Sustainable Groundwater Management

In September of 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 (SGMA), which changed the landscape of groundwater management in California. SGMA is a comprehensive package of legislation that sets the framework for statewide sustainable groundwater management and declares that such authority be given to local public agencies that have either water supply or land use authority, or both. SGMA requires, among other items, the formation of a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) and the preparation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) with a focus on long-term groundwater sustainability. Formation of a GSA must occur no later than June 30, 2017, and development and adoption of a GSP must be adopted no later than January 31, 2022, for high and medium priority basins, not currently in a condition of critical overdraft as determined by the Department of Water Resources.

There are four separate groundwater subbasins (as presently described in the California Department of Water Resources Bulletin 118) that occur, in part, beneath the political footprint of Stanislaus County. These subbasins are:

The Eastern San Joaquin Groundwater Subbasin

(that portion of Stanislaus County occurring north of the Stanislaus River; commonly referred to as the “northern triangle”)

The Modesto Groundwater Subbasin

(that area of land located between the Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers, occurring west of the Sierra Nevada foothills and east of the San Joaquin River)

The Turlock Groundwater Subbasin

(that area of land located between the Tuolume and Merced rivers, occurring west of the Sierra Nevada foothills and east of the San Joaquin River)

The Delta-Mendota Groundwater Subbasin

(that area of land within Stanislaus County located west of the San Joaquin River and east of the basement rock of the Coast Range)