The Department of Water Resources has approved groundwater sustainability plans for the Las Posas Valley Basin in Ventura County and the Indian Wells Valley Basin east of the southern Sierra. Yet DWR listed several corrective actions the local agencies must take by 2025, when the plans are due for updates.
The Indian Wells plan has been the most contentious one to date, drawing several lawsuits from water users. Pistachio growers are pushing back on steep fees on each acre-foot of water pumped, while another lawsuit seeks to reconsider all groundwater rights in the basin.
DWR staff found that the plan would not end overdraft entirely within the 20-year horizon for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. “Even with full implementation of the proposed projects and management actions, the Basin would be subject to perpetual overdraft, albeit at a reduced rate,” they write in the assessment.
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Meanwhile, researchers at Fresno State’s California Water Institute have found the magic formula for making an effective groundwater sustainability agency (GSA).
After analyzing the GSAs for the 21 most critically overdrafted subbasins, they boiled down a few key elements for success. Providing leadership training, educating stakeholders on the science, and acknowledging what falls outside of the plans topped the list.