On September 16, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) that, for the first time in history, would regulate groundwater in the state. California was the only western state that did not have a system of oversight in place.
The legislation called for the formation of groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) by June 30, 2017; implementation of groundwater plans for critical overdraft basins by January 31, 2020 and implementation of groundwater plans for high and medium basins by January 31, 2022 with the overall goal of achieving groundwater sustainability 20 years after the implementation of each plan (2040/2042).
Recognizing that groundwater is most effectively managed at the state level, the SGMA has empowered local agencies (counties, municipalities, water districts, combined agencies, etc.) to form GSA’s to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans that consider all beneficial uses and users of groundwater in the basin. Numerous GSAs have already been formed throughout the state. To view those agencies visit the California Department of Water Resources website.
What this legislation means for golf, agriculture and other industries is not clear at this point, but the state is allowing stakeholders to provide input and assist in developing resources to help GSAs make informed decisions about sustainable groundwater management for the 515 alluvial groundwater basins in California.
It is imperative that the golf industry be represented as these GSAs form throughout the state. We must remain vigilant and protect our best interests while assisting in developing a sound policy that makes sense for all stakeholders.
While our normative organizations will be doing their part to monitor the formation of the GSAs, it is going to take an all hands on deck approach to identify, and more importantly, sit down at the table with these agencies.
For more information on the SGMA, the establishing of the GSAs and the structure for managing California’s groundwater, visit http://www.water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/gsa.cfm.