Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed a group of three bills collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) into law in September 2014. The SGMA established a framework for local agencies to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to sustainably manage groundwater through implementation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). All high and medium priority basins, as defined in the Department of Water Resources Bulletin 118, must have complete GSA coverage by June 30, 2017. San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors member entities are located in the Delta-Mendota Subbasin which is a high priority and critically overdrafted basin. Critically overdrafted high and medium priority basins must be managed under a GSP by January 31, 2020. If a basin is not managed under a GSP or the GSP is inadequate to achieve sustainability, the State Board may designate that basin as probationary and assume the management responsibility. The goal of SGMA is to sustainably manage groundwater within 20 years of the initial GSP submittal and maintain sustainability for a 50-year planning and implementation horizon.
Local groundwater management is best achieved with involvement of stakeholders. Outreach is critical for successful implementation of the SGMA. Each GSP shall include a summary of information relating to notification and communication by the GSA to other stakeholders. Some stakeholders include:
- State, Federal and Tribal Governments: Governor’s Administration, Legislature and key State and federal agencies, tribes
- Regional and local governments and agencies: Water and groundwater management agencies and districts; land use entities such as counties and cities
- Other stakeholders: Non-governmental organizations representing water, groundwater, environmental, environmental justice, and agriculture interests as well as universities
- The public