With policymakers increasingly focused on declining groundwater basins in parts of the state, discussions about new approaches to groundwater management are heating up in Sacramento.
The Association of California Groundwater Agencies (ACWA) last week released a number of recommendations to improve the management of groundwater basins. “Sustainability” is a key word in the conversation. ACWA’s recommendations focus on legislative and administrative changes that “strengthen” groundwater management and accountability. The report, “Recommendations for Achieving Groundwater Sustainability,” recognizes that most groundwater basins in the state are under sound local and regional management while some are not. In those areas, the stresses on groundwater resources, exacerbated by the drought, are having devastating effects on other users within the same basin or neighboring basins.
Separately, the California Water Foundation is drafting a policy proposal for the Brown Administration and the state Legislature on groundwater management reform. In February, the Foundation established a steering committee of water agency, industry and environmental representatives to help inform its work. The steering committee continues to meet as discussions center on a new model that establishes basin management milestones for high- and medium-priority basins, empowers local agencies to create and execute basin- or sub-basin plans with technical assistance from the Department of Water Resources, and requires intervention by the State Water Resources Control Board when local agencies fail to meet milestones.
The emerging recommendations seek to achieve sustainable management policies that prepare for future droughts; avoid future land subsidence; protect water quality and the environment; reduce conflict among water users, and enhance the use of groundwater as a valuable source of water storage.
Governor Brown’s Administration is also holding public meetings on the subject and is serious about addressing the problem.
For more details read “Changes Coming to Groundwater Management,” in the April edition of WG&S Magazine.
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