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A Sneak Preview: DWR’s Best Management Practices to Guide the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act from Paper to Reality


Author: Jessica Diaz

Author: Jessica Diaz

Editor: Russell McGlothlin

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is underway. The principle implementation issues to date in most basins have concerned who will govern and how the management lines are drawn, with basin boundary modifications recently released and the deadline for GSA formation fast approaching on June 30, 2017.

But looming larger are questions about how groundwater resources will be managed—especially in overdrafted basins where pumping cutbacks will be necessary. SGMA implementation will soon move to these tough decisions. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a draft framework on best management practices (BMPs), late last month, which offers a sneak preview into how this might unfold. The BMPs do not substitute for DWR’s adopted regulations, which will be the criteria against which groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) will be judged. Rather, the draft framework includes BMPs to guide local managers in crafting GSPs.  Notably, the framework provides guidance concerning groundwater monitoring, modeling and water budgets. It remains to be seen how agencies will bring water budgets into balance while complying with SGMA’s edict that the act does not affect or determine groundwater rights.   These BMPs are a preview to that challenging question.

Note: The comment period on the draft BMPs’ framework will run until Nov. 28. The final BMPs are expected to be released in December 2016.

This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding the DWR’s draft guidance documents and BMPs. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorney listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions.

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