California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

Roux Associates attended the California Water Summit in June, alongside representatives of water agencies, local governments, regulatory agencies, law firms, water technology companies, financial industries, and other consultants. The principal focus of the summit concerned the opportunities presented by the recently enacted California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

The SGMA was initially introduced in context of the current multi-year drought in California, acknowledging the key role groundwater plays in water supply and the general paucity of coordinated management for this resource. In response, the SGMA mandates that local water agencies adopt groundwater management plans tailored to local water needs and constraints. Specifically, the SGMA requires that groundwater sustainability plans be adopted for designated medium and high priority groundwater basins in California that have not been subject to adjudication.

As stipulated under SGMA, groundwater sustainability plans for each basin must avoid:

1) Chronic lowering of groundwater levels, not including overdraft during a drought if a basin is otherwise managed;

2) Significant and unreasonable:
– reduction of groundwater storage,
– seawater intrusion,
– degraded water quality, including the migration of contaminant plumes that impair water supplies,
– land subsidence that substantially interferes with surface land uses; and

3) Depletions of interconnected surface water that have significant and unreasonable adverse impacts on beneficial uses of the surface water.

Lower priority groundwater basins, while exempt from the SGMA sustainability plan requirement, are nonetheless encouraged to develop groundwater management plans.

Implementation deadlines associated with the SGMA include:

  • Local groundwater sustainability agencies to oversee sustainability planning must be established by 2017.
  • Basins in a state of overdraft must be addressed under a groundwater sustainability plan by 2020.
  • Medium and high priority basins not in an overdraft condition must have sustainability plans in place by 2022.
  • Medium and high priority basins must achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040 (extendable by an additional 10 years, with adequate rationale.)

If you want more information about the Water Summit or would like to speak with Roux Associates about how the SGMA impacts your operations or water management, please click the button below.


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