SGMA: DWR releases its periodic reviews of nine alternative GSPs

From the Department of Water Resources:

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR, the Department) today released nine periodic reviews of Alternatives (Alternatives) to a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) submitted by local agencies to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The Department is required to perform a periodic review of each Alternative at least every five years, based on the agency’s periodic evaluation and annual reports, with an emphasis on maintaining or achieving sustainability. Today’s release marks the first time under SGMA that DWR has completed a periodic review of an Alternative or a GSP.

SGMA requires that each medium- or high-priority groundwater basin develop a GSP that defines a sustainability goal for the basin (Water Code § 10727). SGMA provided an opportunity for local agencies to submit an Alternative for evaluation and assessment by the Department if the local agency believed that the alternative satisfied the objectives of SGMA for the basin (Water Code § 10733.6).

Alternatives could be either (1) an existing groundwater management plan, (2) an adjudication, or (3) an analysis of basin conditions that demonstrates that the basin has operated within its sustainable yield over a period of at least 10 years. Alternatives based on a 10-year sustainable yield analysis must demonstrate the absence of undesirable results. Alternatives based on an existing groundwater management plan must demonstrate that implementation of the Alternative is likely to achieve sustainability within 20 years.

Today’s release includes the approval of nine Alternatives for the following basins: Pajaro Valley Subbasin, Coastal Plain of Orange County Basin, Llagas Area Subbasin, Santa Clara Subbasin, Mission Creek Subbasin, Niles Cone Subbasin, Livermore Valley Basin, Indio Subbasin, and Tahoe South Subbasin. These Alternatives are approved with recommended corrective actions that the agencies will need to address in their next periodic evaluation, due in December 2026. DWR’s approval identifies that the Alternative substantially complies with the GSP Regulations and SGMA law, relying upon the best available science and information, and that implementation of the Alternative is likely to achieve or maintain the basin’s sustainability goal.

DWR released A Guide to Annual Reports, Periodic Evaluations, and Plan Amendments, which provides guidance to groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) preparing Annual Reports, Periodic Evaluations, and GSP Amendments under SGMA and the GSP Regulations. A Frequently Asked Questions and Available Resources document was also released in October 2023, which provides more information about these documents required by SGMA.

The periodic reviews and related materials can be found on the SGMA Portal. To learn more about Alternatives, visit DWR’s Alternative GSP website. For any SGMA-related questions, please email DWR at:

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