In today’s Water Works, brought to you by AquiMax, communities throughout California are in the midst of developing sustainability plans through local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) that was passed in 2014. The newly created agencies are taking input from various sectors of the community on what the plans will look like, and it is important that the agricultural perspective is included.
“We’ve come across here recently, where some guys weren’t part of a GSA and they need to be. You need to be in your local agency, whoever that may be, maybe it’s run by the local irrigation district or water district,” said President and CEO of Western Agricultural Processors Association Roger Isom. “You’ve got to be in that because the plans are going to start to be developed over the next two years.”
Now in the planning phase, individual agencies are collecting hydrogeological data regarding the groundwater condition of their basin. Official plans for basins that have been identified as critically over-drafted will need to be in place by January 31, 2020. High and medium priority basins will have until January 31, 2022, to adopt plans.
Isom cited an instance of farmers not participating in their local planning process, which could create significant issues in the future deployment of requirements set forth by the GSA. “We have one up north, where the city of Chico was basically writing the program for growers. And that’s not going to work, we need to have growers at the table,” Isom said.
The importance of agricultural involvement in the planning process for groundwater sustainability is further emphasized by the timing of the state’s proposed plan to reduce the amount of surface water available. Isom highlighted the magnitude of increasing regulations on groundwater and surface water at approximately the same time. “It is going to have a dramatic impact on those reservoirs and water delivery to farms, and to cities and everybody else.”
Listen to the report below.