What is SGMA?
Groundwater is a significant source of California's water supply. Due to the drought and overdraft conditions effecting the long-term sustainability of groundwater supplies, the California state legislature passed a package of three bills (Assembly Bill 1739, Senate Bill 1168, and Senate Bill 1319) that were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. SGMA recognizes that groundwater is most effectively managed at the local level and provides local and regional agencies with the framework to manage groundwater basins in a sustainable manner, with the goal of achieving groundwater sustainability by 2040.
In SGMA, sustainable groundwater management is defined as management of groundwater supplies in a manner that can be maintained in planning and implementation phases without causing undesirable results. Undesirable results include significant and unreasonable chronic lowering of groundwater levels, reduction of groundwater storage, seawater intrusion, degraded water quality, land subsidence, and surface water depletions that have adverse impacts on the beneficial uses of surface water.
The California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) identified and defined boundaries for 515 groundwater basins and subbasins in the agency’s Bulletin 118. DWR analyzed the groundwater conditions in each subbasin, and determined which basins needed sustainability, prioritized by high-medium or low status, with a high-priority status resulting in the need for immediate action. Within the legislation’s framework, local and regional agencies were tasked with forming groundwater sustainability agencies (GSA) by June 2017 to represent their groundwater basins and subbasins. These GSAs are responsible for developing a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP), which will provide a roadmap for managing their basin or subbasin groundwater supplies.
The Mid-Kings River GSA
As part of the San Joaquin Valley Basin, the Tulare Lake Subbasin is a high-priority basin that is in critical groundwater overdraft. The Mid-Kings River GSA is one of six GSAs within the Tulare Lake Subbasin. The GSA was formed in 2016 as a joint powers authority by the Kings County Water District, City of Hanford and County of Kings to represent the interests of beneficial users of groundwater in the GSA’s jurisdictional boundary within the Tulare Lake Subbasin and overseeing compliance with SGMA requirements.
The GSA is working with stakeholders within the GSA boundary to collect and organize historical data, solicit feedback related to the specific interests of beneficial users of groundwater, and develop a GSP that addresses the needs and concerns while moving toward the ultimate goal of achieving groundwater sustainability. The Mid-Kings River GSA will also work collaboratively with other GSAs within the subbasin to jointly manage groundwater and develop a subbasin-level GSP.
© Mid-Kings River Groundwater Sustainability Agency