Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
View of a groundwater well.
Overview | Timelines | Resources
SGMA and the Montecito Groundwater Basin
Statewide, agencies are being formed to provide for local, collaborative, and sustainable groundwater management.
Montecito Water District has initiated the process to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency
(GSA) with the goal of enhancing groundwater management capabilities in the Montecito Groundwater Basin.
California's groundwater provides approximately half of the state's water supply, and in some parts
of Santa Barbara County (County), is the sole source of water to sustain agriculture and domestic uses.
In other areas of the County, groundwater is an integral part of multi-source water supply portfolios
and is critical in times of prolonged drought. Unlike surface supplies, groundwater aquifers are not
subject to losses due to evaporation.
Many California aquifers are adversely impacted by overuse. Such impacts include significant decline
in water storage and water levels, degradation of water quality, and land subsidence resulting in the
permanent loss of storage capacity. Recognizing the importance of groundwater and the consequences of
overuse, Governor Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. signed into law a package of bills addressing the sustainable
management of groundwater in California. colorlectively, these bills are the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA).
The SGMA took effect on January 1, 2015, and requires all groundwater basins designated as medium or
high priority by the Department of Water Resources to be sustainably managed by the year 2042.
The Department of Water Resources' designation is based on several factors, including population,
number of wells, irrigated area, and groundwater conditions.
Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA). The SGMA encourages the formation of
local groundwater sustainability agencies for the purpose of implementing the SGMA requirements.
Groundwater sustainability agencies can consist of a local agency or combination of agencies that
have water supply, water management, or land use responsibilities in the basin. The SGMA empowers
groundwater sustainability agencies with certain financial, regulatory, and enforcement abilities
but does not allow them to determine water rights.
Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP). The SGMA requires the development of groundwater
sustainability plans. Groundwater sustainability plans must result in "sustainable conditions"
in the basin, which are defined by the SGMA as the avoidance of significant negative impacts,
such as chronic overdraft, worsening water quality, surface water depletions, sea water intrusion
(in coastal basins), and land subsidence. Groundwater sustainability plans require detailed technical
information to define the basin and aquifer conditions, including historic and current water
upply and use, water quality conditions, and projected water demands. Plans must also include
measurable objectives and interim milestones to meet on the way to achieving sustainability
within 20 years.
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES (DWR)
Basin reprioritization, originally scheduled for June, 2017, is delayed and DWR
has not confirmed a new timeline. Note that this does not impact Montecito Water
District's plans at this time.
SGMA Process: Timeline Overview
- November - DWR issues basin prioritization for CASGEM Program
- January 1 - SGMA Legislation takes effect
- June 30 - GSA formation required for medium and high priority basins
- Also in June, DWR to issue re-analysis of basin prioritization
- GSPs must be adopted for critically over-drafted basins
- GSPs must be adopted for medium and high priority basins
- All critically over-drafted basins must achieve sustainability
- All medium and high priority basins must achieve sustainability
MONTECITO GROUNDWATER BASIN (MGWB)
MGWB Process: Timeline Overview
- January 1 - SGMA Legislation takes effect
- October 19 - MWD Board directs staff to initiate GSA formation
- Community Engagement
- Fall/Winter, MWD Board consideration of Resolution to be GSA
- Winter/Spring - MWD to file for GSA status
- Summer - DWR approves MWD as GSA
- Summer/Fall - MWD initiates GSP
- DWR to conduct Basin Boundary Modification process
- GSPs to be adopted and implementation to begin
MWD SGMA Library:
BASIN BOUNDARY MODIFICATION