Ensuring a sustainable supply of California groundwater is the goal of legislation signed into law on September 16, 2014 by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. The three-year drought has increased groundwater extraction in many regions of the state and led to over-drafting and water shortages in some communities. The new law mandates the creation of local groundwater management agencies that will monitor extraction and create sustainability plans that must be in place in 20 years. DWR is given expanded responsibilities under the law, including requirements to revise groundwater basin boundaries and create guidelines for local agencies to write their Sustainable Groundwater Management Plans.
Groundwater is a critical element of the state's water system, making up more than one-third of California's water supply. The bills establish a definition of sustainable groundwater management and require local agencies to adopt management plans for the state's most important groundwater basins. The legislation prioritizes groundwater basins that are currently overdrafted and sets a timeline for implementation:
- By 2017, local groundwater management agencies must be identified;
- By 2020, overdrafted groundwater basins must have sustainability plans;
- By 2022, other high and medium priority basins not currently in overdraft must have sustainability plans; and
- By 2040, all high and medium priority groundwater basins must achieve sustainability.
Additionally, the legislation provides measurable objectives and milestones to reach sustainability and a state role of limited intervention when local agencies are unable or unwilling to adopt sustainable management plans.
In addition to this legislation, the Governor announced that he has signed the following bills today:
- AB 2453 by Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) - Paso Robles Basin Water District.
- AB 1043 by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) - Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006: groundwater contamination.
For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov