The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
What's Going On in Tulare County?
New laws enacted January 1, 2015
In September 2014, Governor Brown signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) commonly referred to as "Sig-Ma". Official implementation of the law began January 1, 2015 and everyone who extracts more than two acre feet of water from underground aquifers, specifically in the 127 overdrafted basins here in California are subject to the new law.
If you extract groundwater, this law impacts your future extractions.
SGMA was passed to ensure successful management of California's groundwater resources at the local level. It requires local public agencies, or a combination of local agencies, overlying high priority groundwater basins to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to manage groundwater usage in the basin. The state expects these GSAs to achieve successful management through Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) over the course of the next 20 years.
The GSAs will have the authority to manage and regulate extractions, and will have fee authority to tax or assess landowners for the financial needs to develop hydrologic data and management plans, as well as monitor, enforce, and regulate extractions over the next 20 year planning horizon.
Groundwater basins, their boundaries, and the level of priority were set by the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) and approved by the CA Water Commission. There are three sub-basins under the greater Tulare Lake Basin within Tulare County, these include: Kings sub basin (eastern portion); Kaweah sub basin; and Tule sub basin.
The process to implement SGMA has begun and it is expected to take years to complete. The first step was establishing the local GSAs to oversee the management of groundwater in the area. Local GSAs were formed and filed paperwork to CA Department of Water Resources in June of 2017. Following formation the GSA is to collect data and hydrogeological information about the groundwater make up in their basin and begin development of their groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to be submitted to the state by the year 2020 for designated high priority areas.
It's important to note that SGMA is not just affecting agriculture, but also our local cities and towns who extract groundwater - everyone who extracts more than 2 ac./ft. per year. Some who pump less may be exempt as a deminimis user, but should consult with their GSA to understand the law and how it impacts their future pumping needs.
More info follows on the specific GSA planning efforts underway in Tulare County:
Kings Sub Basin
There are seven GSAs in the greater Kings Basin which encompasses most of Fresno County and portions of Kings County and Tulare County. The eastern portion of the basin falls within Tulare County, specifically the Alta Irrigation District service area and northern portion of Tulare County.
The Kings River East GSA involves all of the service territory for Alta Irrigation District, and lands east of the Kings River. For more information on these efforts and how to stay informed, contact Chad Wegley at Alta Irrigation District by calling 591-0800.
The seven GSAs forming in the Kings Subbasin are all identified at this website visit KingsGroundWater.info
Kaweah Sub Basin
There are now three GSA's formed in the Kaweah sub-basin.
The first formed was the Mid Kaweah GSA. This agency was created between the City of Visalia, City of Tulare and the Tulare Irrigation District through a Joint Powers Agreement in 2015. They are working with consulting agencies in collecting groundwater data. For more information contact the Tulare Irrigation District at 686-3425, or City of Visalia, or City of Tulare. Mid- Kaweah GSA website: https://www.midkaweah.org/
For most of the remaining portions of the Kaweah sub basin, the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District has joined with multiple entities to form the Greater Kaweah GSA which cover other areas of the Kaweah sub basin not covered within the East side GSA or Mid-Kaweah GSA. For more information contact Eric Osterling at KDWCD at 747- 5601. Greater Kaweah GSA website: http://greaterkaweahgsa.org/
An East Kaweah GSA has formed in the eastern portion of the Kaweah Sub basin. City of Lindsay, Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District, Ivanhoe Irrigation District, Lindmore Irrigation District, Stone Corral Irrigation District, and County of Tulare are the partnering agencies. For more information, contact any of the cities or irrigation districts listed here for more details or contact Mike Hagman, Lindmore Irrigation at 562-2534 or visit http://www.ekgsa.org/
GSAs formed in the Kaweah Subbasin:
Tule Sub Basin
The Tule sub basin has six GSAs, spearheaded by irrigation districts and other public agencies who will create individual GSPs that will operate under a cooperative agreement. A large coordinating committee amongst the six agencies exists, and stakeholder meetings are held for all to attend. For more information on developments in the Tule sub-basin contact Tule River Water Master Dick Schafer at 734-1348 or 4Creeks Engineering at 781-0102.GSAs in the Tule Subbasin:
White Areas not covered by a Public Agency
There are areas within the county that currently do not fall under a public water or land use agency's jurisdiction, however they fall within the designation of a SGMA groundwater sub basin. These areas are subject to oversight by the County. Tulare County Board of Supervisors is committed to participating in local GSAs to make certain that white area landowners are covered in SGMA planning. For information about the white areas, you may call Denise England, Tulare County Deputy CAO at 636-5000.
Farm Bureau has been actively monitoring the progress and involved in local efforts on SGMA implementation. We will continue to be at the table and in meetings voicing the concerns of our members as various rules and regulations associated with SGMA begin to roll out over the next year.
We urge you to stay involved during this process through SGMA updates in TCFB NEWS, attend stakeholder meetings in your designated groundwater sub basin, contact your irrigation district about their involvement in SGMA, attend Farm Bureau water committee meetings, or simply call Farm Bureau at 732-8301 for questions and more information.
Useful Web Links:
Updated November 2018