DWR Announces Draft Basin Prioritization for 57 Modified Basins

  • by Department of Water Resources
  • Apr 30, 2019
  • Water News

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced draft basin prioritization for 57 groundwater basins recently affected by basin boundary changes under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For more than 75% of these basins, the results are a confirmation of prioritizations established in 2015.

“SGMA is a pillar of the department’s integrated, holistic approach to water management and supply,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “These results allow local water agencies to determine their path forward to meet the law’s sustainability goals and secure the long-term resiliency of our state’s groundwater resources.”

Basin prioritization is based on factors including population, irrigated acreage, and the number of wells in the basin. Changes in prioritization generally reflect changed conditions, new information about existing conditions, changes to basin boundaries, and considerations required under SGMA. Considerations include adverse impacts to habitat and streamflow, adjudicated areas, critically overdrafted basins and groundwater-related transfers.

SGMA requires local agencies throughout the state to sustainably manage groundwater basins. Basins prioritized as high or medium are required to develop groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs), while basins prioritized as low or very low are not required to create plans but are encouraged to do so.

The current round of basin prioritization was released in two phases. Phase 1, released in January 2019, finalized priorities for 458 basins and identified 56 basins that are required to develop GSPs.

The draft Phase 2 decisions released today prioritized the remaining 57 basins using the new basin boundaries defined by the 2018 Basin Boundary Modifications. Phase 2 identified 38 basins that are required to develop GSPs.

In the Phase 2 draft release, two basins have been elevated in priority from the initial 2015 prioritization and will be required to create GSPs. Twelve basins have been lowered in priority and will not be required to develop GSPs. Of those 12, eight are affected by adjudicated areas, which are not required to develop GSPs and are instead required to submit annual reports to DWR on their groundwater management and monitoring.

The results for Phase 1 and draft Phase 2 require local agencies for 94 basins to develop GSPs.

A 30-day comment period will now be held to invite further input from the public and local agencies. DWR will accept comments on the draft basin prioritization at a public meeting at 1 p.m., Monday, May 13, 2019, at Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, 11020 Sun Center Drive, Suite 200, in Rancho Cordova. The meeting will also be webcast live. Comments can be submitted online at any time during the public comment period, which ends May 30, 2019. All public comments received throughout the process will be reviewed and evaluated before final basin prioritization results are announced.

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