Interim Update To Bulletin 118

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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.