California’s Groundwater Law Empowers Regional Management Groups

In the wake of 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), counties, water management districts, and other water agencies around the state are organizing regional groups to formulate plans by the year 2020 that will guide groundwater management with the goal of achieving sustainable use by the year 2040.

SGMA is the first state law ever to regulate groundwater use in California. SGMA requires that a local Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) be created to manage the 127 high and medium priority groundwater basins identified by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). If a GSA is not formed for a basin of concern by June 30, 2017, DWR will step in and manage the basin.

As GSAs assemble across the state, stakeholders including organic farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to become involved to make sure that their interests are represented in the planning process.

GSAs then have until the year 2020 to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan that specifies how the basin will reach sustainability by the year 2040.

We encourage all producers to connect with their local GSA and attend public meetings to keep informed on this important issue. Producers also may have the opportunity to sit on their local GSA.

To find the GSA that will plan groundwater use for your region, visit this interactive map online and enter your address in the box in the upper left-hand corner. Click on the dot that appears on the map to open a box of information that you can navigate by clicking on the arrows until you arrive at the GSA tab. There you will find GSA contact information and other details.

If you have questions related to GSAs or questions about the interactive map, contact Mark Nordberg at Much more information on SGMA is available online.