Draft Basin Boundary Emergency Regulations Released by California’s Department of Water Resources – Public Comments Due September 4, 2015

Mon Aug 24th, On Environmental Law, by

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will adopt emergency regulations implementing California’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) by November 2015. Comments are due to DWR by September 4, 2015.

The SGMA empowers local agencies to adopt groundwater management plans that meet the needs of their communities. The goal is to manage the state’s aquifers to survive drought and climate change to ensure a reliable water supply. As part of the SGMA, local agencies may request that the DWR revise the boundaries of a basin or establish a new sub-basin. DWR released draft regulations that establish a process for local agencies to follow should they seek to modify the boundaries of a groundwater basin. Submit public comments on the draft until Sept. 4, 2015.

DWR’s Bulletin 118-Update 2003 defines California’s groundwater basins as a three-dimensional alluvial aquifer, or a stacked series of alluvial aquifers, with reasonably well-defined boundaries in a lateral direction and a definable bottom. A groundwater sub-basin is defined as a groundwater basin divided into smaller units using geologic and hydrologic barriers, or institutional boundaries.

By January 1, 2016, DWR is required to adopt emergency regulations implementing the SGMA. The basin boundary regulations will identify the methodology and criteria that DWR will use when reviewing and approving the modification requests. The regulations will also specify the process that local agencies must follow to request a modification to existing boundaries of a groundwater basin or sub-basin, including:

  • How to assess the likelihood that the proposed basin can be sustainably managed;
  • How to assess whether the proposed basin would limit the sustainable management of adjacent basins and
  • How to assess whether there is a history of sustainable management of groundwater levels in the proposed basin.

The public may submit comments to the proposed regulations before September 4, 2015 at a public meeting or by sending comments to DWR at sgmps@water.ca.gov. Public meetings presenting the draft basin boundary emergency regulations will be held on September 2, 2015 at Bakersfield Community College, Bakersfield, and September 3, 2015 at The Delhi Center, Santa Ana. Comments may also be sent via postal mail, to the following address, postmarked by September 4, 2015, to California Department of Water Resources, Attn: Sustainable Groundwater Management Section, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236.

The draft regulations can be found at DWR’s website: http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/pdfs/SGMA_Draft_Basin_Boundary_Regulations.pdf

Our Areas of