CA WATER COMMISSION: Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation update
At the April meeting of the California Water Commission, Trevor Joseph and Steven Springhorn with the Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management program gave a high-level overview of how groundwater sustainability agency formation is going so far, along with a preview of new data tools that the Department is working on to provide information to the groundwater sustainability agencies as they are developing their groundwater sustainability plans.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires local agencies who want to be the Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) for their groundwater basin submit notification to the Department in order to potentially avoid State Water Resources Control Board intervention; it is also a signal to the state that these local agencies intend to prepare groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs).
Mr. Joseph noted that there’s a lot of blue on the map, meaning a lot of local agencies have come together especially in the last few months and have worked out the details to submit GSA formation notifications to the Department.
SGMA and the GSP regulations allow for the public to comment on the alternatives.
Steven Springhorn, Senior Engineering Geologist with the Department’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Program, then updated the Commission on the work that the Department has been doing to provide technical assistance to the newly forming GSAs and their efforts to develop groundwater sustainability plans.
“But we are also hearing and fully expect that locals also need help and assistance through this, so the assistance is what we’re developing now.” Mr. Springhorn’s presentation was focused more on statewide tools, analysis, and data sets, but there are other additional areas that the Department is working on.
“We’ve been providing data, tools, and analysis, the CASGEM program, which is a key piece for groundwater level information; there are different maps and different reports that we’ve done throughout the years,” he said.
SGMA puts an emphasis or premium on having informed decisions over this long planning horizon.” Mr. Springhorn noted that there are a lot of requirements to compile data in SGMA and the GSPs, but that data is distributed in a number of areas and different websites within our agency and other state and federal agencies.
“There are a number of data requirements in the water budget, and we plan to provide the tools necessary to complete those requirements, such as models throughout the state,” Mr. Springhorn said.
Trevor Joseph then concluded the presentation by noting that now that the legislative requirements are mostly behind them, the Department is really focused on providing the financial planning and technical assistance moving forward so that local agencies can complete their plans on time, either by 2020 or 2022.