Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
The SGMA was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 18, 2014. It is a three-bill package made up by AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley). This is the first law in California with to attempt to manage groundwater in a sustainable manor.
The stated mission of the SGMA is: "management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.” The way that it approaches this goal is by requiring government and water agencies to halt overdraft of high and medium priority basins and bring these basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. These basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of the implementation of a sustainability plan.
Such goals to avoid undesirable results in groundwater basins are:
- Establish minimum standards for sustainable groundwater management
- Provide local groundwater agencies with authority and financial assistance
- Avoid or minimize subsidence
- Improve data collection and understanding of groundwater basins
- Increase groundwater storage and remove impediments to recharge
- Minimize state intervention on local water governing agencies
- Provide a more cost-efficient way to adjudicate water rights while ensuring due process and delays <reference/> http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=WAT&division=6.&title=&part=2.74.&chapter=1.&article= Cite error: Invalid
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The thinking behind the design of the SGMA is to leave management of groundwater to locally organized agencies and boards. To accomplish this goal the Department of Water Resources (DWR) will provide ongoing support through guidance and financial and technical assistance. The SGMA designates local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to manage basins sustainably and requires GSAs to adopt a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) in crucial groundwater basins.
Legal Status / Authority
The SGMA was signed by Governor Brown into California State Law.