Courtesy of California Water Boards

Historic process underway to protect vital groundwater resources

The State Water Resources Control Board today will conduct an in-person workshop at the Hanford Civic Auditorium from 6-8:30 p.m. on a draft report recommending actions for the board at an upcoming hearing for the Tulare Lake Subbasin under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). During the workshop, State Water Board staff will begin accepting public comments at 7 p.m.

Tulare Lake is the first groundwater basin to be scheduled for a probationary hearing, which is set for April 16, 2024. Its groundwater sustainability plan, submitted by the basin’s groundwater sustainability agencies to fulfill SGMA’s requirements, was deemed inadequate in March by the Department of Water Resources.

Passed by the state Legislature in 2014, SGMA established a new framework for how groundwater would be managed locally at the basin scale to achieve long-term sustainability and preserve California’s at-risk groundwater resources for future generations. The board’s role in this process is to intervene and manage groundwater resources where local sustainability agencies cannot ensure that a basin will be brought into sustainable use within the 20-year timeline required by the legislation.

The 176-page draft staff report provides background on the requirements of SGMA, details how human activity over the past century has impacted the hydrology of the Tulare Lake basin, and lists recommendations for board action. An 11-page Executive Summary is also available for the public to review. If the board votes to place the basin on probation, the agencies that submitted the original sustainability plan will have 12 months to revise their plan.

Address of the workshop: Hanford Civic Auditorium, 400 N Douty St., Hanford, CA 93230

Time: 6-8:30 p.m., with public comments accepted beginning at 7 p.m.