DWR White Paper – Flood-MAR

California’s increasingly extreme weather conditions highlight the imperative need to rehabilitate and modernize California’s water and flood infrastructure. The California Department of Water Resources released a white paper that explores flood managed aquifer recharge (“Flood-MAR). Flood-MAR is an integrated and voluntary resource management strategy that uses flood water resulting from, or in anticipation of, rainfall or snowmelt for groundwater recharge on agricultural lands and working landscapes, including but not limited to refuges, floodplains, and flood bypasses. This white paper also explores opportunities and partnerships to determine how flood and groundwater management can be integrated for multiple benefits.

Link to the white paper: DWR Flood-MAR

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

On April 4, 2018, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released Final Funding Awards for the 2017 Groundwater Sustainability Plans and Projects Solicitation under the Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program. The final awards were given to 78 grant applicants totaling $85.8 million.

The North Fork Kings GSA and Mid-Kings River GSA were each awarded $1.5 million under funding Category 2 for the development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) in the Kings and Tulare Lake Subbassins. Funding awarded to the North Fork Kings GSA will support the development of seven separate, but coordinated GSPs for the Kings Subbasin. Respectively, the Mid-Kings River GSA will administer grant funds to develop a single GSP for the Tulare Lake Subbasin.

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 Final Funding Recommendations may be accessed through the DWR website.

UC Berkeley CLEE Report – Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

UC Berkeley CLEE

A new report,Navigating Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” by the Wheeler Water Institute, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law, examines the challenges and risks to Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) in developing and implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) that address the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Conflict between surface and groundwater users have been occurring for decades, but SGMA may offer GSAs an opportunity to help communities and other stakeholders respond to those challenges and resolve longstanding issues.

The UC Water and the Wheeler Water Institute convened two workshops at UC Berkeley School of Law in June and July 2017. The discussion and additional research by the authors serve as the basis for this report which strives to examine the legal questions facing GSAs as they work to meet the requirements of SGMA. This report may provide guidance for practitioners, including groundwater managers and state agency staff, to manage groundwater-surface water interactions proactively and effectively.

Link to the report: Navigating Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

More information may be obtained from Mike Kiparsky, Director of Wheeler Water Institute, Center for Law, Energy & Environment; kiparsky@berkeley.edu; (510) 643-6044.

Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans

The Nature Conservancy released a new guidance document, “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans,” to help agencies, consultants, and stakeholders efficiently incorporate groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) into Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). The following summary is taken from the Overview of the report –

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) contains specific requirements that groundwater sustainability agencies identify and consider impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and to incorporate GDEs into GSPs. This document provides a systematic and defensible approach to identify GDEs, determine whether potential effects on GDEs are occurring or may occur due to groundwater conditions, and consider GDEs when setting sustainable management criteria.

This guidance document is structured to answer the following five key questions:

1. Where are GDEs?
2. Are GDEs being impacted by current groundwater conditions, and could they be impacted by future groundwater conditions?
3. How can management achieve sustainability and avoid adverse impacts to GDEs?
4. How can progress and success be tracked through a monitoring network?
5. What actions can be taken to achieve sustainability?

Although seemingly structured as a linear step-by-step process, it is intended that SGMA practitioners and stakeholders apply adaptive management to begin with the best available information to make initial decisions, monitor the results of those decisions, and use the data collected through monitoring to revise decisions in the future.

Link to the full report: Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans

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

(GSPs)

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 can be found at:

http://www.water.ca.gov/irwm/grants/sgwp/solicitation.cfm

 

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

new_dwr_logo2

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.