others interested in the process who tend to think the plan is completed and implemented so the process is over, and when they hear that the plan is not complete or that there are data gaps, they can get nervous and anxious.

One of the ways to work with that is to communicate that very early on,” said Mr. Petersen.  “So understand that it will not stay the same, that your plan must change, it must evolve, and it must adapt, and you must inform people of that process all the way through so that they can understand that it is an ongoing process.  We found this was very helpful.  We had some failures around that in the beginning and continued to have to come back and explain how the process really works, so I think it’s important to be right upfront and right out there.”

Transparency is the key ingredient, Mr. Petersen said.  “We held over 125 public meetings and presentations in two years.  Over 80 of those meetings were governance meetings, and every agenda, every set of minutes, all of our documents, all of our reports – every single document that we can legally release is on our website for everyone to see all the time.  We also have published all of the data, we have a publicly accessible dataset that we built and continually add to.”

We listened closely to what people say they want,” he continued.  “In this process, I’ll be the first one to tell you, I do not have all the answers.  I don’t think anybody has the answers.  We have to continue to work towards those answers.  Be honest about what you can and can’t do.  Be honest about the process. Pay attention to people’s needs.  Tell the truth.”

Fairness is also a critical piece.  Mr. Petersen has an entire presentation on the neurological science of fairness.  “We are programmed to want fairness,” he said.  “If people believe your process is fair, they will participate legitimately and honestly and be more willing to give and take.  The way you convince people that your process is fair is by running a fair process.  That sounds easy but really it’s about that transparency, it’s about listening, and it’s about letting people see they can influence your plan.  We have now probably 800 to 900 people signed up on our website to get our information all time.  We’re constantly publishing, constantly adding to that, and the access to that information and our willingness to say when we’re right, when we’re wrong, when we’ve made mistakes, and to be honest has really taken us a long way.”

I can’t say enough about the process being open, honest, transparent, legitimate, making room for everyone and then balancing the expertise.  In our voting structure, even though ag uses most of the water, it is set up so folks cannot dominate the process.  Everyone has to have a voice and you can’t run over people.”

Finally, Mr. Petersen emphasized that the process is really about humans.  “Coming from the Salinas Valley, I’m compelled to quote John Steinbeck who says, ‘it never failed that during the dry years, the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years, they lost all memory of the dry years.  It was always that way.’  In my opinion, one of the worst things that happened to SGMA and certainly happened to us is that it rained in 2017 and 2018 and people were so willing to think the problem was solved, but if you’re doing your science and you understand it, an aquifer does not bounce back in exchange, so you have to keep doing this work.

“I often say the soundtrack of the Salinas Valley is the slow shuffle of people dragging old baggage around and the distant thumping of people beating dead horses.”

But it’s those long histories of the failures, the difficulties, and the problems came from the way that people hold their grudges in history over time.  “Agencies and organizations that have fought for years that see SGMA as a new platform to continue those grudges,” Mr. Petersen said.  “I often say the soundtrack of the Salinas Valley is the slow shuffle of people dragging old baggage around and the distant thumping of people beating dead horses.”

The challenge to the process is to present this information and to present this process in a way where people see a possibility for something different and something new.  Certainly, SGMA presents that opportunity because it is new and none of us have ever done it before and we’re all in a state of discovery.  We all need to own that.  If you do the transparency piece and the fairness piece, people will be more willing to believe that there may be a new and different possible alternative future than the one they lived through.  But our issues which will result in litigation have come from bad historical relationships where people simply can’t get passed their old wounds and their old hurts.”

This is a deeply human process that we’re engaged in and frankly we are messing with the life force itself with water, a billion-dollar industry, people’s drinking water on the line,” he said.  “You must treat it with respect and do everything that you possibly can to get passed those hurdles of history that people do not want to surrender and frankly as hard as I work on that, I find that to be the most difficult thing.”

Mr. Petersen then offered his sincere congratulations to everyone who got their plans over the finish line.  “For those of you who are only now undertaking this, all I can say to you is you may have a lot of ideas about how this is going to go, but you do not know how it will end.  There is an end in the distance but its unpredictable and will go in many different directions.  Stay open, stay flexible, stay positive, stay true to you process, give it your best, but what you are doing here is something that’s never been done and the challenges are immense.”

ERIC OSTERLING, Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency

Eric Osterling is the general manager of the Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency, a position he has held for about two years.  The Kaweah subbasin is a 441,000-acre critically overdrafted subbasin in the southern San Joaquin Valley.  The Greater Kaweah GSA is one of three GSAs in the basin, encompassing 220,000 acres or about half of the basin.  The Greater Kaweah GSA is mostly comprised of rural agricultural lands speckled with dozens of very small and mostly unincorporated disadvantaged communities, as well as about 2,000 domestic wells.  The basin has subsidence issues on the western side of their GSA boundary and water quality issues and domestic well dewatering issues more on the eastern side of the GSA.

While the region has a decent surface water supply served by the Friant-Kern Canal and local waterways such as the Kaweah and St. John Rivers, the demand is estimated to currently exceed supply by an average of about 30,000 acre-feet per year, which was estimated with a current average hydrologic period of 2007-2017,” said Mr. Osterling.

He echoed the importance of governance and decision making; setting up the right governance process and forming the right partnerships and the linkages related to that are critical to the success of the planning and implementation process.

The Greater Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency is a five-member JPA with a nine-member board.  The JPA members are the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Kings County Water District, Lakeside Irrigation Water District, St. Johns Water District, and Tulare County.  One of the board members is from Cal Water, which the GSA has a separate agreement with because Cal Water is a non-governmental agency and is not allowed to be an official member of a JPA.  There is one board member each from the stakeholder committee and the rural communities committee who represent agricultural interests, small disadvantaged community interests, and environmental interests.

They have a technical advisory committee that consists of six members appointed by each of the board of directors that is comprised of engineers, planners, geologists, and water managers.

Mr. Osterling noted that what’s interesting about the Rural Communities Committee and the Stakeholder Committee have chosen to meet together.  “One of the things that has been fascinating is while at the beginning of SGMA, I think we were fearful of those polarizing issues as being something that maybe they wouldn’t be able to agree on, but after time, we realized that we probably had more in common than we had not in common, so that’s been a very positive part of all of this.”

He noted that what is not represented on the side are the many partnerships that have been formed over the years between the three subbasin GSAs and various social and environmental groups, commodity groups, research institutions, and others.

The Greater Kaweah GSA is currently member-funded; they set an annual budget and they have a formula for apportioning those costs to their membership through quarterly assessments.  Right now they are in the process of replacing that with a Prop 218 election; however, Mr. Osterling noted that one of the many unfortunate things about the pandemic right now is that successful Prop 218 processes require very successful outreach efforts and it’s very difficult to do that when you can’t have large group gatherings and the workshops that typically lead to that success.

Prior to the passage of SGMA, monitoring and study of groundwater at least was largely a technical and scientific exercise with minimal consideration of California appropriative water law, and very little consideration of ownership of groundwater, unless it was being discussed in the context of groundwater banking.

So working through their respective attorneys, they developed the ‘Three Buckets Water Accounting Framework.  Considering California water law and evaluating the ownership of seepage, they broke things up into three buckets: native, foreign, and salvage.

Foreign: This is imported water which is water that otherwise wouldn’t come into the basin if it wasn’t paid for and conveyed to the region.  For this basin, it’s the supplies from the Friant Kern Canal.

Native: This is mountain front recharge, rainfall, small creeks, and streams that are flowing prior to any licensed diversion.

Salvage:  This is the most difficult to calculate.  In some cases, this includes irrigation return flows and calculating that is very difficult because the measurement is really lacking.  The accounting gets murky quickly, so when discussions come up about credits and water markets, they are not in the position right now technically to truly understand at a farm level, for example, how much water is returning to the aquifer in that specific location and how that should be credited, he said.

Mr. Osterling then gave his thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly.  First the good:

Good relationships between small number of GSAs covering the subbasin:  In the Kaweah basin, they were very fortunate to already have good relationships that had been forged between communities and agricultural interest groups, irrigation districts in part because of the IRWMP program.

Strong inclusive governance, good outreach and communication efforts: There was strong inclusive governance that was already established by the time Mr. Osterling began at the GSA, but he said it’s how he would have envisioned it.  It’s well represented and there’s been very good outreach and communication efforts tied to that.

Grants and partnerships significantly reduced local costs:  and gave us a head start on implementation tasks:  They have many partnerships, such as with Stanford University where they received some funding from NASA for some of the Sky TEM work.  They have been successful with the water bond grants and bringing in money for the development of the plan and planning related activities which significantly reduced costs and gave them a head start on implementation tasks.

Made the GSP deadline without litigation:  That was something that was talked about throughout the process.  They need to complete a plan and make it to the finish line, which meant setting aside some tough issues to be handled afterwards.  “If we blow this up before the deadline, it’s not going to be doing anybody any favors, and so we were successful in that.  Now we do have to tackle those more difficult issues.  That’s one of the priorities right now.”

At the beginning of SGMA, I think we were fearful of those polarizing issues as being something that maybe we wouldn’t be able to agree on, but after time, we realized that we probably had more in common than we had not in common, so that’s been a very positive part of all of this.

As for the bad and the ugly …

Significant budget overruns: Mr. Osterling said he doesn’t think that you can find a critically overdrafted groundwater basin in the state required to submit their plans in January that did it without going over budget.

Many more data gaps and data quality issues than expected: Know what you don’t know, and we didn’t know what we didn’t know until we got through this process, he said.

Well mapping/registration and how to measure is a major challenge: There are potentially 4000 wells in the GSA and how to go about registering those wells, getting them into the system, and then measure them is a big challenge.  They did receive a grant for this and will be looking at the various technologies such as remote sensing or an alternative like ‘Pow Wow’ that uses the electric bill and an algorithm to estimate pumping.

CA Water Law hasn’t meshed well with water accounting/allocation needs:  For example, when they took the water accounting framework and use the data to estimate the seepage that was occurring, they encountered some geographic challenges.  “The Tulare Irrigation District, who is part of the Mid-Kaweah GSA, their mainline canal crosses our GSA for a very long distance, and there’s a lot of seepage that’s going on there.  According to California water law, that is their seepage but how they recover it is a big challenge.”

Defining of the Sustainability Goal and SMCs more subjective than expected:  Everybody has an opinion and really everybody’s right, or everybody’s wrong, however you might want to look at it, Mr. Osterling said.  “It was a big challenge, especially leading up to the finish line when we were buttoning up the plan to please everybody.  You’re just not going to please everybody, unfortunately, so we’re hoping the filling of data gaps and gaining a better technical understanding is going to lead to more informed decisions on how we adjust those in the future which is really our objective right now.”

That concludes my presentation …

DEANNA JACKSON, Tri-County Water Authority

Deanna Jackson is the executive director for Tri-County Water Authority which is located in the central San Joaquin Valley in the Tulare Lake region.  The GSA straddles Kings County and Tulare County and borders Kern County to the south.  The GSA covers approximately 110,000 acres and two groundwater basins: The Tulare Lake subbasin and the Tule subbasin.

The Tri-County Water Authority is a four-member JPA, which includes a water district, a stormwater district, a reclamation district, and the County of Kings.  They also have an MOU with the County of Tulare to cover additional undistricted areas and an MOU with the Allensworth Community Services District, a small disadvantaged community.

Developing the GSP was definitely challenging, especially for the Tri-County GSA who participated in two different development processes.  In the Tule, the GSAs decided on multiple plans with a coordination agreement, and the five GSAs in the Tulare Lake subbasin decided to draft one plan.  “There are many questions that can’t be answered by Google, and that is especially true with SGMA,” said Ms. Jackson.

There are many questions that can’t be answered by Google, and that is especially true with SGMA.

One of the most challenging aspects for the Tule subbasin was the development of the coordination agreement.  Early discussions were centered around if the plans should be completed and then they write the coordination agreement, or should they draft a coordination agreement and write the plans accordingly.  They ended up working on the coordination agreement alongside the plans and left the most difficult things that needed to be negotiated to the end of the process.  They brought in legal counsel and with much work, they made it through the last few weeks and got it signed.

It was a proud moment for all the GSAs in the Tule subbasin, but that coordination agreement I think is maybe one of the most comprehensive coordination agreements I have seen,” said Ms. Jackson.  “I think our conversations at the table were difficult, but in the end, I am hoping that this coordination agreement would really serve us well during implementation.”

Now that the plans have been submitted and they enter into implementation, as a multi-basin GSA, they now face a whole new set of challenges.  “One of our difficult challenges is creating projects and policies that can accomplish the goal of both basins or both plans in those basins, and even though Tri-County has two separate plans to implement, we are working to incorporate the same basic policies and procedures to accomplish those goals for both basins,” she said.  “For example, we have a storage project that will provide surface water and recharge, it will also provide water for in-lieu pumping, and that is designed to benefit both what we term our north area in the Tule Subbasin, as well as our west management area in the Tulare Lake Subbasin.”

Another challenge for multiple basin GSAs is data collection and management.  With the Tri-County GSA, the data collection procedures and timelines differ for each subbasin.  The Tule subbasin coordination agreement is very specific regarding monitoring and collecting data while the Tulare Lake GSP gives each individual GSA more autonomy on how to accomplish those goals and what the procedures are.  So the Tri-County GSA is working to mesh the two timelines and the policies in the plans so that the goals and objectives for both plans can be implemented congruently or in the same fashion.

Another challenge is the collection of agricultural pumping data. How the data will be collected has been a subject of debate. The GSAs in the Tule subbasin recently contracted with Land IQ to provide remote sense data from satellites to evaluate the ET; the Tulare Lake GSAs look to be leaning more towards metering.

At Tri-County, we’ve talked about it with our advisory committee, and what we decided to do is to use both, so we have contracted with Land IQ to provide data for both subbasins for Tri County’s area, and we’re also going to require large agricultural wells to be metered and to report their metering,” said Ms. Jackson.  “I think that this is going to give us good data and basing future management actions and projects on good data is going to become very important.”

Tri-County, like most other GSAs in the valley, doesn’t have enough surface water to balance the overdraft, so in addition to projects to augment our supply, they are working on a policy that would provide an allocation above what is sustainable to growers, and that allocation would ramp down over time until the combination of projects are brought online and groundwater reduction equals sustainability.

The advisory committee is currently considering allocation methods.  The easiest way to allocate the water is to treat each acre equally and divide the sustainable amount across all the acres in the GSA.  At the end of the spectrum, the allocation considers different users and proportions the allocation more closely along the lines of how it might be done in an adjudication.  Even though the majority of the land in Tri County is agricultural, their stakeholders are still very diverse and include a disadvantaged community, federal lands, state lands, and environmental representatives, so considering the diversity in groundwater requirements during the allocation process is definitely challenging.

The allocation process, even within the subbasin, was an issue and it is not different for individual GSAs,” said Ms. Jackson.  “It definitely can be a controversial subject.”

As for funding, initially, the Tri-County GSA was initially supported by their member agencies, but eventually, they had to self-fund, so they went through the Prop 218 process early on, recently enacting a pumping fee.  Ms. Jackson noted that getting stakeholder buy-in was difficult as was deciding what should be included in the cost analysis report for the development of the plan and implementation.

Going through the Prop 218 process early on, we weren’t prepared to layout the projects for funding,” she said.  “Without grant money now and without going through a second Prop 218 process, we’re left with only private funding for our projects.  So one of my takeaways for anybody who is still working through the process is to really think beyond the plan development and engage your stakeholders in a robust discussion about the future and implementation and give your stakeholders a vision for where you want to go in the Prop 218 process.”

Ms. Jackson reiterated what other panelists had said that these plans are not perfect.  They are living documents that will certainly require more stakeholder engagement and definitely ongoing technical and data input and analysis.  Basin-wide management and governance will be an ongoing effort.

It’s new, and I think the challenge for us now is to not retreat back into our silos since we’ve submitted our plans,” she said.  “Continued collaboration and negotiation between the GSAs is going to be key to SGMA’s success.  If you have a coordination agreement, this may be set out in your coordination agreement, your governance structure, to move through the implementation phase.  But if you’re a basin with multiple GSAs and one GSP, you may need to think about putting the governance structure for how you’re going to implement together in your GSP or possibly do a separate document for that.

Keeping projects on schedule is also going to be a big challenge in the implementation phase.   An environmental review, generally thought of as being required for storage projects and such, may also be required for management actions such as pumping reduction or land fallowing, so that might need to be considered in the process as you move forward.

If you’re thinking about private funding of projects, reliable data is going to be key,” she said.  “You’ll find that your landowners are very reluctant to invest in anything that still has uncertainties, so I’d encourage GSAs to continue building partnerships with your stakeholders and include your community representatives, landowners, and NGOs.  Especially now that we are implementing basin plans, we’re going to have to consider how plan implementation now affects our neighbors, so basin boundaries in many ways don’t represent the hydrology of the region.

Data sharing across those boundaries and regional modeling are probably the next steps in interbasin coordination and I would suggest that partnerships and collaborations are only going to increase as we move into this interbasin coordination phase,” said Ms. Jackson.  “If that looks anything like it looked in drafting the GSPs, I think the next 5 years will prove to be very challenging.”

That ends my presentation …

PATTY POIRE, Kern Groundwater Authority

Patty Poire is the Planning Manager for the Kern Groundwater Authority, which covers 1.2 million acres of the 1.8 million-acre Kern groundwater basin.  The Kern Groundwater Authority is a JPA with sixteen members, which includes almost all of the water districts in Kern County.

Their GSP is unique in that it has ‘a GSP umbrella’ and management areas for each individual water district.  “The thought process behind that was because of the size of the basin and the different hydrologies, what happens on the east side is not anything like what happens on the west side of the basin, and the middle is different from both sides.  So how best do you manage?  With local expertise … in the case of the KGA, I could say that we are successful because of that.  Because we are looking at it from experts within their particular area of the basin, we were able to coordinate it a whole lot easier than if we were all trying to make the same rules across the basin, because the hydrology does not work that way.”

One of the challenges was with many agencies and many different management areas, they had to coordinate with other GSAs as well as themselves; they had to make sure that they weren’t impacting each other as well.  Collaboration was complicated at the beginning because it’s was not the mindset most water districts are accustomed to, so it was instilling a new concept.

Their biggest achievement to date was completing the plan and the coordination agreement by the deadline.  The Kern Groundwater Authority was especially challenged as the County of Kern walked away from the GSA leaving 487,000 acres that were not covered by a district, so it was a struggle figuring out how to handle the non-districted lands that the County walked away from in December.

It was a lot of effort by all of the GSAs and my members at the KGA to try to cover as many of those non-districted lands as possible,” Ms. Poire said.  “I have to take a moment to thank DWR and the State Water Board staff because without them as well, it would have probably not had our plans by January 31.”

As for what they’ve learned, they now know they have data gaps, and there are non-districted lands that they are going to have to familiarize themselves with.  What they do know as it relates to SGMA is that local knowledge is valuable and they need to continue to have that local control with that local knowledge in order to move forward.

No district is an island in the basin and that is a concept that SGMA has brought to the table that has been unique, that everybody needs to work together in the basin, and the collaboration must continue as we move forward.

No district is an island in the basin and that is a concept that SGMA has brought to the table that has been unique, that everybody needs to work together in the basin, and the collaboration must continue as we move forward,” said Ms. Poire.  “We have communities, rural communities, we need their knowledge.  In order for this basin to be successful, we have to keep everybody at the table.  I don’t know how this basin would be successful if we don’t keep everybody at the table, not only at the table but communicating and providing input.”

Next steps are to continue the collaboration and coordination effort with their stakeholders and landowners.

The Kern basin is one of the basins that used the CV-SIM water budget model to prepare their water budget.  Ms. Poire said the model was very valuable and they will continue to update it as they move forward.

We see that as an opportunity to go to the basins to the north of us and start inputting some of their management actions and some of their data in there as we move forward to 2025 GSPs so that we can get a concept idea of what activity to the north of us is impacting us here in the basin,” she said.

Lastly but not least, even though our county did walk away from our basin, we are very cognizant of the impacts of SGMA in this basin, and so we are working with our county to kind of work through how those impacts are going to impact the county economically,” said Ms. Poire.  “We know we are going to have to fallow land.  We know that we’re looking at fallowing approximately  186,000 irrigated acres.  Right now that is about a 26,000 loss of direct agricultural jobs and a $4.2 billion loss of output as well, so we are cognizant of the fact, and so we are working with the county on the economic impacts as well as to the communities.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email