The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced their decisions on groundwater sustainability plans in 17 non-critically overdrafted groundwater basins.
The determinations mark DWR’s ongoing work to achieve long-term sustainability for the state’s groundwater basins, which act as a critical water supply for millions of Californians.
“DWR is committed to supporting these local agencies as we work toward the common goal of protecting California’s groundwater infrastructure, which is critical to a stable water supply that can withstand extreme drought and flood.” said Paul Gosselin, DWR Deputy Director of Sustainable Groundwater Management.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) directs DWR to evaluate groundwater sustainability plans to determine whether the plans are based on the best available science and information and reasonably achieve the objective. to maintain for each ground water basin. Groundwater plans address current issues and long-term solutions to water sustainability for communities, households, industry, and the environment.
The criteria for evaluating the plan are specified in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan regulations. Each of the 17 basins in the latest decision submitted a basin plan.
DWR approved plans for 11 basins: Cosumnes, Eel River Valley, Elsinore Valley, Mound, Ojai Valley, San Gorgonio Pass, San Pasqual Valley, Santa Monica, Sutter, White Wolf, and Yolo.
DWR considers the following six basin plans incomplete: Antelope, Big Valley (5-004), Colusa, Corning, Los Molinos, and Red Bluff.
DWR said that common deficiencies in basins considered incomplete include the lack of a clear plan to eliminate overdraft, manage groundwater levels, and manage soil erosion.
The incomplete basins, primarily located north of Sacramento, have historically not experienced land subsidence, but in the last decade there has been a dramatic increase in subsidence rates and dry wells in this region. Failure to establish sustainable management standards for groundwater levels and land drainage as required by the GSP Regulations may result in significant impacts on beneficial uses and users of groundwater, particularly affecting domestic well users and critical infrastructure.
Under GSP regulations, if DWR determines that a basin is incomplete, the groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) have 180 days to correct the deficiencies and revise and submit their plans. . Upon evaluation of the submitted plans, DWR will make a determination that the basin will be approved or inadequate. Inadequate determination will initiate consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board for possible State intervention.
Of the total 94 groundwater basins required to submit plans under the SGMA, DWR has provided determinations for 72 basins and is currently reviewing an additional 19 plans from 17 of the state’s high- and medium-priority basins submitted to DWR in January 2022. DWR expects to issue determinations for the remaining basins in January 2024.