The first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans have been released by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). In lieu of waiting until the end of the two-year review period, DWR has decided to release assessments as they are completed. Assessments have been completed for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. Assessments for the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin have also been completed.
“Local management, including development of solutions for the long-term reliability of groundwater, is the cornerstone of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” DWR Director Karla Nemeth said in a press release. “DWR’s evaluation and assessment of groundwater sustainability plans is an important step in the long process of bringing our critical groundwater basins into sustainability, helping to ensure Californians have a reliable water source during drought years and for generations to come.”
The plans for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin have been approved by DWR. Groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) will be working to implement the plans over the coming years to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Plans for the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin were assessed but lack the necessary details for being approved. DWR will be working with the local GSAs to support the necessary improvements needed for the groundwater sustainability plans.
DWR will continue working with GSAs in providing technical assistance and financial support to bring them into compliance with SGMA. GSAs have been tasked with formulating plans to establish balanced levels of groundwater pumping and recharge over the next 20 years. As part of the effort, DWR has recently approved $26 million in grant funding to help implement a variety of projects addressing groundwater needs. Groundwater sustainability plans will continually be updated as hydrology conditions change over time.