The Madera Water District is an agricultural water district and the MWD GSA currently manages only those beneficial uses that are agricultural in nature.

What is SGMA?

In 2014, legislation passed that provides a statewide framework for sustainable groundwater management in California (SB 1168AB 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:

  • Chronic lowering of groundwater levels indicating a significant and unreasonable depletion of supply if continued over the planning and implementation horizon
  • Significant and unreasonable reduction of groundwater storage
  • Significant and unreasonable seawater intrusion
  • Significant and unreasonable degraded water quality, including the migration of contaminant plumes that impair water supplies
  • Significant and unreasonable land subsidence that substantially interferes with surface land uses
  • Depletions of interconnected surface water that has significant and unreasonable adverse impacts on beneficial uses of the surface water


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:

  • Conduct investigations of water rights
  • Require registration of groundwater wells
  • Require well-operators to measure and report extractions
  • Require reporting of diversions of surface water to storage
  • Regulate groundwater extractions, including limiting or prohibiting groundwater production
  • Impose fees and assessments
  • Request revisions of basin boundaries, including establishing new sub-basins
  • Undertake enforcement actions for noncompliance

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.

MWD GSA Governance

GSA Members

  • Madera Water District

    Board of Directors

    • Carl Johnson, President
    • Pat Henry, Secretary
    • Chris Newton, Director
    • Kevin Herman, Director
    • Phil Janzen, Director


      Management/Consultant Team

      • District Manager ‒ John Gies
      • Technical Consultant ‒ Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group
      • Legal Counsel ‒ David Kahn, Esq.


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