Arlington Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan

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The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

In an effort to ensure the sustainable use of California’s groundwater and a water-secure future for the State, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in 2014. The SGMA went into effect in 2015.

For the first time in California’s history, the SGMA requires groundwater resources to be sustainably managed by local agencies through the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in basins that are deemed high- or medium-priority by the State of California, Department of Water Resources (DWR).

In such basins, GSAs are required to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs). These plans must quantify basin characteristics and supplies and must establish management actions and projects to achieve basin sustainability within 20 years of implementation. The SGMA imposes many new monitoring and reporting requirements, and other procedural and substantive mandates related to groundwater management.

Learn more about the SGMA

Protecting a vital water resource

During a normal year, groundwater provides more than 35 percent of Southern California’s drinking water. The effective use of local groundwater basins is an important component of the region’s water supply plan.

On April 19, 2017, Western’s Board of Directors held a public hearing and voted to become the GSA over the portion of the Arlington Basin that is not adjudicated and has been designated as high-priority by the DWR. Western submitted this request to DWR and on August 18, 2017, and after the required 90-day period, Western was deemed the GSA over this area.

In January 2019, DWR released the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act 2018 Basin Prioritization report. This report outlines the process involved with reassessing the priority of the groundwater basins in California following the 2016 basin boundary modifications. Through this process, the Arlington Basin was designated as very low-priority, and therefore not requiring a GSP. However, Western believes in good basin management and made the decision to continue the process of meeting with stakeholders and creating a plan.

To help with the creation of the Arlington Basin GSP, DWR has awarded Western $130,000 in grant funding from the Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program. Through January 2022, Western staff will work with members of the public and other stakeholders in the area to develop the GSP.

Five steps to sustainable groundwater in the Arlington Basin

The GSP will be developed in five phases through the end of 2021 to meet the required completion deadline of January 31, 2022. The public will have the opportunity to participate in the plan development process, including participation in public GSA meetings and/or stakeholder workshops, and by reviewing and commenting on the final GSP when it is made available.

5 Steps to Developing the Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Key terms

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) — The SGMA is a package of three bills (AB 1739, SB 1168, and SB 1319) that provide local agencies with a framework for managing groundwater basins in a sustainable manner. Recognizing that groundwater is most effectively managed at the local level, SGMA requires local agencies to achieve sustainability within 20 years.

Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) — One or more local agencies may establish a GSA. It is the GSA’s responsibility to develop and implement a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) that considers all beneficial uses and users of groundwater in the basin. Western has been designated as the GSA for the Arlington Basin.

Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) — A management plan developed by a local Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) to provide a framework for sustainable management of the groundwater basin to meet the requirements of the SGMA.

Stakeholder Communication and Engagement Plan (C&E Plan) — Groundwater is best managed at the local level. GSA(s) are required by the SGMA to develop and implement a C&E Plan to ensure the timely, forthright, and consistent communication among all beneficial users of groundwater and stakeholders affected by the GSP.

Stakeholder Workshops — In addition to the project kick-off meeting held in 2019, three public stakeholder workshops are scheduled to give those most affected by the GSP the opportunity to inform the plan development. Get involved.