STATE WATER BOARD: Update on SGMA Implementation
At the State Water Resources Control Board meeting on August 15th, staff from both the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board were on hand to deliver this update on Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Implementation and planned state intervention actions.
He noted that there are four entities engaged in SGMA implementation: The Department of Water Resources is a regulatory and assisting agency; they will perform technical evaluations of the new groundwater sustainability plan requirements for the local agencies.
The local agencies in high and medium priority basins throughout the state must avoid these undesirable results within 20 years of implementing their plans; those plans are due in 2020 for critically overdrafted basins, and in 2022 for the remaining basins.
293 agencies for 127 basins?
“Because an alternative was submitted in compliance with SGMA, the GSA doesn’t necessarily have to be formed in those basins unless the Department does not approve that alternative, so of those 22 alternatives, I think 11 of those basins have full GSA coverage, 9 of those basins don’t have any GSA coverage and 2 have partial, so if the Department does not approve the alternative, there will be some additional GSAs formed in those particular basins.” Mr. Norberg said that 140 basins now have GSAs; 108 of them are high and medium priority basins; 32 low and very low priority basins have GSA coverage.
The next phase of implementation for the Department will be to provide assistance to local agencies and GSAs in the preparation of their groundwater sustainability plans.
The Board staff have worked hard to make sure there is an appropriate incentive to the process, but really the credit goes to the local agencies that have invested in a lot of hours of coordination and stakeholder meetings to get these organizations in place.” The State Water Board has identified the managed and unmanaged areas because the Board has a role after the June 30th deadline to start collecting extraction reports from groundwater pumpers in areas that are outside of the management of the GSA.
These areas were determined by taking information from the Department of Water Resources on GSA boundaries, basins submitting alternatives, and adjudicated areas, and combined those.
It’s also worth pointing out that board staff are still continuing to review the GSA filings.
When you consider that there’s somewhere between maybe 1 million and 2 million wells in the state of California, and 40 are subject to the SGMA reporting requirements, that is a tremendously successful number, and it goes to the work of the locals who realized this was a real thing and that SGMA was something that they had to look at and address and work towards going forward.” With that being said, the the hard work is still to come, Mr. Ekdahl cautioned.