Online extra: Q-and-A on sustainable groundwater management


Issue Date: November 13, 2019

Q-and-A on sustainable groundwater management with Taryn Ravazzini, California Department of Water Resources Deputy Director of Statewide Groundwater Management.

Ag Alert: What types of solutions are being built into the plans to bring a basin into sustainability?

Ravazzini: As of this date, DWR has not received any plans for review. What DWR is looking for upon submission of the plan is that a GSA (groundwater sustainability agency) has developed a path toward sustainability. How GSAs achieve that goal will differ from basin to basin. One of the state government's roles is to support these local solutions.  

Ag Alert: Are plans expected to be unique from basin to basin, or what similarities do you expect to see within the plans?

Ravazzini: DWR strives to provide flexibility to each GSA and preserve local control, because there are so many ways that sustainability can be achieved. Each basin is unique and local water managers are using local knowledge to find solutions that work for their basins. What works in one basin might not in a neighboring basin. The state is not prescribing the path to sustainability, just defining the outcome of sustainable groundwater management. That being said, there are regulations describing the required contents of a GSP (groundwater sustainability plan), so we do expect some degree of similarity in terms of the format of these plans.

Ag Alert: What should GSAs know?

Ravazzini: GSAs, as well as groundwater users and other stakeholders, should know that sustainable groundwater management won't be achieved overnight. Initial plans are not expected to be perfect, and implementation won't solve all of the groundwater problems immediately. Achieving sustainability will take dedicated efforts at the local and state levels.

Ag Alert: If DWR finds that plans ultimately will not balance the aquifer, is there a negotiation period that happens?

Ravazzini: Plans designated as inadequate will be referred to the state water board to consider intervention.

Ag Alert: As a result of this process, what is DWR learning about the state's groundwater basins?

Ravazzini: DWR has a long history of supporting groundwater management and advancing the understanding of groundwater resources in the state. We continue to collect, analyze and make available a variety of data sets that will support GSAs as they develop their GSPs. DWR is particularly interested in providing data that, due to economies of scale, are more efficiently collected on a statewide basis. Examples include our statewide datasets on land use and subsidence.

Ag Alert: Do you expect the GSAs will reach the intended goal of achieving sustainability?

Ravazzini: Sustainable water management is key to California's future, and SGMA (the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) is a critical component to achieving that. The state understands the challenges that come with implementation of SGMA, which is why we've provided data, tools, funding and support throughout the process, and plan to continue that support for local success. A business-as-usual approach to groundwater management will result in greater impacts and less reliability of this essential resource.

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