ACWA Recommendations for Achieving Groundwater Sustainability

ACWA issued a suite of recommendations April 7 for improving management of groundwater basins throughout California.

The recommendations, developed by a special task force and approved by ACWA's Board of Directors on March 28, include legislative and administrative changes to strengthen groundwater management and accountability where it is deficient, provide new tools and authorities to accelerate progress by local and regional agencies, and guide enhanced state support where needed.

ACWA’s recommendations come as discussions continue in the regulatory and legislative arenas to identify ways to address potentially unsustainable declines in groundwater levels and degraded groundwater quality in some basins of the state. The drought has brought the problem into even sharper focus.

ACWA presented the recommendations at an April 16 workshop held by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

The recommendations, attached below, call for the following:

  • New uniform requirements for groundwater management planning and performance reporting
  • Adoption of a new definition of “sustainable groundwater management” in state law
  • A menu of best management practices for implementing groundwater management plans
  • New tools and authorities for local groundwater management agencies
  • New state administrative measures to ensure local groundwater management accountability
  • A funding approach to support local capacity building and implementation
  • Comprehensive state action to remove impediments to surface water supply reliability

The recommendations build on ACWA'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.

Recommendations Mentioned in Editorials

ACWA's recommendations were mentioned in recent editorials.

The Sacramento Bee called them a "game-changer" in an April 13 editorial, while the San Jose Mercury News characterized them as a "breakthrough" in an April 10 editorial.

  • View the Sacramento Bee editorial here.
  • View the San Jose Mercury News editorial here.
Final_ACWA Groundwater Sustainability Recommendations.pdf905.28 KB
News release_ACWA Releases Groundwater Recommendations 4-7-14.pdf184.29 KB