The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced today, March 2, decisions regarding groundwater sustainability planning for 12 critical overdraft groundwater basins in Central California.
The DWR has declared that 6 of its 12 watersheds have not submitted plans to demonstrate sustainability by 2040.
Two of these basins are in Tulea County and cover most of the aquifer. The only basin recommended for approval was the Kings Basin, which covers most of Fresno County and a small portion of Tulea County.
If Tulara County’s GSA is unable to come up with a viable plan to achieve sustainability, management of Tulair County’s groundwater could be handed over to the state.
The two sub-basins that did not receive DWR approval are the Kaweah sub-basin and the Tule sub-basin.
The Tours sub-basin is made up of six Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): Alpo GSA, Delano Arrimat Irrigation Area GSA, Eastern Tuol GSA JPA, Lower Tuol River Irrigation Area GSA, Pixley Irrigation Area GSA, Tori County Water Authority. GSA.
The Kaweah sub-basin comprises the East Kaweah GSA, Greater Kaweah GSA and Mid-Kaweah GSA.
The other four sub-basins at risk of being taken over by the state are the Chowchilla sub-basins in Madera and Merced counties, the San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno, Madera, and Delta Mendota sub-basins in San Benito counties. , and the Lake Tulea sub-basin in Kings County, and the Khan Sub basin in Khan County.
DWR recommended the approval of the following six watersheds that are considered severe overdraft. Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Cuyama Basin in Kerne County, Paso Robles Sub-basin in San Luis Obispo County, East San Joaquin Sub-basin in San Joaquin County, Merced Sub-basin in Merced County, West Side Sub-basin Fresno County and Kings Counties, Fresno’s Kings sub-basin and Tulare county.
Recommended for plan approval, the GSA has conducted critical analyzes of groundwater levels, water quality, and interconnected surface waters to develop and refine sustainable groundwater management standards. Although additional analytical work is required during implementation, DWR has determined that the framework for governance is sufficient under the law.
Watersheds deemed unsuitable by the DWR did not adequately address deficiencies in the way GSA builds sustainable management standards. The Code of Conduct provides operational coverage for how water levels prevent undesirable effects within 20 years, such as overdrafts, land subsidence, and water levels that can affect drinking water wells. These GSAs did not analyze and justify continued water table decline and land subsidence. In addition, the plan did not clearly understand that management standards could have undesirable impacts on groundwater users in watersheds and critical infrastructure.
In January 2022, after a technical evaluation, DWR found the planning of these 12 critical overdraft basins to be incomplete and identified significant deficiencies that prevented their approval. GSA said he had 180 days to correct the deficiencies and per regulations he revised and resubmitted the plan to DWR for re-evaluation.
DWR supports local agencies by providing planning, technical and financial assistance to assist GSA and local communities in this long-term effort to sustainably manage groundwater basins. . Each critically overdrawn watershed received $7.6 million in sustainable groundwater management grants to help implement the plan. Complementary funding programs, such as DWR’s LandFlex program, the state’s Drought Assistance program, and the California Department of Conservation’s Multibenefit Land Repurposing program, are helping the state’s most severely overdraft areas reduce their reliance on groundwater and sustain local sustainability. We are helping you make rapid progress to reach your potential goals.
Out of a total of 94 groundwater basins that need to submit plans under the SGMA, the DWR has made decisions on 24 basins and is currently on state high priority and medium priority groundwater basins submitted to DWR in January 2022. An additional 61 projects from the 59 degree basins are under consideration. DWR plans to issue decisions for the remaining basins in 2023.