The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has issued decisions for groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) for a dozen critically overdrafted groundwater basins. DWR has now provided determinations for 24 of the 94 groundwater basins required to submit plans under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Additional plans from 59 high- and medium-priority basins are currently under review.
In the latest action, approval was given on plans for the Cuyama Basin, Paso Robles Subbasin, Eastern San Joaquin Subbasin, Merced Subbasin, Westside Subbasin, and Kings Subbasin. To remain in an approved status, the basins will need to adhere to recommended corrective actions from DWR. The plans that were submitted were many years in the making.
“We can continue to work on filling data gaps and implementing the GSP,” said Lynn Groundwater, technical consultant with the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA), which is part of the Kings Subbasin. “Implementation includes design and construction of canals throughout MAGSA to be able to utilize surface water especially in wet years like we are having this year to capture flood water when available.”
The six GSPs that were deemed inadequate were Chowchilla Subbasin, Delta-Mendota Subbasin, Kaweah Subbasin, Tule Subbasin, Tulare Lake Subbasin, and Kern Subbasin. DWR indicated that these basins “did not appropriately address deficiencies” in how sustainability would be achieved. The Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) responsible for developing the plans were found to have lacked justification for continued groundwater pumping.
The basins that were found to have inadequate GSPs will now be overseen by the State Water Resources Control Board. If deficiencies are not addressed accordingly, the Board can adopt an interim plan with input from stakeholders. DWR’s SGMA Portal will continually be updated with GSA and plan information, including any Board intervention. Determinations for the remaining basins are expected to be made by DPR throughout the year.