California enacted landmark legislation in 2014 known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The legislation provides a framework for sustainable management of groundwater supplies by local authorities, with a limited role for state intervention only if necessary to protect the resource.
The act requires the formation of local groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) that must assess conditions in their local water basins and adopt locally-based management plans. The act provides substantial time – 20 years – for GSAs to implement plans and achieve long-term groundwater sustainability. It protects existing surface water and groundwater rights and does not impact current drought response measures.
ACWA supported the legislation, which was substantially consistent with recommendations developed by the association’s Groundwater Sustainability Task Force and adopted by the ACWA Board of Directors on March 28.
ACWA's Recommendations for Achieving Groundwater Sustainability build on the association's landmark 2011 document, "Sustainability from the Ground Up: A Framework for Groundwater Management in California," which provided an in-depth look at groundwater issues and recommended proactive steps to advance groundwater sustainability.
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is considered one part of a statewide, comprehensive water plan for California that includes investments in water conservation, water recycling, expanded water storage, safe drinking water, wetlands and watershed restoration. The plan is intended to ensure a reliable water supply for California for years to come.