Department of Water Resources

California has moved one step closer to implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”), California’s landmark groundwater legislation. On Wednesday, May 18, the California Water Commission adopted a set of regulations that will govern the creation of groundwater sustainability plans (“GSPs”) by local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”). The emergency regulations, developed by the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”), take effect in June.

The new regulations will have some real impacts on GSAs and their implementation of SGMA. The most significant requirements include:
Continue Reading New Regulations for California Groundwater Management

Earlier this week, environmental consultant Susanne Heim of Panorama Environmental and Stoel Rives water lawyer Wes Miliband hosted the second part of the California Water Webinar series about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

In this webinar, Susanne and Wes covered implications of the recently adopted emergency regulations to amend groundwater basin boundaries, as well

California’s unique geography and climate have allowed the State to become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. In an average year California’s agricultural industry irrigates 9.6 million acres using roughly 34 million acre-feet of water.

California’s growing demand for water has increased the pressure on California’s agriculture industry to use water more efficiently. To encourage the efficient use of agricultural water, the Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) operates the Agricultural Water Use Efficiency Grants Program (“Grant Program”). The Grant Program is funded with $30 million for agricultural water use efficiency projects.

Grants are available for two types of projects: “Implementation Projects” and “Other Projects.” “Implementation Projects” are projects that create measurable water conservation benefits.  “Other Projects” create potential water conservation benefits, such as research, training, education, and public outreach.
Continue Reading DWR Put’s Money Where Its Mouth Is In Ag Water Efficiency Grant Program

October 11, 2015, marked the deadline by which Governor Brown had to act on legislation submitted to him by the legislature in September. In addition to those bills the Governor signed, we note below legislation that has been identified as two-year legislation. Stoel Rives’ Water Law Team has been monitoring water-related legislation, especially given California’s historic drought. We will continue to monitor bills identified as two-year bills, as well as any bills introduced in the second half of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session. We will provide periodic updates as these bills move through the legislative process. Below is the status and summary of some of the bills Stoel Rives is monitoring.

Supply and Groundwater

AB-307 (Mathis): Graywater: groundwater recharge
STATUS: Currently identified as a two-year bill.
If passed by the legislature and signed into law, AB-307 would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to explicitly permit the usage of residential, commercial and industrial graywater for the recharge of a groundwater basin or aquifer.

AB-453 (Bigelow): Groundwater Management
STATUS: Currently identified as a two-year bill and pending in the Senate.
If passed by the legislature and chaptered, this bill would authorize, until a groundwater sustainability plan is adopted, a local agency to amend an existing groundwater management plan in furtherance of, and consistent with, the groundwater management plan’s objectives.

AB-647 (Eggman): Beneficial use: storing of water underground
STATUS: Currently identified as a two-year bill and pending in the Senate.
If signed into law, this bill would:

  • declare that the storing of water underground constitutes a beneficial use of water if the diverted water is used while it is in underground storage for specified purposes;
  • state the intent of the Legislature that this storage of water underground not injure any legal user of the water involved; and,
  • provide that the period for the reversion of a water right does not include any period when the water is being used in the aquifer or storage area or is being held in storage for later application to beneficial use, as prescribed.

Continue Reading Update on California Water Legislation Regarding Groundwater, Recycled Water and More