On Dec. 27, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) updated its Bulletin 118 series on California groundwater, including information to help local agencies meet requirements and deadlines under the historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) enacted in 2014.
The update addresses groundwater basins in critical overdraft, modifications to basin boundaries, and in 2017 the priority ranking of groundwater basins – all which DWR says are essential to SGMA’s successful implementation.
DWR says reassessing the prioritization of California groundwater basins is currently underway. The Bulletin 118 interim update will be amended in 2017 to include the approach for, and results of, the basin prioritization at the completion of that effort.
The basin priority update process will include public meetings and workshops to solicit input.
More information about the reprioritization of California’s groundwater basins is available online at http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/SGM_BasinPriority.cfm.
Under SGMA, groundwater sustainability agencies must be established for all groundwater basins which DWR has identified as high and medium priority by June 30, 2017.
SGMA also requires that basins subject to critical conditions of overdraft, as classified in Bulletin 118, be covered by groundwater sustainability plans or their equivalent by Jan. 31, 2020.
Groundwater sustainability plans, or their equivalent, must be established for all other high and medium priority basins by Jan. 31, 2022.
The late December update of Bulletin 118 is the latest in a series of reports about California’s groundwater which date back to 1952 when DWR’s predecessor - the Division of Water Resources - published a first-ever base map showing California’s principal groundwater basins.
A comprehensive update of Bulletin 118 is scheduled for 2020 in accordance with Water Code section 12924 and the California Water Action Plan. The update will include an inventory and assessment of efforts by groundwater sustainability agencies and the state to implement SGMA, information on groundwater management successes and challenges, and recommendations for the future.