When California passed its landmark groundwater law in 2014,
there was a collective “it’s about time” across the West. But
even though California may have been late in issuing a robust
groundwater management law, it does set a high bar in at least
one key area.
California policymakers are the last line of defense against
the federal government’s attempt to facilitate a water heist
from beneath our Mojave Desert. Cadiz Inc. seeks to extract
50,000 acre-feet of water from an underground basin in the
Mojave each year and pump it to urban users near the coast.
Land subsidence caused by groundwater pumping has been a
problem for decades in the San Joaquin Valley, but an increased
reliance on aquifers during the last decade has resulted in
subsidence rates of more than one foot per year in some parts
of the region. … Join us for a special, free
workshop on Oct 2 at Fresno State — co-sponsored by the
California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Water
Education Foundation – that will highlight ongoing land
subsidence monitoring, monitoring techniques and DWR assistance
to help local agencies comply with requirements of the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).
About 20 parents and others urged the Simi Valley City
Council this week not to let the city use groundwater as
drinking water for residences, arguing it is contaminated
by the nearby Santa Susana Field Laboratory and is likely
In a major development for California American Water’s
long-sought desalination project, the California Public
Utilities Commission has issued a proposed decision
recommending approval of the proposal known as the Monterey
Peninsula Water Supply Project.
When Carol Pittman heard that New Mexico’s top water official
denied a company’s application to pump groundwater from below
the valley where she lives, she was thrilled. “What could be
better?” she said. “That project would have just destroyed the
place.” For 11 years, Pittman and her neighbors fought plans by
Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC, to pump 54,000 acre-feet of water
each year from the aquifer below the Valley of San Agustin.
Using an unprecedented number of satellite radar images,
geophysicists at Caltech have tracked how the ground in
Southern California rises and falls as groundwater is pumped in
and out of aquifers beneath the surface.
Ending a five-year moratorium, the Trump administration
Wednesday took a first step toward opening 1.6 million acres of
California public land to fracking and conventional oil
drilling, triggering alarm bells among environmentalists.
In the latest Public Policy Institute of California poll,
voters said drought, water supply, and water pollution are the
state’s most pressing environmental challenge. Californians
recognize that water fuels our economy, grows our food, and
sustains our natural places.
In a move hailed by environmentalists and nearby landowners,
New Mexico’s top water-rights official has dismissed as
speculative a company’s application to tap billions of gallons
of groundwater from a closed basin deep beneath the Plains of
San Agustin in western New Mexico.
Last summer, some 250 local groundwater sustainability agencies
(GSAs) were formed―the first step in meeting the requirements
of California’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA). … A recent event by the Groundwater Resources
Association of California explored groundwater governance, and
laid out ways that locals will need to cooperate to manage
groundwater for long-term sustainability.
While California’s drought state-of-emergency has been lifted,
legal battles aimed at limiting groundwater extractions linger.
This can be seen in the recently decided California Water
Impact Network v. County of San Luis Obispo et al., where the
Second District Court of Appeal took on the issue of whether
groundwater well drilling permit approvals are exempt from the
California Environmental Quality Act.
California’s new groundwater management law is not a sports
car. It moves more like a wagon train. The rules do not require
critically overdrafted aquifers to achieve “sustainability”
until 2040. But 22 years from now, once they finally get there,
lives will be transformed.
Soquel resident Wayne Stanton wants to know how long it will be
before he can go back to having lawns and vegetable gardens.
Stanton was one of a handful of community members on Tuesday at
Twin Lakes Church to take up Soquel Creek Water District on
their offer to comments on and question a draft environmental
study for its proposed Pure Water Soquel project.
Today [August 1], the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) announced a $135 million Water Infrastructure Finance and
Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Orange County Water District
to help finance its Groundwater Replenishment System final
expansion. The announcement was made by EPA’s Regional
Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Mike Stoker at the
project’s future site on Ward Street in Fountain Valley.
E&B Natural Resources, which purchased the oil field in
2007, had reapplied for two 10-year conditional use permits in
January that were approved in May. The decision was
challenged by two environmental advocacy groups, the Center for
Biological Diversity and Livermore Eco Watchdog, because
of perceived risks to Livermore’s groundwater.
The depletion of California’s aquifers by overpumping of
groundwater has led to growing interest in “managed aquifer
recharge,” which replenishes depleted aquifers using available
surface waters, such as high flows in rivers, runoff from
winter storms, or recycled waste water. At the same time, there
is growing concern about contamination of groundwater supplies
with nitrate from fertilizers, septic tanks, and other sources.
With the future of Salinas Valley groundwater supply and usage
hanging in the balance, residents of the farming-rich area
known as the Salad Bowl of the World will get a chance to weigh
in this week on how their water is managed under the state’s
Groundwater Sustainability Act.
Across California, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs)
are devising plans to reduce long-term overdraft. As part of
the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, GSAs will
submit plans in 2020-2022, which detail strategies to bring
groundwater use into balance by 2040. Planning processes must
assemble stakeholders and estimate sustainable yields of
groundwater, quantify existing pumping, describe future options
to limit overdraft, and identify funding.