ACWA Issues Recommendations for Improving Groundwater Management in California

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ACWA today issued a suite of far-reaching recommendations for improving management of groundwater basins throughout California amid growing concerns about potentially unsustainable declines in groundwater levels and degraded water quality in some basins of the state.
 
The recommendations include legislative and administrative changes that strengthen groundwater management and accountability where it is deficient, provide new tools and authorities to accelerate progress by local and regional agencies, and guide enhanced state support where needed.
 
“Groundwater is a significant water supply source in many parts of California, but there are serious problems with groundwater level declines, local subsidence and degraded water quality in some areas,” ACWA President John Coleman said. “Public water agencies have a strong record of leadership and expertise in managing groundwater basins, but there is a clear need for new tools and authorities and closer collaboration with state agencies to meet the challenge.
 
“These recommendations are groundbreaking for ACWA, but we believe California must take bold steps immediately to solve this problem and develop a comprehensive solution to long-term groundwater sustainability,” Coleman said.
 
ACWA’s recommendations come as discussions continue in the regulatory and legislative arenas to identify ways to better manage California’s groundwater resources. The association has been actively engaged in recent years on groundwater issues, particularly through the development of ACWA’s 2011 Groundwater Framework.
 
David Orth, general manager of Kings River Conservation District and vice chair of the ACWA task force that developed the groundwater recommednations, said the suggested actions reflect the water community’s desire to put workable solutions on the table and be part of a constructive dialog on groundwater.
 
“Most basins in California are being very well managed at the local level. Some, however, are not there yet,” Orth said. “We need to acknowledge there are issues out there, and provide the tools and authorities that can help local and regional entities address the challenge.”
 
The recommendations call for the following:
  • New uniform requirements for groundwater management planning and performance reporting;
  • Adoption of a new definition of “sustainable groundwater management” in state law;
  • A menu of best management practices for implementing groundwater management plans;
  • New tools and authorities for local groundwater management agencies;
  • New state administrative measures to ensure local groundwater management accountability;
  • A funding approach to support local capacity building and implementation;
  • Comprehensive state action to remove impediments to surface water supply reliability.
Click here for the full text of the recommendations.

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