SGMA Balance

SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. Upon passage of SGMA, DWR launched the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Program to implement the law and provide ongoing support to local agencies around the state. Looking for information about Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, resources available to local agencies and the public, the latest tools and guidance in managing groundwater basins sustainably? Visit Water California

Sustainable Groundwater Management

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a framework for sustainable, local groundwater management. SGMA requires groundwater-dependent regions to halt overdraft and bring basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. SGMA:

  • Establishes a definition of “sustainable groundwater management”
  • Requires a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the most important groundwater basins in California
  • Establishes a timetable for adoption of Groundwater Sustainability Plans
  • Empowers local agencies to manage basins sustainably
  • Establishes basic requirements for Groundwater Sustainability Plans
  • Supports a limited state role

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a new structure for managing California’s groundwater resources at the local level by local agencies. SGMA required Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to form in the State’s high and medium priority basins and subbasins by July 1, 2017. The legislative intent of SGMA is to recognize and preserve the authority of cities and counties to manage groundwater according to their existing powers. As a result, local governments play an important land use and water management role in California and should be involved in GSA formation and Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) implementation. These locally controlled GSAs have the authority and responsibility to sustainably manage their respective groundwater basins.

Agency’s Role

SGMA assigns different roles to DWR, the State Water Resources Control Board, local agencies and counties related to GSA formation.

County’s Role

DWR’s Role

Local Agency’s Role

Local agencies are expected to collaborate and coordinate their GSA formations on a basin-wide scale to sustainably manage groundwater at a local level. A local agency that decides to become a GSA will be required to perform the duties, and exercise the necessary powers, of a GSA when developing, implementing, and enforcing a basin’s groundwater sustainability program.

  • Before deciding to become a GSA, and after publication of notice pursuant to Section 6066 of the Government Code, the local agency or agencies shall hold a public hearing in the county or counties overlying the basin. (Water Code §10723(b))
  • The decision of a local agency or combination of agencies to become a GSA shall take effect as provided in §10723.8. (Water Code §10723(d))
  • One local agency can decide to become a GSA or a combination of local agencies can decide to form a GSA by using a joint powers agreement, a memorandum of agreement, or other legal agreement. (Water Code §10723.6)
  • Within 30 days of deciding to become or form a GSA, the local agency or combination of local agencies shall inform DWR of its decision and its intent to undertake sustainable groundwater management. (Water Code §10723.8(a))
  • The GSA formation notice shall include all the information in Water Code §10723.8(a), as applicable.
  • The decision to become an exclusive GSA shall take effect pursuant to Water Code §10723.8(c) and (d)– an exclusive GSA will not be identified by DWR until any GSA overlap is resolved.
  • Only exclusive GSAs can coordinate to develop a GSP for a basin and submit that GSP to DWR for review.
  • A GSA may withdraw from managing a basin by notifying DWR in writing of its intent to withdraw. (Water Code §10723.8(e))
  • Local agencies and GSAs that have withdrawn their posted notices.

Groundwater Sustainability Plans