Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

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RECENT UPDATES: 

* February 2017: GSA Prospective Board Workshop

In February 2017, prospective board members and alternates for the recommended 16-member GSA board for the Solano Subbasin came together to learn about SGMA, the recommended governance structure and guiding principles, next steps, and public input received to date. This was an informational workshop and not a decision-making forum. The material covered was similar to the December public input meetings, with a few updates from prospective member agencies and financial estimates. Most notable is the recent decision of the Solano Irrigation District to file a GSA application for their portion of the subbasin (not including areas within city limits). After a public hearing in January about this GSA proposal, SID submitted an application to DWR in February. They are still in conversation with others in the Solano JPA-agreement based group on pathways to stay involved in the full-group GSA as recommended below, but this separate filing is another possible path forward for sustainable water management within the Subbasin. More details on this and other updates available in the presentation slides and meeting notes

Next step: Staff and legal teams are working through details of the JPA agreement, and any modifications to membership in the coming month, with the intent to have applications prepared by the end of March. A public notice meeting will be held before applications can be submitted. 

* GSA Staff Advisory Group Recommends GSA Governance Structure

In early 2016, a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Advisory Group of local water-purveying agencies and local agriculture representatives came together to develop recommendations for the Solano Subbasin GSA governance structure to be submitted to DWR by June of 2017. After six months of research, deliberation, and agency and public input, the group has made the following recommendations:

  • A single GSA for the Solano County portion of the Solano Subbasin
  • An inclusive GSA board with 16 members: 12 seats for local water-purveying agencies (including two for the Dixon and Solano RCDs), two County Supervisor seats, and two agriculture community seats
  • Governance via a Joint Powers Authority (the GSA would not be a single agency, and this structure allows public stakeholder members to vote on the board)

The group also developed principles for GSA and Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development, based on group deliberations, Ag Summit input, and examples from other GSA development processes around the state.

View the Advisory Group Recommendations here. These recommendations have been presented to agency boards and the public, and the hope is to have the GSA board begin to meet in early 2017. Currently the last boards are offering input and groups are selecting representatives and alternates.  

* December, 2016 Public Input Meetings Complete

The third and final round of SGMA public input workshops for 2016 took place December 13, 15, and 16. These meetings attracted almost 100 participants from around the subbasin, and focused on sharing updates on the local SGMA process, including the recommendations mentioned above, and seek public input on key topics for the upcoming Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) development process. Notes are available here, and annotated slides are available here

The Solano Subbasin FAQs were also updated with input from these public meetings. 

There will be a §6066 public hearing as part of the GSA notification process in accordance with Water Code §10723(b) - join our listserv, check-back here or in your local papers for more information in late spring or June of 2017. 

* Final Basin Boundary Modifications Released

On October 18, DWR released the final modifications to California’s groundwater basin boundaries preparing the way for local agencies to bring their basins into balance. SGMA initially established the basin boundaries as defined in Bulletin 118, a comprehensive report on California groundwater resources. Of the 54 requests for changes to basin boundaries, DWR approved 39, denied 12, and three were deemed incomplete. Most of the modifications were made to basins in the Central Valley and included refinements reflecting waterways, county lines and geologic information. This includes modifications to the Yolo County-based Subbasins that impact the boundaries of the Solano Subbasin. You can view the local changes in DWR's GIS mapping tool here. The updated basin boundaries map is also available in our local SGMA factsheet

The new basin boundaries will be included in the interim update of Bulletin 118, due out by January 1, 2017. Another basin boundary modification request period may be held in 2018 based on demand from local agencies and/or GSAs.To discuss modification submissions please contact our DWR Region Office Representative:
Bill Brewster, Bill.Brewster@water.ca.gov

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Overview of SGMA

This factsheet provides a summary of SGMA and what it means for us in the Solano Subbasin. It includes most of the information that you will find on this webpage. See also the Solano Subbasin FAQs for answers to many common SGMA questions.     

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which went into effect on January 1, 2015, established a robust framework for the sustainable management of groundwater resources for the first time in California’s history. Groundwater is a critical component of the state’s water supply portfolio, and if effectively managed, this resource will help protect communities, farms, and the environment against the impacts of prolonged dry periods and climate change. SGMA recognizes that management is most effective when done at the local level by local agencies with adequate information, tools, resources, and authorities.

SGMA requires medium- and high-priority groundwater basins in the state to be managed by local agencies that have formed a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) by June 30, 2017. Once formed, a GSA must develop and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) by January 31, 2022 to guide the sustainable management of its groundwater basin. The GSA has 20 years following this date to achieve its sustainability goals. The law allows for limited state intervention when necessary to protect groundwater resources.

SGMA Implementation Timeline

Forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency 

The first step in implementing SGMA is to develop Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), and this is a primary concern of agencies and stakeholders statewide at this time. SGMA defines a GSA as one or more local agencies that must implement SGMA’s provisions. A local agency is defined as any local public agency that has water supply, water management, or land use responsibilities within a groundwater basin. Any local agency or combination of local agencies overlying a groundwater basin can elect to be a GSA. A combination of local agencies may form a GSA by using any of the following methods: a joint powers agreement (JPA), or a memorandum of agreement or other legal agreement (MOU). A water corporation regulated by the Public Utilities Commission or a mutual water company may participate in a GSA through a memorandum of agreement or other legal agreement. Non-agency parties can be incorporated into the decision-making process for the GSA, or in certain cases, they may wish to form a new GSA-eligible agency.

An interactive GSA map showing the location of local agencies that have elected to be a GSA is available here.

What's Happening in Solano County?

In Solano County, the state has designated the Solano Subbasin as medium-priority, and thus subject to SGMA. The Solano Subbasin is contained mostly within Solano County, but portions are also within Sacramento and Yolo Counties. It underlies the Cities of Dixon, Fairfield, Rio Vista, and Vacaville, and is pumped regularly for local agricultural and municipal uses. Learn more about the current groundwater conditions in the Solano Subbasin. The two other groundwater basins in Solano County - the Suisun-Fairfield Valley Basin and the Napa-Sonoma Lowlands Subbasin - are not designated as priority basins, so are not subject to SGMA.

SolanoRevisedBoundary2016

Download a detailed map of the Solano Subbasin displaying local public agency service areas and other details.

 The formation of a GSA(s) in the Solano Subbasin that have the widespread support of the eligible agencies, groundwater users, and stakeholders requires two interrelated processes:

  1. Inter-agency coordination: The convening of GSA-eligible agencies to identify and implement an appropriate long‐term governance approach for the GSA.
  2. Public stakeholder engagement: The engagement of groundwater users and other stakeholders to ensure that local concerns and interests are included in the GSA and GSP formation processes.

What Are Local Agencies Doing? 

Local agencies are expected to collaborate and coordinate their GSA formations on a basin-wide scale to sustainably manage groundwater at a local level. The Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) hired a facilitation team, Ag Innovations, to support this process, and in 2016, the facilitators worked with representatives from GSA-eligible agencies in the Solano Subbasin to identify agency interests, concerns, and recommendations relating to GSA formation, and to develop recommendations for the governance structure for one or more GSAs. At the direction of the SCWA Board, the GSA Staff Advisory Group (GSAG) was formed to develop recommendations for the governance structure for one or more GSAs for the Solano Subbasin to fulfill SGMA requirements. The GSAG is structured as an invitation-based, ad hoc Advisory Group of staff representatives from GSA-eligible agencies of the Solano Subbasin, as defined by state-administered maps, as well as representatives from a limited number of stakeholder groups. All recommendations developed by the GSAG are reviewed and vetted by member organizations’ boards and constituencies. The GSAG is not the GSA for the Solano Subbasin. The agencies will seek continuous input from and coordinate with other agencies and public stakeholders.

Local SGMA Implementation Process Highlights:    

How Can Interested Stakeholders Get Involved?

Successful implementation of SGMA will support the health and vibrancy of the region’s communities, farms, and environment while maintaining local control over local groundwater resources. A substantial amount of groundwater use in the Solano Subbasin occurs on farms, and to a lesser extent on rural residences, thus the sustainable management of groundwater requires that local agencies and groundwater users work closely with one another from the start. Toward this end, SCWA and its partner agencies are working with a facilitator to solicit the input of farmers and ranchers, well-owners, businesses, environmental groups, and other stakeholders during the GSA formation process. This stakeholder engagement process will be used to understand and involve groundwater users and other interested parties and their concerns in the SGMA implementation process. 

Ways to get involved:

  1. Public workshops and other events: will be held periodically throughout the process to share information about SGMA and local groundwater conditions, and to ensure that stakeholder concerns and interests are heard during the GSA formation process. Join our listserv (top of page) to stay informed of upcoming events and input opportunities. 
  2. Email newsletter: email info [at] aginnovations.org to receive periodic email updates about SGMA implementation in the Solano Subbasin, including invitations to meetings and important SGMA information.

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