Environmental Law
Key Components of California
Groundwater Legislation &
Water Bond
CARCD Annual Meeting & Conference
November 13, 2014
Steve Anderson
©2014 Best Best & Krieger LLP
Environmental Law
Groundwater Legislation
• On September 16, 2014, Gov. Brown signed the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (Act).
• Purposes of the Act:
 Statewide management of groundwater;
 Avoid “undesirable results,” e.g., chronic lowering of
water levels, reduction in storage capacity, seawater
intrusion, degraded water quality, land subsidence,
and surface water depletions.
 Provide for the local management of basins; State will
step in if locals refuse to act.
Environmental Law
Basin Prioritization
• By January 31, 2015, DWR will
establish the initial priority—high,
medium, low, or very low—for each
groundwater basin in the state.
• Only high and medium priority basins
will be subject to sustainable
groundwater management mandates.
• Adjudicated basins are exempt.
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Basin Prioritizatio
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Groundwater Sustainability Agencies
• High and medium priority basins must be governed by GSA’s by
June 30, 2017.
• Local agencies may form GSAs after a public hearing.
• Multiple local agencies can form a single GSA.
 All sustainability agencies must formally coordinate their
 The entire basin must be covered by an agency - no dead
• Counties are the default agency in unmanaged areas, but they
may decline that role.
Environmental Law
Groundwater Sustainability Agencies
• GSA must provide annual groundwater reports to
DWR that include elevation data, extraction data,
surface water availability for groundwater
recharge or in-lieu use, total water use, and
changes in groundwater storage.
• GSAs must:
 Consider the interests of all beneficial uses and users of
 Establish and maintain a list of persons interested in
receiving notices regarding plan preparation, meeting
announcements, and availability of draft plans, etc.
Environmental Law
GSAs have authority to:
• Adopt rules, regulations, ordinances, and
• Impose fees and levy groundwater charges
• Require registration of and impose
requirements on wells and other
groundwater extraction facilities
• Require measurements of every well
• Acquire and dispose of real and personal
property, including water rights
Environmental Law
GSAs have authority to:
• Transport, reclaim, purify, desalinate, treat, or
otherwise manage and control polluted
water, wastewater, or other waters for
subsequent use
• Validate groundwater sustainability plans;
• Control groundwater extractions by
regulating extractions of groundwater
• Authorize transfers of groundwater extraction
within their boundaries
Environmental Law
Groundwater Sustainability Plans
• DWR will review all GSPs
 Single plan by one agency or multiple agencies,
 Multiple plans by multiple agencies
• GSPs for high and medium priority basins must
be adopted by January 31, 2022 or by January
31, 2020 if a basin is subject to critical
conditions of overdraft.
Environmental Law
Contents of GSPs
• GSPs plan must include:
 Long-term planning, objectives, and goals to achieve
basin sustainability within 20 years;
 Technical information regarding the basin;
 Components for monitoring and management of
groundwater levels, groundwater quality degradation,
inelastic land surface subsidence, and changes in
surface flow and surface water quality that directly
affect groundwater levels or quality;
 Mitigation of overdraft;
 Recharge areas and basin replenishment.
Environmental Law
Alternatives to GSPs
• Local agencies may use an alternative to GSP if:
 A groundwater management plan covers the basin;
 The basin is managed under an adjudication; or
 The basin has operated within sustainable yield for the
past 10 years.
• Alternative plans due by January 1, 2017.
• DWR will review alternative plans.
• The State Water Resources Control Board may
also impose yearly reporting requirements on
local agencies.
Environmental Law
Should My Agency be a Groundwater
Sustainability Agency??
• Being a member of a joint groundwater
sustainability agency will:
 Give your RCD a voice in the management of local
groundwater basins;
 Raise the profile of your agency; and
 Increase the likelihood of joint projects, including
those eligible for state grant funding.
Environmental Law
Important Deadlines
January 31, 2015
DWR sets initial priority for groundwater basins (§ 10722.4)
January 1, 2016
DWR adopts regulations on criteria for modifying groundwater basin
boundaries. (§ 107022.2, subd. (b).)
April 1, 2016
First reports due from exempt adjudicated basins (§ 10720.8, subd.
DWR adopts regulations for evaluating groundwater sustainability
plans and alternatives, for the implementation of groundwater
sustainability plans, and for coordination agreements. (§ 10733.2.)
June 1, 2016
January 1, 2017
Local agency submission for DWR approval of an alternative to a
groundwater sustainability plan if the local agency believes the
alternative satisfies the objectives of the Act. (§ 10733.6.)
Environmental Law
Important Deadlines
June 30, 2017
A local agency of collection of local agencies elects to be a
sustainability agency for a basin. (§ 10735.2, subd. (a)(1).)
July 1, 2017
If there is an area within a basin that is not within the management
area of any groundwater sustainability agency, and the county does
not assume responsibility, extractions must be reported to the State
Water Board. (§§ 5202, subd. (a)(2), 10724, subd. (b).)
January 31, 2020
Groundwater sustainability plans required for medium- and highpriority basins that are in critical overdraft. (§§ 10720.7, 10735.2,
subd. (a)(2).)
Groundwater sustainability plans required for medium- and highpriority basins that are not in critical overdraft. (§§ 10720.7, 10735.2,
subd. (a)(4).)
Groundwater sustainability plans achieve the sustainability goal.
(§ 10727.2, subd. (b).)
January 31, 2022
20 years after
plan adoption
Environmental Law
Water Bond
Environmental Law
Thank you for attending.
Steve Anderson
Best Best & Krieger LLP
3390 University Avenue
5th Floor
Riverside CA, 92501
Phone: (951) 826-8279
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.bbklaw.com
Environmental Law

Steve Anderson, BB&K