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SGMA Happens

The Kern Subbasin GSAs – and there are about 17 of them – have agreed on a common approach to setting minimum thresholds. A lack of coordination between these GSAs in their originally submitted plans was a big reason for their subbasin being deemed “inadequate” by the Department of Water Resources and thereby moving the Kern Subbasin into a relationship with the State Water Resources Control Board. Getting to this agreement amongst themselves was a huge accomplishment. What remains to be seen is if the State Board accepts this common approach as an acceptable path forward. Time will tell, but getting agreement among the Kern GSAs was a very positive step.

The Kaweah Subbasin is working on a common approach to minimum thresholds as well. They seem to be making progress on that front but are struggling with a sharp difference of opinion between the GSAs on the allocations of overdraft that is part of the ramp down of groundwater pumping as the subbasin moves toward sustainability in 2040. The two of the three GSAs in the subbasin have Central Valley Project surface water rights. The third GSA has some land with local Kaweah River water rights but a significant amount of land that is groundwater only dependent. This difference in circumstance leads to differences in perspectives and of course the stakes are high for everyone. Kaweah is a place where neighbor helping neighbor could make a big difference in easing the coming pain that reaching sustainability will cause. Hopefully, the parties will work positively toward that outcome.

Geoff Vanden Heuvel

Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs

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