On April 7, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) released recommendations for improving management of California groundwater basins. ACWA’s recommendations come as discussions continue in the regulatory and legislative arenas to identify ways to address potentially unsustainable declines in groundwater levels and degraded groundwater quality in some basins of the state. The drought has brought the problem into even sharper focus.
The recommendations include legislative and administrative changes that strengthen groundwater management and accountability where it is deficient, provide new tools and authorities to accelerate progress by local and regional agencies, and guide enhanced state support where needed. The recommendations call for the following:
- New uniform requirements for groundwater management planning and performance reporting;
- New definition of “sustainable groundwater management” in state law;
- A menu of best management practices for implementing groundwater management plans;
- New tools and authorities for local groundwater management agencies;
- New state administrative measures to ensure local groundwater management accountability;
- A funding approach to support local capacity building and implementation; and
- Comprehensive state action to remove impediments to surface water supply reliability.