Managing State Groundwater
Amid dwindling water resources and threats of lands collapsing due to over pumping, the California Legislature passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014. It requires local groundwater agencies to form groundwater sustainability agencies and to publish plans that include measureable objectives to achieve sustainable groundwater management. The challenge faced by the Department of Water Resources in developing regulations on measurable objectives is to be definitive without being restrictive and to allow for local flexibility.
A new Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report provides important input on establishing measurable objectives. Its report, “Measuring What Matters: Setting Measurable Objectives to Achieve Sustainable Groundwater Management in California” ,suggests methods to effectively manage the state’s groundwater. It recommends that local agencies use common metrics and reporting guidelines so the state can ensure that groundwater withdrawals do not exceed supply.
The UCS, in partnership with the California Water Foundation, convened a multi-stakeholder roundtable to evaluate the new report and compile a series of recommendations regarding measurable objectives. As one agency charged with protecting the Orange County Groundwater Basin, OCWD actively participated in these very important discussions. The roundtable involved voices from agriculture, environmental interests, under-represented communities, counties throughout the state, and water agencies.
“This report is useful in that it provides a good overview of how measurable objectives are defined not just in California, but in other parts of the world. This will assist the Department of Water Resources in crafting regulations as well as providing examples to groundwater agencies as they develop their plans to move towards sustainable groundwater management,” stated OCWD Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson.