On September 16, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a three-bill legislative package, composed of AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley), collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For the first time in its history, California has a framework for sustainable, groundwater management – “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”
SGMA requires governments and water agencies of high and medium priority basins to halt overdraft and bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. Under SGMA, these basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of implementing their sustainability plans. For critically over-drafted basins, that will be 2040. For the remaining high and medium priority basins, 2042 is the deadline.
In his signing statement, the governor emphasized that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” Through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program, DWR provides ongoing support to local agencies through guidance and financial and technical assistance.
SGMA empowers local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to manage basins sustainably and requires those GSAs to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for crucial groundwater basins in California.