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Bulletin 118 Final Boundary Modifications Move the Lines—But Do They Bring More Clarity?


Author: Jena Acos


Editor: Bradley Herrema

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently released the modifications to the boundaries of the state’s Bulletin 118.

For some basins, these modifications will greatly assist local agencies in complying with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act’s (SGMA) planning requirements. For others, however, this latest modification update highlights the uncertainty surrounding how to best manage a basin, including the appropriate agency to act as a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) and the necessity to adopt a groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) until the next modification period.

This past spring, local agencies were authorized to submit requests to modify the boundary lines of a groundwater basin or subbasin to either:

  1. better align the boundaries with the basin’s underlying geology, or
  2. re-align the boundaries to more closely follow political (i.e., county) boundaries to promote sustainable groundwater management. (23 CCR 3340-346.6.)

Prior to the March 31, 2016, deadline, the DWR received a total of 54 requests. The DWR approved 39 requests, denied 12 requests, and found that three requests were incomplete and ineligible for processing. The DWR also made a number of administrative changes to the boundaries of basins that were not the subject of a basin boundary modification request.

The Groundwater Basin Boundary Assessment Tool is helpful to determine areas affected by changes as well as the original basin boundaries.

These revised basin boundaries will be included in the DWR’s interim update of Bulletin 118, which is due to be published by Jan. 1, 2017. The DWR also plans to open a second basin boundary modification request period in early 2018. It is important to note, however, that SGMA requires a GSA to be formed by June 30, 2017, almost six months prior to the next basin boundary modification request period. Therefore, local agencies must proceed with forming a GSA based on DWR’s recently finalized list of modifications.

This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding the Bulletin 118 final boundary modifications. 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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