Groundwater Agencies Formulating Plans for SGMA

Groundwater Sustainability Will Be Focus of New Rules

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Groundwater agencies up and down the state are formulating initial plans for growers in their areas to reduce overdraft pumping of groundwater as they prepare for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act regulations that will kick in around 2040. Ron Samuelian is a civil engineer with Provost and Pritchard consulting group, with offices around the state. He spoke with California Ag Today about their role as an engineering firm regarding helping growers with SGMA.

Ground Water Pumps

At the moment, a lot of the work is related to a plan. Using hydrogeology, they are figuring out the water budget, its impact, the amount of overdraft occurred, and how to monitor this in the future.

“But maybe most importantly, how are we going to fix it and what are we going to do about it? I think that is where we really come in. We understand not only ag but, urban and all of the other uses,” Samuelian said.

The goal of SGMA is to be in balance in 2040.

“In terms of sustainability over time, we have seen a decline in our water table. At a given well, the water level might bounce up and down, but the general trend has been to decline a 1 to 5 feet a year, depending on location,” Samuelian explained.

In 2040, the trend is supposed to be flat.

Salinas Valley SGMA Agency Progresses

Salinas Valley SGMA Agency Development Makes Headway

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) empowers local agencies to adopt groundwater management plans that are customized to the resources and needs of their communities. All such designated groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) in the State’s high- and medium-priority groundwater basins and subbasins must be identified by June 30, 2017.

 

A GSA is responsible for developing and implementing a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to meet the sustainability goal of the basin to ensure that it is operated within its sustainable yield, without causing undesirable results. The GSP Emergency Regulations for evaluating GSPs, the implementation of GSPs, and coordination agreements were adopted by DWR and approved by the California Water Commission on May 18, 2016.

 

“We’re coming down to the wire pretty quickly,” commented Norm Groot, executive director of the Monterey County Farm Bureau in Salinas. “We’re moving forward with our SGMA implementation and moving closer to a proposal for our groundwater sustainability agency. We hope to have something presentable to the public entities sometime this fall.”

 

“We are meeting with stakeholders in the Valley and hopefully we can move forward with some of the solidification of the proposals and get into the nitty-gritty details of how to work that particular agency through the process,” Groot continued. “We have options to either take an agency that we have here in our county and rework it legislatively, or perhaps create a brand new agency. It just depends on the complexities of that particular issue based on the proposal that we come up with,” said Groot.

 

Groot noted local agricultural leaders have proposals on the table and various different options are under consideration. “The complexity of reworking an existing agency through a legislative process is rather daunting,” explained Groot. “The complexity of creating a new agency from the scratch is also very daunting and probably very expensive.”

 

Certainly any of these proposals under scrutiny will not be approved overnight. “It’s going to take some thought; some time, effort, and energy; and definitely some money to do,” said Groot.


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