Groundwater management law in California previously authorized certain local agencies to adopt and implement a groundwater management plan.  Local agencies seeking State funds from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for groundwater projects and groundwater quality projects were required to prepare and implement a groundwater management plan that included basin management objectives for the basin.  

A concerted effort took place during the latter part of 2014 to develop and enact changes to California groundwater management law.  In the last days of the 2014 Legislative Session, the Senate and Assembly approved a three-bill package of bills to advance the sustainable management of groundwater.  Governor Brown signed the bills on September 16, 2014.  The three bills enact the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA).  Senate Bill 1168 (Pavley) includes provisions related to establishing groundwater sustainability agencies and the adoption of groundwater sustainability plans, while Assembly Bill 1739 (Dickinson) includes provisions related to implementation tools and enforcement.  Senate Bill 1319 (Pavley) is a “clean-up” bill that contains language changes by the Brown Administration requested too late to be amended into either of the two primary bills.

SGMA provides a framework for sustainable management of groundwater supplies by local authorities, with a role for State intervention if necessary to protect the resource.  SGMA also required the formation of local groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) that are responsible for the adoption and implementation of management plans to achieve long-term groundwater sustainability, by June 30, 2017.  It is estimated that over 95 percent of the affected basins met this deadline; the next milestones are in 2020 and 2022, when critically over drafted and over drafted basins must have adopted management plans to achieve sustainability by 2040.

RCRC will closely monitor and participate in the development of policy and regulations that implement the Groundwater Management Act. 

Staff:  Mary-Ann Warmerdam