DWR Release Draft Funding Recommendations for Prop 1 – 2017 GSP and Projects Solicitation

The California Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) announced on February 6, 2018, the release of Draft Funding Recommendations for the 2017 Groundwater Sustainability Plans and Projects Solicitation under the Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program. DWR received 78 proposals and all were recommended for award, totaling approximately $85.8 million.

The North Fork Kings Groundwater Sustainability Agency and the Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency each submitted a project proposal on behalf their respective groundwater subbasins – the Kings Subbasin and Tulare Lake Subbasin. Per Bulletin 118, the Kings Subbasin and Tulare Lake Subasin are designated as ‘High Priority’ Basins and ‘Subject to Critical Conditions of Overdraft’. Both Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”) were each recommended to receive $1.5 million to develop Groundwater Sustainability Plan(s) (“GSP”) for their groundwater subbasins, pending a public comment period.

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), signed into law in 2014, directs local public agencies and GSAs to development and implement a GSP or alternative plan. The GSP defines the basin setting and establishes criteria that will maintain or achieve sustainable groundwater management over a 20-40 year horizon. SGMA requires critically-overdrafted high and medium priority basins to be managed under a GSP by January 31, 2020.

Information on the Draft Funding Recommendations and public comment submittal may be accessed through the DWR website.

DWR Releases Final Groundwater Sustainability Plans and Projects PSP

DWR logo

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the final version of the 2017 Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) and Projects Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) for the Sustainable Groundwater Planning (SGWP) Grant Program, funded by the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1).

Proposition 1 authorized $100 million for competitive grants for projects that develop and implement groundwater plans and projects. Of that, at least 10% ($10 million) is made available to projects that serve Severely Disadvantaged Communities (SDACs).

DWR will solicit proposals to award funding on a competitive basis in two funding categories. A minimum cost share of 50% of the total project cost is required, though the cost share requirement for projects benefitting a SDAC, DAC, or EDA may be waived or reduced:

Table 1 – Funding Information for 2017 SGWP Grant Solicitation
Funding Category Total Funding Maximum Grant Amount*
Category 1 (SDAC Projects)

At least $10 million

$1 million per project
Category 2


Tier 1

(Critically Over Drafted Basins)

At least $15 million

$1.5 million per basin
Tier 2

(Medium & High Priority Basins)

$1 million per basin
*Minimum grant amount that can be requested is $50,000.

Eligible applicants for Category 1 funding includes: public agencies, non-profit organizations, public utilities, federally recognized Indian tribes, California Native American Tribes, and mutual water companies.

Eligible applicants for Category 2 funding includes: Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) or member agencies of the GSAs for the basin for which the application is submitted. The applicant for basins with an Alternative must be the local agency who submitted the Alternative. Only one application will be accepted per basin. However, an applicant acting as the sole GSA over multiple basins must submit one consolidated application and may request up to $500,000 total for any and all additional basins, in addition to the maximum grant amount.

Eligible project types for Category 1 includes technical and planning assistance and other projects including, but not limited to feasibility studies, design and environmental planning, and meter installation on groundwater production wells.

Eligible project types for Category 2 include those activities associated with the planning, development, or preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP).

The release of the Final Groundwater Sustainability Plans and Projects Proposal Solicitation Package on September 8, 2017 initiates the Open Filing period for Phase 1 of this solicitation. The end of Phase 1 Open Filing is November 10, 2017. Applications must be submitted via GRanTS.

The Final PSP, public comments on the draft, and Frequently Asked Questions are can be found at:



UC Berkeley CLEE Report – Trading Sustainably: Critical Considerations for Local Groundwater Markets Under SGMA

UC Berkeley CLEE

The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) calls for the creation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and tasks them with developing and implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) to achieve sustainable groundwater management. Because SGMA allows GSAs to assign groundwater extraction allocations to pumpers within their jurisdictions and to authorize transfers of these allocations under certain circumstances, it potentially opens the door for the development of local groundwater markets. However, SGMA does not provide guidance about when such markets might be useful and appropriate management tools. A report, Trading Sustainably: Critical Considerations for Local Groundwater Markets Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, by the Wheeler Water Institute within the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law outlines a set of considerations designed to help decision makers and stakeholders evaluate whether and under what conditions a local groundwater market might be a viable tool. Considerations for developing a groundwater market are organized into three groups:

  • Foundational considerations – These considerations relate to measuring groundwater extractions, setting overall pumping limits, and establishing individual groundwater extraction allocations.
  • Market-specific considerations – These considerations relate to market goals, groundwater rights questions, the potential impacts of trading, trading rules, and the trading system and transfer approval process.
  • General considerations – These considerations relate to establishing and maintaining a monitoring system, oversight and enforcement authority to ensure program compliance, evaluate program effectiveness, address problems by making needed changes, and maintain transparency and public engagement throughout.

The report also discusses legal ambiguities and other sources of uncertainty that may present challenges for those seeking clarity about market programs.

The Trading Sustainably: Critical Considerations for Local Groundwater Markets Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act report is available here.

More information may be obtained from Nell Green Nylen, Senior Research Fellow, Wheeler Water Institute, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at ngreennylen@berkeley.edu.

DWR Releases Water Available For Replenishment Report

DWR logo

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announces release of the draft “Water Available for Replenishment” report. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 directed DWR to develop a report on estimates of water available for replenishment of groundwater.

As stated in a news release, the report separates the state into 10 regions and analyzes water supply and demand in each region in order to estimate how much surface water could be available to replenish groundwater basins. The draft report shows that limited water is available for aquifer recharge in many regions of the state, especially in the Tulare Basin of the southern San Joaquin Valley where an estimated amount of water available for recharge is 50,000 acre-feet a year as compared to the Sacramento River Region where approximately 640,000 acre-feet a year is available for replenishment. The report also considers several factors that could potentially affect the amount of water available for replenishment including existing flow requirements for streams, potential new infrastructure to divert water, and the ability of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project to continue capture and delivery of norther rivers.

The report found that bringing local groundwater basins into sustainable balance would require investments and innovations in integrated water management including conservation, storm water capture, recycling, desalination, water transfers, diversion, conveyance and storage.

Leaders of groundwater sustainability agencies will be able to use the report as a guidance document for developing their groundwater sustainability plans that are due in 2020 for critically overdrafted basins and 2022 for all remaining high and medium priority basins.

The draft “Water Available for Replenishment” report is available here.

DWR seeks public comment on the draft Water Available for Replenishment report through March 10, 2017. Comments may be submitted at sgmps@water.ca.gov with the subject line heading, “Public Comments on WAFR.”

For more information on the development of the report and stakeholder involvement, go to http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/wafr.cfm.

Interim Update To Bulletin 118


The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued an interim update to its Bulletin 118 series, California Groundwater, with key information to  help local agencies meet requirements and deadlines under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014Bulletin 118 is California’s official compendium of the occurrence and nature of groundwater statewide.

Although a comprehensive update of Bulletin 118 is scheduled for 2020, as stated in a DWR press release, SGMA requirements and deadlines made it necessary to provide an interim update.

The update provides Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with three critical pieces of information to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) or alternatives to GSPs – groundwater basins in critical overdraft, modifications to basin boundaries, and the priority ranking of groundwater basins.

The reassessment of the prioritization of California’s groundwater basins is still underway at the time of this 2016 interim update. This update will be amended in 2017 to include the approach for, and results of, the basin prioritization at the completion of that effort. The basin priority update process will include public meetings and workshops to solicit public input, and is expected to be complete in late 2017. More information about the reprioritization of California’s groundwater basins is available at http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/SGM_BasinPriority.cfm

Under SGMA, groundwater sustainability agencies must be established for all groundwater basins that DWR has identified as high and medium priority by June 30, 2017. SGMA also requires that basins subject to critical conditions of overdraft, as classified in Bulletin 118, be covered by GSPs or their equivalent by January 31, 2020.  GSPs, or their equivalent, must be established for all other high and medium priority basins by January 31, 2022.

DWR Publishes SGMA Best Management Practices

DWR logo

Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), DWR is required to publish Best Management Practices (BMPs) on its website by January 1, 2017. On December 27, DWR published the Best Management Practices (BMPs), a series of five documents that provide regulatory clarification, technical guidance, and general examples to assist groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and inform local agencies and stakeholders.

The Groundwater Sustainability Plan Emergency Regulations define BMPs as the following: “Best management practice” refers to a practice, or combination of practices, that are designed to achieve sustainable groundwater management and have been determined to be technologically and economically effective, practicable, and based on best available science. –GSP Regulations §351(h)

The BMP topics include the following:

BMP 1: Monitoring Protocols, Standards, and Sites

BMP 2: Monitoring Networks and Identification of Data Gaps

BMP 3: Hydrogeological Conceptual Model

BMP 4: Water Budget

BMP 5: Modeling

In addition to the topics addressed in the BMPs, DWR also drafted Guidance Documents for topic areas unique to SGMA, including a preparation checklist for submitting a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) to DWR and a GSP annotated outline.

All available information can be downloaded here: http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/bmps.cfm

DWR Releases DRAFT SGMA BMP & Guidance Documents


DWR has elected to publish two categories of information that can assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) with developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). DWR has developed draft Best Management Practices (BMPs) and draft Guidance Documents addressing the sustainable management of groundwater – all available information can be downloaded here: http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/bmps.cfm.

BMPs are intended to provide clarification, guidance, and examples to help GSAs develop the essential elements of a GSP. Draft BMP topics include the following:

Guidance Documents provide suggestions, with supporting graphics, for developing certain GSP components where no establish practice in the water management industry exists. Draft Guidance Documents include the following:

The comment period for BMPs will take place between October 28, 2016, and November 28, 2016. There are several options to provide comments to DWR including:

    • At a Public Meeting – Via Comment Card
    • Via Email – to sgmps@water.ca.gov
    • Mail to – California Department of Water Resources, Attn: Lauren Bisnett, Public Affairs, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236

It should be noted that BMPs and Guidance Documents do not serve as a substitute for the GSP Regulations or the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

SWRCB To Host SGMA Fees Public Meeting