Latest Milestone on the SGMA Timeline

Nossaman LLP

As the clock slowly ticks forward on California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) deadlines, earlier this month, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) issued its first assessments of groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs). Two groundwater sustainability agencies’ (GSAs) plans were approved:  Santa Cruz Mid-County Basin in Santa Cruz County and 180/400 Foot Aquifer Subbasin in Monterey County. GSPs from the Cuyama Valley Basin and Paso Robles Subbasin were deemed to “lack specific details” and were not approved.

According to the DWR’s website, “DWR is releasing plan assessments as they are completed, rather than waiting to release the assessments at the end of the two-year review period in January 2022, to provide early feedback and guidance that can inform other GSAs as they develop their plans.” Submission of GSPs for critically overdrafted basins was required by January 31, 2020. All remaining high- and medium-priority basins must submit their plans to the DWR by January 31, 2022, unless extensions are approved pursuant to a proposal making its way through the Legislature.

The DWR must evaluate and issue an assessment of a GSP within two years of submission by a GSA. Current status and a link to all GSPs submitted to date can also be found here on the DWR’s SGMA portal, and the DWR will be hosting a live question and answer webinar on June 24th to discuss and provide guidance concerning these first groundwater sustainability plan determinations.

In a recent Maven’s Notebook post, there is extensive coverage of DWR Acting Deputy Director of the Statewide Groundwater Management Program Steven Springhorn’s presentation at the May 25th Kern County Water Summit. According to the post, “Mr. Springhorn pointed out that even though these first decisions are important, this is just the first step in a long 20-year process towards sustainability in these basins. ‘No one plan is perfect, and there will be areas that need to be improved,’ he said.  ‘We’re looking for that progress to be made.’”

Nossaman will continue to track all SGMA milestones and provide updates on our blog as the clock ticks closer to 2042….stay tuned!

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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