Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) Compliance

California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) requires all groundwater basins designated as medium or high priority to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) to achieve sustainable management by 2040-2042. Basin priorities are assigned by the California Department of Water Resources based on multiple factors, including population, land use, and basin conditions.

Low or very low priority basins are not required to develop a GSP at this time, although implementing SGMA requirements would provide otherwise unavailable groundwater management tools. Adjudicated basins are not required to comply with SGMA, as they are already under a court-ordered sustainability plan, although some basic reporting is expected. Recent legislation requires conducting some SGMA activities even where parties are pursuing adjudication.

Dudek is leading the development of GSPs for:

  • Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency in Ventura
  • the County of San Diego and Borrego Valley Water District.
Dudek also has provided consulting for GSA formation, basin boundary modification and basin reprioritization for:
  •  the Santa Barbara County Water Agency
  • Borrego Valley Water District
  •  Montecito Water Distirct.

What expertise is necessary to develop GSPs?

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) will face inter-disciplinary challenges to implement these plans. Dudek offers the following integrated services for successfully developing GPSs:

  • Hydrogeology: GSP requirements include extensive technical information used to characterize the geologic setting and develop historical and future water budgets in groundwater basins.  Sustainabile management criteria will be determined using available hydrologic data.
  • Planning: GSPs may have substantial effects on long-term land use planning because of the water-land-use nexus.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Stakeholder engagement is required by SGMA and is fundamental for GSP success.  Dudek's experts have extensive experience facilitiating public outreach for Integrated Regional Water Management programs, GSP, and GSA formation.
  • Grant Funding Support: The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has a grant program for GSP development.  Dudek has successfully secured multiple DWR grants for public agencies, including grants for GSA formation.  Grant guidelines are available and a solictation for GSP grants is expected by the summer of 2017.
  • Biology: During GSP development, GSAs must consider and describe impacts to Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) due to groundwater extraction.
  • Data Management:  Each GSA will need a data management system to store and report data used to develop the GSP and to monitor the groundwater basin.
  • Engineering and CEQA: In many basins, it is possible that new infrastructure projects will be needed to meet long-term water supply reliability and sustainabiltiy goals.

What are the required components of a GSP?

Administrative Information
- Current land uses and demographics
- Water provisions in relevant city and county General Plans
- Existing stakeholder groups and water management programs

Public and Stakeholder Outreach
- Public notification and participation
- Representation of beneficial uses and users
- Active participation of a diverse group of interested parties

Basin Setting
- Geologic setting
- Climate and surface hydrology
- Current groundwater conditions (2015 baseline)
- A historical and a projected future water budget

Sustainable Management Criteria
- Sustainability goal
- Undesirable results (in six defined categories)
- Minimum thresholds and measurable objectives
- Interim milestones

Monitoring Networks
- Annual monitoring plan
- Identification of data gaps
- Recommendations and/pr planned improvements to existing monitoring networks

Projects and Management Actions
- Description of each project necessary to achieve the sustainability goal
- Adaptive projects that may be initiated in response to changing conditions and/or unmet interim milestones
- May include projects already under consideration or in development

Data Management System
- Must be compatible with existing state databases
- May be a tool for compiling and reviewing data necessary for GSP
- May be GIS-based