A new report, authored by experts from organizations including The Nature Conservancy, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Audubon California, and Clean Water Action, provides a set of recommendations on how California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act can better protect vulnerable communities and the environment. The recommendations are based on findings from a study published this week in Nature Communications, which found that the majority of local groundwater plans developed under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) overlook the state’s most vulnerable groundwater users.
More than 100 groundwater sustainability plans submitted to the State of California and required under SGMA in 2020 and 2022 were rigorously reviewed to assess the degree to which each plan integrates diverse stakeholder groups into the planning process.
In response to the study’s findings, the report released recommends that large data gaps from insufficient groundwater monitoring be closed in order to decrease the risk that unsustainable groundwater use will harm underrepresented communities and the environment.
The report also makes recommendations to address the study’s finding that groundwater sustainability plans lack information about climate change impacts on water resources.
A webinar was held that provided an overview of the analysis of the plans and information about how the plans fail to protect groundwater for many. The webinar included brief presentations, a live demonstration of an interactive visual data tool, and a Question and Answer session.