The SGMA is codified as Part 2.74 (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) of the California Water Code (Section 10720 et seq). The regulations adopted to enforce the provisions of the Act are found in Section 350 et seq, Division 2, Chapter 1.5, Subchapter 2 of Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) became effective January 1, 2015. More information can be found on DWR’s website.
In Lassen County, the Act pertains to the Big Valley Groundwater Basin, which has been designated as a “medium priority” basin by the DWR. This designation as a medium priority basin requires preparation of a GSP under the Act. All other groundwater basins in Lassen County, other than Big Valley, are currently designated as “low” or “very low”. This means that, at least for now, no actions are required pursuant to SGMA for any basin other than Big Valley. More information about DWR’s basin prioritization can be found here.
The SGMA was created to ensure groundwater basins throughout the state are managed to reliably meet the needs of all users, while mitigating changes in the quality and quantity of groundwater. The intent of the Act as described in section 10720.1 of the Water Code is to:
- Provide for the sustainable management of groundwater basins.
- Enhance local management of groundwater consistent with rights to use or store groundwater.
- Establish minimum standards for sustainable groundwater management.
- Provide local groundwater agencies with the authority and the technical and financial assistance necessary to sustainably manage groundwater.
- Avoid or minimize subsidence.
- Improve data collection and understanding about groundwater.
- Increase groundwater storage and remove impediments to recharge.
- Manage groundwater basins through the action of local governmental agencies to the greatest extent feasible, while minimizing state intervention to only when necessary to ensure that local agencies manage groundwater in a sustainable manner.
The role of the GSA is to create a GSP and then to implement and enforce that plan. The plan must include measurable objectives that can be used to demonstrate the basin is sustainably managed within 20 years of implementation.