DWR Completes Prioritization of Groundwater Basins Under SGMA
December 18, 2019

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced completion of a multi-year process to prioritize 515 groundwater basins as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

DWR prioritized all groundwater basins in California in phases. The initial phase completed in January 2019, identified 56 basins that are required to develop a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP). Draft prioritization for the remaining basins was announced in April 2019 followed by a 30-day public comment period and public meeting. With today’s finalization of SGMA 2019 Basin Prioritization, DWR identified an additional 38 basins that need to create a GSP, bringing the total to 94 basins.

The prioritization process identifies which basins must develop GSPs and by when. Basins identified as medium- or high-priority are required to form groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) and create GSPs detailing how their basins will reach sustainability within 20 years. Prioritization is based on factors such as population, irrigated acreage, the number of wells, and groundwater use in a basin.

SGMA defines sustainable management as operating a basin within its sustainable yield without causing undesirable results such as subsidence, seawater intrusion or degraded water quality.

Basins required to create GSPs – along with adjudicated areas, which have existing governance and oversight in place – account for 98 percent of the pumping (20 million acre-feet), 83 percent of the population (25 million Californians), and 88 percent of all irrigated acres (6.7 million acres) within the state’s groundwater basins.

DWR provides technical support services, sustainable groundwater planning grants, meeting facilitation support services, and communication and engagement services to help local agencies and GSAs implement SGMA.

For more information, visit DWR’s groundwater management webpages.

If you have any questions, please email sgmps@water.ca.gov.