THIS JUST IN … DWR Approves Sustainability Plans for 12 Groundwater Basins as Efforts Continue to Protect Critical Water Resources

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced today the approval of groundwater sustainability plans for 12 non-critically overdrafted groundwater basins located across California. The approved basins include Big Valley, Shasta Valley, Scott River Valley, East Side Aquifer, Forebay Aquifer, Langley Area, Monterey, Upper Valley Aquifer, San Jacinto, Upper Ventura River, San Luis Obispo Valley and Santa Margarita.

“We are impressed with the effort that local agencies have put into their groundwater sustainability plans. Since the plans in these 12 basins were adopted in 2022, the local agencies immediately began implementation and embraced groundwater sustainability. We look forward to supporting local agencies while they continue to improve their planning efforts,” said DWR Deputy Director of Groundwater Management Paul Gosselin. “We expect these plans to adapt over time to changing conditions. The climate-driven weather extremes we are experiencing amplify the need for long-term groundwater management planning to ensure a safe and reliable groundwater supply that can be accessed during both wet years and the driest years without causing negative impacts.”

DWR has now made determinations for 36 groundwater basins. Of the 36, a total of 30 basins are approved, including the 12 basins released today. Six basins are deemed inadequate and have transitioned to the State Water Resources Control Board intervention process. Additionally, DWR approved nine basins with alternatives to groundwater sustainability plans in July 2017. The 12 basins approved today are among the non-critically overdrafted basins that submitted their plans to DWR in January 2022. Other groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) in 47 basins that were required to submit plans in 2022 and currently have plans under review by DWR should anticipate additional determination releases throughout 2023.

The cornerstone of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is local control of groundwater basins. The law calls for local agencies to create GSAs and work with groundwater users to develop and implement plans to achieve the sustainability goals of groundwater basins over a 20-year period. These plans are expected to present a roadmap for how local agencies will reliably provide groundwater to their communities over the long-term.

DWR is charged with evaluating all plans to determine whether the plans substantially comply with the groundwater sustainability plan regulations and law, based on best available science and information, and whether implementation of the plans is reasonably likely to achieve the basin’s sustainability goal over the 20-year planning timeline of SGMA.

The release of assessments for these 12 approved basins provides direction to the local GSAs, including recommended actions, to ensure the basins remain on a path to long-term sustainability. Plans will be updated over time as new data and information becomes available and as conditions change in groundwater basins. DWR will review annual reports from the GSAs and assess updated plans every five years to determine if the GSAs are on track to meet their basin’s long-term sustainability goal.

DWR continues its extensive planning, technical and financial assistance to support GSAs and local communities. As part of DWR’s assistance efforts, a new drinking water well guidance document and online toolkit have recently been released and are available on DWR’s Drinking Water Well Resources webpage. These resources support local efforts to improve water supply reliability for Californians and communities who rely on groundwater wells for drinking water and household purposes, and support and assist GSAs as they implement and prepare for periodic updates of their plans to ensure they fully consider and appropriately engage drinking water well users during SGMA implementation.

In May 2022, DWR awarded $150 million in grant funding for projects to improve water supply security, water quality and groundwater supply reliability. DWR is also evaluating applications for more than $200 million in additional grant funding for SGMA implementation. These efforts align with the Newsom Administration’s goal to provide significant additional funding for projects to improve groundwater conditions and advance safe drinking water efforts for groundwater-dependent communities identified in the Governor’s Water Resilience Portfolio.

For more information, visit:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email