• New Groundwater Legislation Update: Comments Recommended Regarding Groundwater Basin Prioritization
  • December 22, 2014 | Author: Steven M. Anderson
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - Riverside Office
  • Under the new groundwater legislation, the California Department of Water Resources must establish the initial priority for each groundwater basin in the state no later than Jan. 31. Those basins that are ultimately designated as high or medium priority will be subject to groundwater sustainability plans to be adopted no later than Jan. 31, 2020, in some cases, or Jan. 31, 2022 in others.

    Preliminary priorities for each groundwater basin, including many sub-basins, have been compiled as part of DWR’s California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) program. Other information about groundwater basins can be found in DWR’s Bulletin 118 (“California’s Groundwater”).

    There is an expectation that most, if not all, of these preliminary priorities will be adopted officially by DWR early next year, barring information coming to light that challenges those preliminary priorities.

    If public agencies or others wish to dispute the preliminary high, medium, low or very low priority status of groundwater basins upon which they rely, comment letters should be submitted to DWR as soon as possible. In setting those priorities, DWR will examine not only water levels, water quality, extraction patterns, current demand and other technical information, but also the population overlying the basin, projected growth, irrigated acreage and other information.

    Agencies may also wish to submit comments to DWR regarding groundwater basin boundaries, particularly if there is scientific dispute about the precise location of such boundaries. Under the new legislation, basin boundaries will be set as identified in DWR Bulletin 118 unless a local agency requests that DWR revise boundaries and submits technical and other information supporting a boundary adjustment.