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- SGMA: Groundwater Management
SGMA: Groundwater Management
SGMA and the Montecito Groundwater Basin
Statewide, agencies are being formed to provide for local, collaborative, and sustainable groundwater management in accordance with the State of California's 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
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 such as evaporation and spill.
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. Collectively, these bills are the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
SGMA took effect on January 1, 2015, and requires all groundwater basins designated as medium or high priority by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to be sustainably managed by the year 2042. DWR's designation is based on several factors, including population, number of wells, irrigated area, and groundwater conditions.
Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA)
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. 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)
SGMA requires the development of groundwater sustainability plans. Groundwater sustainability plans must result in "sustainable conditions" in the basin, which are defined by 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 supply 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.
- Montecito Groundwater Basin is designated "Medium Priority."
- A Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) has been formed to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP), in compliance with SGMA.
Q What is SGMA?
SGMA is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which was enacted in 2014 and became effective January 1, 2015. SGMA is important because it requires the regulation of groundwater for the first time in California’s history and provides new authority to local agencies to implement these requirements. The intent of SGMA is to strengthen local management of specified groundwater basins that are most critical to the state’s water needs by regulating groundwater use.
Q Must Montecito Groundwater Basin (MGWB) comply with SGMA?
Yes. The State has identified MGWB as “Medium Priority,” which means compliance with SGMA is required.
Q Who will implement SGMA in the Montecito Groundwater Basin?
Local public agencies with water supply, water management, and / or land use responsibility within a basin may form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to manage groundwater. Montecito Water District initiated formation of a GSA for the Montecito Groundwater Basin.
The State Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) are the state agencies in charge of ensuring that SGMA is implemented. The State Water Board will take over groundwater management in medium or high priority basins if local agencies are unable or unwilling to implement SGMA.
Q What is a groundwater basin?
A groundwater basin is an area underlain by permeable materials (e.g., sand) that is capable of storing and providing a significant supply of groundwater to wells. DWR has ranked 127 basins throughout the state as medium or high priority and, thus, subject to SGMA.
Q What does sustainable management mean?
Simply put, sustainable groundwater management means managing our water supply, while balancing the needs of our economy, environment and health and safety. Specifically, SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as “…the management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.” Undesirable results are defined as any of the following:
- Chronic lowering of Groundwater levels
- Significant and unreasonable reduction in Groundwater Storage
- Significant and unreasonable degradation of water quality
- Land subsidence due to collapsing of aquifer pore space
- Surface water depletions that have significant and unreasonable impacts on beneficial uses
- Seawater Intrusion
Q Why do we need to manage groundwater?
Groundwater is an essential part of the local water supply portfolio, and a critical part of drought and emergency response. Prudent groundwater management will provide a safeguard against prolonged drought and climate change and contribute to a reliable source of water supplies for future generations. Lack of proactive management could result in failure of public and/or private water wells, and jeopardize supply.
Q What does a Groundwater Sustainability Agency do?
The primary purpose of a GSA under SGMA is to develop and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) to achieve long-term groundwater sustainability. GSAs are empowered to utilize a number of new management tools to achieve the sustainability goal, such as: register and meter groundwater wells, mandate annual extraction and water level reports from individual wells, impose limits on extractions, mitigate against overdrafts, implement rules and regulations, and assess fees to support creation and implementation of a GSP.
Q What is a Groundwater Sustainability Plan?
A Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is the state-mandated plan to sustainably manage groundwater. Each GSP will contain an assessment of each basin under past and future conditions, and will also include any necessary monitoring, management, enforcement, and other requirements to achieve sustainability
Q Who will be involved in developing the GSPs?
GSAs are ultimately responsible for developing GSPs, but SGMA is clear that GSAs must involve stakeholders in developing GSPs. The District will retain an interested parties list for the Montecito Groundwater Basin, and will continue to ensure opportunities for participation and input from stakeholders interested in this issue as GSPs are developed.
Q When do these regulations take effect?
SGMA took effect on January 1, 2015, although there are no immediate changes to groundwater use. SGMA requires that local agencies determine whether they would like to elect to become a GSA by June 30, 2017. A GSP must be adopted by 2020 for critically over-drafted basins, and 2022 for other medium and high priority basins. Finally, it provides time (20 years from the time a GSP is implemented) to take the actions necessary to achieve sustainability.
Q Is there a cost to SGMA?
There are costs to develop a GSP, and possibly, to implement the changes in water use that may be required by SGMA. Those costs will be evaluated by the GSA.
Q What is next for SGMA?
The Montecito Groundwater Basin GSA is formed, and held its first meeting on April, 2019. The GSA will be developing a GSP.
Department of Water Resources (DWR)
Montecito Groundwater Basin, formerly ranked as very low priority is now ranked as medium-priority. This ranking requires GSA formation and GSP implementation for state compliance. For more information, go to https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/Basin-Prioritization.
SGMA Process: Timeline Overview
- November - DWR issues basin prioritization for CASGEM Program
- September 3 - SGMA Bill package passed the California legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown
- January 1 - SGMA Legislation takes effect
- June 30 - GSA formation required for medium and high priority basins
- May 2018 - DWR's 2018 Draft Prioritization Issued: Montecito Groundwater Basin ranked as medium-priority. (Formerly very low-priority)
- GSPs must be adopted for critically over-drafted basins
2022 (2024 for MGWB)
- 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)
Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Formed
First Meeting Held April 29, 2019
Next Steps: Community Engagement and Preparation of GSP
MGWB Process: Timeline Overview
- January 1 - SGMA Legislation takes effect
- October 19 - MWD Board directs staff to initiate GSA formation
- Community Engagement (Public Workshops March & November)
- Fall/Winter, MWD Board consideration of Resolution to be GSA
- Intent to form GSA (Resolution 2169 ) approved at Public Hearing, July 24, 2018
- Basin Boundary Modification confirmed by DWR
- MGWB reprioritized as "Medium" by DWR
- MWD filed for GSA status
- DWR designated MWD as exclusive GSA
- GSA to initiate GSP development
- GSA to submit GSP to DWR
- GSPs to be adopted and implementation to begin
RESOURCES: MWD SGMA Library
- Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (DWR web site)
- November 29, 2018 Montecito Water District declared exclusive GSA by DWR
- Public Workshops
- July 24, 2018 Public Hearing on GSA Formation
- November 16, 2017 Public Workshop: Update on SGMA and GSA Formation
- March 2, 2017 Public Workshop on SGMA and GSA Formation
Basin Boundary Modification
- Basin Boundary Modification Approved Final Decision February 11, 2019
- Resolution 2163 A Resolution of the Board of Directors of the Montecito Water District to submit an application to the Department of Water Resources Basin Boundary Modification Process for Montecito Groundwater Basin (adopted April 17, 2018)
- Basin Boundary Modification Map
- August 23, 2017 Board Meeting Agenda Item 4. E.
- General information on DWR SGMA Portal
- Initial Notification Submittal
- MOU with Carpinteria Valley Water District
- SGMA Definitions
- Proposed Basin Boundary Emergency Regulations
- Groundwater Glossary
- California's Groundwater - Bulletin 118 / Interim Update 2016
- State of California's Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management web site
- State of California SGMA brochure
- Association of California Water Agencies SGMA brochure
SGMA UPDATES: E-Newsletter Archives
- SGMA UPDATES April 30, 2019
- SGMA UPDATES April 12, 2019
- SGMA UPDATES December 3, 2018
- Letter from the General Manager, October 26, 2018
- SGMA UPDATES September 27, 2018
- SGMA UPDATES August 17, 2018
- SGMA UPDATES June 29, 2018
- SGMA UPDATES June 22, 2018
- SGMA UPDATES May 21, 2018
- SGMA UPDATES November 14, 2017
- SGMA UPDATES October 20, 2017
- SGMA UPDATES August 21, 2017