SGMA Groundwater Management

On September 16, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a three-bill legislative package, composed of AB 1739 (Dickinson), SB 1168 (Pavley), and SB 1319 (Pavley), collectively known as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). For the first time in its history, California has a framework for sustainable, groundwater management - “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”

SGMA requires governments and water agencies of high and medium priority basins to halt overdraft and bring groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge. Under SGMA, these basins should reach sustainability within 20 years of implementing their sustainability plans. For critically over-drafted basins, that will be 2040. For the remaining high and medium priority basins, 2042 is the deadline.

In his signing statement, the governor emphasized that “groundwater management in California is best accomplished locally.” Through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program, DWR provides ongoing support to local agencies through guidance and financial and technical assistance. 

SGMA empowers local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to manage basins sustainably and requires those GSAs to adopt Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) for crucial groundwater basins in California.

San Luis Obispo County Basins

From the County of San Luis Obispo Public Works Department

The “Sustainable Groundwater Management Act” (SGMA) took effect on January 1, 2015. SGMA provides for the preparation and implementation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) for High and Medium priority groundwater basins.

Basins with SGMA efforts mapped in San Luis Obispo County, based on the 2019 Final Basin Prioritization by the State Department of Water Resources (DWR):

    Paso Robles (High Priority)
    Atascadero (Very Low Priority)
    Santa Maria (Very Low Priority)
    Los Osos (Very Low Priority)
    San Luis Obispo (Edna) Valley (High Priority)
    Cuyama Valley (High Priority)

Learn more about SGMA by visiting the State's website:

    DWR Sustainable Groundwater Management
    DWR Groundwater Portal

NOTE: For information on current groundwater studies, please visit the following links:

    Adelaida Area Hydrogeologic Study
    Paso Basin Aerial Groundwater Mapping Study

SLO County Farmers' Perspectives on SGMA

In 2019, San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau partnered with Dr. Meredith Niles and the University of Vermont's Food Systems Program & Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences to research local farmer perspectives on water management and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  Continue reading the article by clicking here.