In 2014, legislation passed that provides a statewide framework for sustainable groundwater management in California (SB 1168, AB 1739, and SB 1319). This legislation, collectively referred to as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), is intended to support local groundwater management through the oversight of local agencies. An overarching goal of SGMA is to achieve a sustainable groundwater balance in each basin or sub-basin by 2040.
SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results. SGMA then defines “undesirable result” as one or more of the following effects caused by groundwater conditions occurring throughout the basin:
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) also prioritized the alluvial groundwater basins and sub-basins in California for sustainability in 2014. The criteria used to determine the priority included: reliance on groundwater, overlying irrigated acreage, overdraft, and subsidence. Findings from the criteria designated the Madera Sub-basin as high priority, and in August 2015 the Madera Sub-basin was placed on DWR’s Draft List of Critically-Overdrafted Basins.
Local agencies in the Madera Sub-basin, such as the Madera Water District, were required to form groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) by June 30, 2017. As its own GSA, the MWD GSA is required to develop a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP), in collaboration with other GSAs within the Madera Sub-basin, by 2020. During the development and implementation of the GSP, SGMA provides the MWD GSA with the authority to:
SGMA requires that GSPs include prescribed components set forth in State guidelines to achieve sustainable groundwater management to avoid the “undesirable results”. GSPs must also include long-term planning goals, measurable objectives and interim milestones in increments of five years that are designed to achieve the basin’s sustainability goal within 2020 years of GSP implementation.
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© Madera Water District Groundwater Sustainability Agency, 2020