Public workshop to discuss sustainable groundwater management in Sierra Valley

The public will have an opportunity to learn about local implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in the Sierra Valley Basin at a workshop Thursday, Oct. 25, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Sierra Christian Church, 81059 Highway 70, in Beckwourth.

SGMA background

On Sept. 16, 2014, Governor Brown signed into law a legislative package comprised of three bills: Assembly Bill 1739, and Senate Bills 1168 and 1319. These laws are collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. SGMA (pronounced sigma) defines sustainable groundwater management as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained without causing undesirable results.”

SGMA requires groundwater basins to be managed under a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and to achieve sustainability in 20 years. The state has prioritized 127 basins that must comply with SGMA, including the Sierra Valley Groundwater Basin, which is one of the basins that must develop a plan by Jan. 31, 2022.

Groundwater sustainability agencies and managing for sustainability

SGMA requires locally controlled Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to develop and implement a GSP to meet the sustainability goal of the basin without causing undesirable results or impacts. SGMA identifies six indicators that impact a basin’s ability to reach sustainability, which are referred to as undesirable results when they do not achieve locally developed sustainability goals.

These undesirable results include: chronic lowering of groundwater levels, significant and unreasonable reduction of groundwater storage, seawater intrusion, degraded water quality, significant land subsidence, and depletions of interconnected surface water that have adverse impacts on groundwater users.

The Sierra Valley Groundwater Management District and Plumas County are the two GSAs in the Sierra Valley Basin and have begun working together to develop a GSP.

Groundwater users in groundwater sustainability planning

Over the next three years, the GSAs will host periodic public workshops to ensure that groundwater users and the general public have an opportunity to be a part of the planning process and to provide both input and comments at key milestones during GSP development. Representatives from the Sierra Valley Basin GSAs and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) will participate in the workshop. SGMA identifies DWR as the regulatory and technical assistance agency.

The main goal of the workshop Oct. 25 is to ensure that groundwater users receive background information about SGMA and have a chance to learn more about current efforts and next steps that the GSAs are taking to implement this law and to manage groundwater in the basin. The workshop will include informative presentations and a forum for discussion with local and state agency representatives about groundwater management in the Sierra Valley Groundwater Basin.

For more information about local groundwater management in Sierra Valley, visit sierravalleygmd.org/sustainable-groundwater-management-act .

To learn more about SGMA visit water.ca.gov/Programs/Groundwater-Management/SGMAGroundwater-Management .

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