North State Water Agencies Discuss Groundwater Management Plans

Jun 5, 2018

Farmers will often rely on groundwater for crop irrigation during droughts.
Credit DrainageDitchTMDL-StPeter / Flickr, Creative Commons

The acronyms GSA, GSP and SGMA may not mean anything to you. But if you rely on a well for your water, it might be time to start paying attention. SGMA is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which was was passed in 2014. It requires local agencies to submit management plans by 2022. If you want to have any input on how agencies are going to manage your groundwater, now is the time to get involved.

Monday a water management board meeting was held at Willows City Hall for the Northern Sacramento Valley area. At the meeting, four county representatives presented developments of their plans to several members of the North State’s water management board. Most Groundwater Sustainability Agencies or GSAs are still in the very beginning phases of writing their new regulations and had few changes to report.

But for some, funding these plans has been difficult. This problem was addressed by Mary Fahey, Colusa County’s water program manager. Fahey said her county is currently working on a ballot proposition that would tax property owners in order to fund the work required by SGMA. She said the tax is the best option if groundwater in the Colusa area is to be managed locally.


“The alternative is having the state come in and take over management of the groundwater basins and that will be very expensive for landowners," she said. "So we are really trying to protect them.”

Fahey said she and the rest of her committee are still looking into how much the tax would be. She said they really want property owner’s input on writing the initiative before putting it to voters sometime next year. But it's difficult to get people's input on a subject that's complicated and saturated with jargon. One landowner at the meeting said that it’s been hard to keep up with the changes.


“I know I’ve been pretty active as a landowner trying to stay on top of this, and I feel like I’m behind the curve," he said.

As agencies begin to write their regulations on groundwater, the process is only going to get more confusing. If you use groundwater, it’s important to understand which agency will be in charge of regulating it and when upcoming meetings concerning those regulations will take place. You can read more about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and deadlines on the Department of Water Resources SGMA website. The DWR also posted a map to help you determine which Groundwater Sustainability Agency is responsible for your area.