DWR Completes GSP Reviews for High, Medium Priority Basins

  • by Department of Water Resources
  • Jan 18, 2024
  • Water News

SACRAMENTO – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) marked a major milestone in long-term water supply management efforts today with the completion of the review process of groundwater sustainability plans for high and medium priority groundwater basins in the state. The plans were prepared and submitted at the local level for the first time, ensuring that communities near these precious resources have a significant role in ensuring their sustainability.

California’s groundwater basins, which collectively make up a massive underground reservoir, provide a critical water supply for 15.4 million people, especially during dry years when surface water supplies are lacking. As California adapts to a hotter, drier future, these groundwater supplies will become a more vital resource for local water agencies and agriculture.

In 2014, the state legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), establishing a statewide framework to help protect groundwater resources over time. For each high and medium priority basin, local groundwater sustainability agencies are tasked with preparing and implementing groundwater sustainability plans to help ensure current and long-term water supply resiliency for the communities, households, industries, and environmental habitats that are dependent upon them.

Among other issues, the groundwater sustainability plans address overdraft, which is when the average annual amount of groundwater extraction exceeds the long-term average annual supply of water to the basin. Negative effects of overdraft can include seawater intrusion, land subsidence, groundwater depletion, and chronic lowering of groundwater levels. Some basins are at risk of critical overdraft, meaning that the continuation of present water management practices will likely result in significant adverse overdraft-related environmental, social, or economic impacts.

“It is remarkable that now, for the first time under SGMA, groundwater basins that make up 98 percent of the state’s groundwater use are being actively managed by local agencies with locally developed groundwater sustainability plans that have undergone initial review, said Paul Gosselin, Deputy Director of DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office. “Since 2014, local agencies, with state support, have met every ambitious milestone required by SGMA, and with today’s announcement, DWR has met the required deadline to review and issue determinations for all initial groundwater sustainability plans. The work does not stop here and DWR will continue to partner with local agencies to build a more sustainable water future for all Californians.”

In the final round of reviews for 17 plans released today, DWR has approved ten plans, and deemed seven plans incomplete.

DWR has approved plans for the following basins:

  • Anderson
  • Enterprise
  • San Antonio Creek Valley
  • Santa Clara River Valley East
  • Santa Ynez River Valley
  • Solano
  • Temescal
  • Tracy
  • Upper San Luis Rey Valley
  • Yucaipa

DWR has deemed the following basin plans incomplete:

  • Butte Valley
  • Fillmore
  • Modesto
  • Pleasant Valley (Basin No. 5-022.10)
  • Piru
  • Tulelake
  • Turlock

For those basins that have been deemed incomplete, groundwater sustainability agencies have 180 days to revise and resubmit their plans. Upon evaluation of resubmitted plans, DWR will determine that the basin is either approved or inadequate. An inadequate determination will initiate consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board for possible State intervention.

The complete DWR release can be viewed here.

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