At last week’s meeting of the California Water Commission, Mark Norberg of the Department of Water Resources, provided an update of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  Overall, local agencies did a great job of meeting the deadline to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) with 99.9 percent of the basins subject to SGMA covered by a GSA.  

Of the area not covered, it was described as either a “fringe area” not covered by a local agency, or were not part of an adjudicated basin.  Under SGMA, counties were given the authority to cover these unmanaged areas and, for the most part, counties stepped into this role.

In summary:

  • 265 GSA notifications were received by DWR reflecting a wide range of organizational structures and size.
  • 141 basins have GSAs.  Of these, 108 are subject to SGMA.  The remaining 33 were low or very low priority.
  • 22 basins submitted alternative plans with 11 having GSA coverage and 9 without a GSA.

It was also noted that DWR continues to provide financial assistance.  Proposition 1 provided $101 million for competitive grants to develop implementation plans.  In 2015, $6.7 million was awarded to counties with stressed groundwater basins.

Last Fall, a grant proposal was announced making $86.3 million available – of that, $10 million was dedicated to those communities that are severely disadvantaged.  Applications were due at the end of 2017, and 78 applications were received for a total of $86.4 million.  Of that, $69.6 million was received from GSAs for GSP development, and $16.8 million was requested by those communities/areas that met the definition of severely disadvantaged.  DWR is currently reviewing the grant applications and, according to DWR staff, expect most funding requests to be successful.